As US President Donald Trump continues to attack the impeachment inquiry, Democratic politicians have changed tack in going after the president.
Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic Speaker of the House of Representatives and one of Trump’s fiercest critics, has taken to the airwaves to accuse the US president of “bribery” - shifting from the previous "quid pro quid" rhetoric.
“The bribe is to grant or withhold military assistance in return for a public statement of a fake investigation into the elections. That’s bribery,” said Pelosi in a news conference the day after the first public hearing in the impeachment inquiry.
While Trump has said that the call was “perfect”. Pelosi said, “It’s perfectly wrong. It’s bribery.”
In sharpening their language by using “bribery”, Democrats are upping the ante, and it seems deliberately using a more aggressive style as a means of getting through to the public and avoiding the Latin "quid pro quo."
For many Americans, the term “bribery” will resonate while also grounding Democratic rhetoric against Trump in legally impeachable terms.
The US impeachment process in the US is about public perceptions, politicians must convince people that a crime, as defined in the US constitution, was committed. Republicans and Democrats must also vote for impeachment in both houses.
Democratic Representative Ro Khanna who is a House Oversight Committee Member says “the importance of public hearings is to make the case to the American people” underlining the important role the hearings will play in galvanising the public.
Holding the hearings in public are one aspect in attempting to make the American people aware of what Trump is alleged to have done.
How is Trump fighting the impeachment inquiry?
Trump has condemned the proceedings by calling them a “sham” and a “hoax”.
The impeachment inquiry concerns Trump’s July phone call with Zelensky, which first came to attention when an anonymous government whistleblower filed a complaint. During his phone conversation, Trump asked for a “favour” according to an account provided by the White House.
He wanted an investigation of Democrats and his 2020 rival Joe Biden. Later it was revealed that at the time, the administration was withholding military aid from Ukraine.
Democrats are looking into whether the Republican president abused his power by withholding $391 million in US security aid to Ukraine as leverage to pressure Kiev to conduct two investigations that would benefit him politically.
The money, approved by Congress to help a US ally combat Russia-backed separatists in the eastern part of the country, was later provided to Ukraine.
Trump has denied any wrongdoing and also he vehemently rejected the latest revelations.
As Trump seeks re-election in November 2020, the inquiry threatens his future and maybe even his freedom. If the House approves the articles of impeachment against Trump, the Senate would then hold a trial on whether to convict him and remove him from office. The Senate is currently under the control of Republicans and has shown little support for the president’s removal.
For now, it seems Democrats have yet to decide whether or not articles of impeachment against the president should be brought up. If so, hearings are filmed and the American people must be able to see what investigators have already learned behind the scenes.
The open hearings would act as part of the ongoing examination before any steps are taken to impeach the president or not. It seems the future of American politics is likely to be particularly raucous across the country.