Daily Video

November 25, 2019

Impeachment hearing wrap-up: Sondland, Hill and Holmes



Directions: Read the summary, watch the video and answer the questions. You can turn on the “CC” (closed-captions) function and read along with the transcript here. For the sake of time, stop the video at 8m:54s.

Impeachment hearing activity: You may want to have your students complete the impeachment hearing activity (PDF here) which can be applied to any lawmaker, Democrat or Republican, and to any witness.


Summary: In the final day of public impeachment hearings on November 21, Dr. Fiona Hill, the former National Security Council senior director for Europe and Russia, and David Holmes, the political affairs counselor at the U.S. embassy in Ukraine, testified in front of a House committee. Gordon Sondland, U.S. ambassador to the European Union, testified to the committee that there was a quid pro quo with Ukraine and that he followed President Donald Trump’s orders to work with Rudy Giuliani. Sondland also implicated Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Vice President Mike Pence in a pressure campaign. Watch a few minutes of Sondland’s testimony here in which he is questioned by committee chair Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., and a few minutes by Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio.

Some background: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., announced an inquiry in September following a whistleblower complaint about a phone call between the White House and Ukraine. The House voted on conducting a formal inquiry on Oct. 28. Specifically, the phone call occurred between Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy and Trump who asked for an investigation into a conspiracy theory related to the 2016 election, and into potential  2020 political opponent former Vice President Joe Biden. The Trump administration is accused of withholding military aid to Ukraine for Trump’s personal political advantage. Trump says he has done nothing wrong.

Discussion questions:

  1. Essential question: What are the strategies of Republican and Democrat Congresspeople during the hearings? Which strategies do you find effective?
    • NEW: After we posted this lesson, we heard from journalist and educator Carole King, who asked two pertinent questions: “If gaslighting achieves goals, regardless of fact-based evidence, what values are taught by teaching “effective” strategies? What is the relation between “effective” and evidence-based critical thinking, including ethical responsibility? (gaslighting definition) Thank you for these questions, Carole. They got us really thinking here at Extra, and we believe such feedback makes our lessons stronger. Please always feel free to share your thoughts @newshourextra or write newshourextra@gmail.com.
  2. Did you find Holmes and Hill’s testimonies compelling? How about Sondland’s? Explain.
  3. What advice would you give to one of the witnesses during the impeachment hearings?
  4. Describe the overall tone in the hearing room.
  5. How has President Trump reacted to the hearings so far?
  6. Media literacy: Check out at least three additional news sites about Sondland, Hill and Holmes’ testimonies from Day 4 and Day 5 of the impeachment hearings. How is the coverage similar and different to the PBS NewsHour’s story?


Extension activity: 

Catch up on current events with NewsHour Extra:

Day 3 of the impeachment hearings: Role of witnesses

Day 2 of the impeachment hearings: Yovanovitch describes weakened State Department, questions ‘smear’ campaign

Day 1 of impeachment hearings: Short activity for your students

For monthly updates containing teacher resources on Election 2020, click here.

Sign up for short education highlights from the PBS NewsHour here.

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