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November 1, 2019

How to teach the latest update on impeachment inquiry



Directions: Read the summary, watch the video above and answer the discussion questions. You can turn on the “CC” (closed-captions) function and read along with the transcript here.  For time’s sake, you may want to stop the video at 3m:05s. You may want to also read this short article with your students: 5 questions about the Trump impeachment inquiry.


Summary: The House of Representatives voted Thursday to approve rules governing the impeachment process. Every House Republican opposed the resolution, and all but two Democrats supported it. The move marks the start of a new phase in impeachment,  putting lawmakers on the record for the first time since concerns rose about President Donald Trump’s requests to Ukraine’s president regarding military arms and information on political opponent former Vice President Joe Biden.

The resolution sets up a two-part process, first with public hearings by the Intelligence Committee, led by Rep. Adam Schiff, to gather facts. If impeachment is recommended, the House Judiciary Committee, led by Rep. Jerry Nadler, would take it up, and at that point allow for the president and his lawyers to be involved. Democrats are leading the committees because they won back a majority in the House of Representatives in the 2018 midterm elections.

Following the vote, Trump tweeted that the impeachment inquiry is a “witch-hunt” while White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham accused Democrats of having “an unhinged obsession with this illegitimate impeachment proceeding.”

Democratic Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Mass. said, “I truly believe that, 100 years from now, historians will look back at this moment and judge us by the decisions we make here today. This moment calls for more than politics.

In U.S. history, the House of Representatives has only pursued impeachment of the president three times: Andrew Johnson in 1868, Richard Nixon in 1974, and Bill Clinton in 1998.


Discussion questions:

1) Essential question: What is the significance of the House vote to approve impeachment procedures?

2) Why is the issue of impeachment split along party lines? (Optional: Did a similar situation exist for the previous impeachment inquiries in U.S. history? Conduct some research to find out.)

3) What do you think Rep. Jim McGovern meant when he said, “This moment calls for more than politics”?

4) Why does President Trump continue to refer to the impeachment inquiry as a “witch hunt”?

5) Do you agree with the House’s decision to approve an impeachment inquiry? Why or why not?

6) Media literacy:

  • Look at the top impeachment headlines for at least three different news sources (suggested: Fox News, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal). What words do the headline-writers use? How do those words change the story?
  • The NewsHour reached out to more than 50 Republican members of the House of Representatives to come on the program after the House vote. None of them accepted the invitation. However, longtime GOP strategist and former press secretary for Speaker John Boehner Michael Steel, shared his view about the impeachment inquiry. Ask students: Why do you think so many Republican lawmakers declined to talk about the issue?


Extension activity:

Pick a story from the NewsHour’s impeachment coverage and summarize. What questions does the story address? What questions do you have after watching or reading the story? How can you find answers to those questions?

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