Should Trump be impeached? Voters are as split as politicians

21 November 2019, 22:10 | Updated: 22 November 2019, 01:28

It was a fascinating end to a week of intense testimony.

Fiona Hill, the daughter of a British coal miner, started with a stark warning to those claiming that it was Ukraine and not Russia who meddled in the 2016 US election.

The former aide to then national security adviser John Bolton delivered a stern rebuke of lawmakers, and implicitly Donald Trump, for pushing a "fictional narrative".

They were, she said, perpetuating a Putin lie and undermining public faith in American democracy.

Some Republicans on the intelligence committee, including ranking member Devin Nunes, continue to advance the idea that Russian interference was a "hoax".

In Moscow, Vladimir Putin sounded almost gleeful with the fact that theory was getting such a public and official airing.

"Thank God," he declared. "No one is accusing us of interfering in the US elections anymore. Now they're accusing Ukraine."

But Ms Hill - composed, robust and clearly concerned - told the hearing that Russia was busy gearing up to meddle in 2020 too.

She also provided a withering assessment of Gordon Sondland, the EU ambassador who, in a stunning U-turn on Wednesday, stated that there was definitely a quid pro quo and that "everyone was in the loop".

Ms Hill said Mr Sondland had carried out a "domestic political errand" for Mr Trump while she and her colleagues were involved in "national security policy".

She told House investigators that she came to realise he wasn't simply operating outside official diplomatic channels, as some assumed, but was in fact carrying out instructions from Mr Trump.

Mr Sondland had admitted exactly that the day before.

Ms Hill and David Holmes, a state department adviser in Kiev, claimed it was abundantly clear that Mr Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani was pursing political investigations of Democrats and Joe Biden in Ukraine.

She said she knew then it would "come back to haunt us". She added that her former boss, Mr Bolton, had also expressed concern that a "drug deal" was being cooked up.

But he, like so many in the White House, has not testified.

You only have to step outside for a few minutes to see how differently the public viewed their pair.

One man declared her "elitist and "irrelevant". Another woman called her "the very best of America". It all comes down to who you believe.

As a long day drew to a close, Mr Nunes told the room that this was simply a "show trial", driven by Democrats who had reached their verdict before they had even begun.

Today and throughout this impeachment process, Republicans have characterised the evidence as third-hand and third-rate.

Ms Hill was not on the July call that sparked this inquiry and she like so many others, they argue, should be discounted.

I would say up to half of those I have met in the long queues outside the hearing think the Republicans have a point.

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Voters are just as split as those who are representing them.

So what next? Well, Democrats could file articles of impeachment before Christmas and hold a vote.

Given they have the majority, it is certainly looking like they would vote to impeach President Trump.

But it is also likely that the Republican-controlled Senate won't vote to convict him.

It's also absolutely plausible that he wins a second term.

The president's supporters seemed almost resigned to the idea that he'll be impeached, but also determined to keep him in office.