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January 24, 2020

Trump impeachment trial: The first two days

Rep. Sylvia Garcia, D-TX, speaks during a House Judiciary Committee markup of the articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump, on Capitol Hill in Washington December 11, 2019. Jose Luis Magana/Pool via REUTERS



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. STOP the video at 7m:43s for the sake of time. 

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WATCH LIVE:  Trump impeachment trial — January 24

WATCH: 5 video moments to watch from the House managers’ second day of oral arguments

WATCH: Women lawmakers make history at Trump impeachment trial



House impeachment managers wrapped up their second day of prosecuting the case to remove President Donald Trump from office. On Thursday, they laid out why they believe Trump abused his presidential power. In this segment, you’ll also hear about how senators in the chamber appeared to be receiving it and Trump’s responses over Twitter.

[Background: President Donald Trump became the third president in U.S. history to be impeached by the House of Representatives under the Constitution for high crimes and misdemeanors. The vote split along party lines over the charges of abuse of power that involved Trump enlisting a foreign government to investigate a political opponent ahead of the 2020 election. The House also voted to impeach on a charge that the president obstructed Congress in its investigation. Trump maintains he has done nothing wrong and that the Democrats have been looking for an excuse to impeach him since the 2016 election.]

Discussion questions:

  1. Focus question: Do you think Trump’s impeachment trial shows democracy at work?
  2. Who are the House managers? What arguments have they made so far?
  3. What role has technology played in the House managers’ case? (Keep in mind that the Senate will not vote to allow witnesses until next week, but it appears as though Republicans may have enough votes to block witnesses from participating.)
  4. How do you think senators should behave in the chamber? Do you think they should be allowed to use their cellphones? Explain.
  5. If time allows, watch one of the clips from 5 video moments to watch from the House managers’ second day of oral arguments. Which clip was most effective in making the manager’s point? Explain.
  6. Do you think Trump should be responding to the trial over Twitter? In general, do you think Trump tweets too much, not enough or just the right amount? Explain.
  7. Media literacy: Are you or someone you know watching the trial? How many people are tuning in? Why might it be hard to get an accurate number?

Extension activities:

PBS NewsHour’s Jim Lehrer died on Thursday, Jan 23, 2020. Learn more about Lehrer’s life and his impact on journalism here.

Watch PBS’ recap of the Senate investigation into President Richard M. Nixon during Watergate below. Keep in mind that this clip focuses on the Senate committee hearing (Nixon resigned from office and was not impeached and therefore did not have a Senate trial.) only. Take note of the relationship of members of different parties. How is it different than the relationship you see among today’s group of senators?

If short on time, watch this clip of Jim Lehrer discussing the role of the “little guys” in Watergate. What point do you think Lehrer was trying to make? How do Lehrer’s remarks show a more discerning, nuanced approach to journalism?


Visit Share My Lesson for additional lesson plans and resources on impeachment here.


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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