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December 10, 2019

Civic engagement? Students reflect on combative impeachment hearing

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., and ranking member Doug Collins, R-Ga., debate the rules during an impeachment hearing on Capitol Hill on December 9, 2019. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst/Pool

 

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Updated!: Read the full articles of impeachment against Trump. Watch the video here.

 

Directions: Read the summary, watch the videos 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 video at 5m:35s.

 

Summary: House Democrats summed up their case for impeachment of President Trump in a hearing Monday, saying his handling of Ukraine policy represented a “clear and present danger” to American elections. Republicans pushed back on the integrity of the investigation, calling it a rush to judgment.

[Background: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., announced an inquiry in September following a whistleblower complaint about a phone call between Trump and the new president of Ukraine. The House voted on conducting a formal inquiry on Oct. 28. Specifically, Trump asked for an investigation into the 2016 election, and into the son of 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 your expectations for how elected officials should behave?
  2. What does civic engagement mean to you?
  3. What are some strategies to express your opinion around others who disagree?
  4. What does a positive, respectful discussion look and sound like? If the discussion gets heated, what are some tips to keep it on the right track?
  5. How many times in history have articles of impeachment been passed?
  6. What was the tone in the room? Why did lawmakers interrupt each other and speak over witnesses? Do you agree with this tactic? Explain.
  7. Take a quick look at NewsHour’sIn public hearing, Judiciary committee lays out its case against President Trump.” (Note: You may want to assign different groups to each of the bold sections). Ask them to summarize what they read. What did they agree with? What did they disagree with? What did they have questions about?
  8. Media literacy: Why do news outlets air the entire proceedings? How does this differ from giving a news summary later that day?

 

Extension activities:

  1. Impeachment hearing activity: As your students watch the hearings, you may want to have them complete this impeachment hearing activity (PDF here) which can be applied to any lawmaker, Democrat or Republican, and to any witness.

2. Want to really wow your students? Watch this PBS recap of the Watergate hearings from 40 years ago. Ask your students if they see any familiar themes. What appears different about today’s impeachment hearings and the Watergate hearings? What is the tone of the Republican and Democrat lawmakers on the committee back then? What about now? Are there lessons from the Watergate hearings that could be applied today?

Source: WETA via American Archive of Broadcasting


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