Wednesday’s session, overseen by the House Intelligence Committee, will offer the public for the first time a window into what Democrats say is a campaign by Trump and his associates to have Ukraine deliver dirt on Democratic rival Joe Biden in exchange for US military aid.
Previous impeachment-inquiry hearings had taken place in a Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility (SCIF), a highly secure room in the Capitol’s basement where sensitive information can be viewed and openly discussed.
Reports on the ongoing impeachment probe had come from transcripts released by House Democrats or leaks from people with knowledge of the closed-door meetings.
Then-candidate Trump in August 2015.
Here’s a list of GOP senators who say they aren’t watching Wednesday’s hearing:
Mitt Romney, who previously said he was keeping an “open mind” toward impeaching Trump. He said he won’t watch the House impeachment hearings, but focus on them if they go to the Senate.
Mitch McConnell, the Senate Majority Leader. He didn’t explicitly say whether he would watch the hearings, but told the AP: “I’m going to be paying attention to what we’re doing in the Senate.”
John Cornyn, who is an adviser to McConnell. “I’ve got other things to do,” he said, according to The Hill. “I think it’s a political sideshow, and I’ve got more important things to do.” Cornyn added that he didn’t need to “waste time going through all the drama over there” in the House, but would pay attention when the matter comes to the Senate, the AP reported.
John Barrasso, who said he would be chairing a session on nuclear power for the Environment and Public Works Committee, CNN reported.
Roy Blunt, who said he didn’t have time to watch it, the AP reported.
Ted Cruz, who said he doubted he would watch the “partisan circus.”
Joni Ernst, who cited a busy schedule, said she would be “catching up on it” on Wednesday night, according to CNN.
An aide to Sen. Susan Collins, a Democrat, also told CNN the senator would watch clips of the hearing later in the day because she is attending a committee hearing on the vaping crisis. Sen. Chuck Grassley, a Republican, said he doesn’t know if he will watch it.
It’s not clear these senators will watch the subsequent sessions this week.
A photographer sets a white balance in the hearing room where the House will begin public impeachment inquiry hearings on Wednesday.
Despite their schedules, some senators on both sides of the aisle still said they would try to watch it.
Sen. Rob Portman, a Republican, told CNN he has a 13-hour-long work day on Wednesday, but would still try to catch snippets of the testimonies on TV.
“My counsel is going to watch all of it but I’ll watch as much as I can,” he said, according to the network. “I think we should listen, and I’m a juror, so we should listen to all the information.”
Sen. Shelly Moore Capito, also a Republican, said she would try to watch some of it to “see what America’s going to see,” CNN reported.
Sen. John Kennedy also told CNN he would try to watch the hearings “if I have time in between committees and votes and those sorts of things.”
There are 53 Republicans in the Senate. It’s not yet clear whether the others will watch the hearings.
Referring to the hearings, Democratic Sen. Mazie Hirono told CNN said it was important to “see the truth.”
In response to some Republicans not watching the hearing, she said: “Truth hurts, you know.”
House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff.
Trump’s allies in the Republican Party have continuously attempted to defend him in the impeachment probe, citing defenses from invalidating the whistleblower complaint because it was hearsay, to the argument that there was no quid pro quo between Trump and Ukraine, and that the entire inquiry is a Democratic hoax.
Trump himself has attempted to smear the whistleblower who raised the alarm on his call with the Ukrainian president, as well as a top National Security Council official who testified that the White House left out key parts of its memo on the call. He has also personally called the impeachment inquiry a “hoax” and a “witch hunt.”