Dems release depositions ahead of public impeachment hearings

ABC News’ Dan Abrams and Kate Shaw analyze what to watch as President Trump becomes the fourth president in American history to face impeachment.
5:28 | 11/12/19

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Transcript for Dems release depositions ahead of public impeachment hearings
Thanks very much. Washington now where the first public impeachment hearings begin tomorrow and president trump the fourth president to face the process that could remove him from office. Our senior national correspondent Terry Moran is tracking the latest from capitol hill. Terry, ahead of tomorrow's hearing the Democrats released more depositions about the military aid trump was withholding from Ukraine and what the Ukrainians knew about it. Reporter: These are secondary witnesses but they confirm an important part of the story and answer one of the president's main line of defense, his allies including his son don junior on "The view" claimed the Ukrainians never even knew that military aid was withheld by the United States, so how could there be a quid pro quo? How could there be pressure or muscle? These witnesses among other things said they got frantic phone calls and meetings with their Ukrainian counterparts wondering where that aid was. This is at the same time that other members of the administration were demanding investigations of the Bidens and of the 2016 election so the conclusion is the Ukrainians could add two plus two and got the pressure. Terry, meantime, there is jockeying inside the white house among potential witnesses about whether top officials like Mick Mulvaney and John Bolton, the former national security adviser, will actually testify in these hearings. Reporter: Yeah, Mick Mulvaney, the acting chief of staff is acting a little oddly here. The president has ordered him and other top aides thought to testify in these impeachment inquiry hearings, but Mulvaney has now decided he wants a court to tell him whether he should obey the house subpoena or obey the guy he works for, the president of the United States and he even tried to join the effort by John Bolton and Bolton's former deputy to get a court to tell them what they should do. Whether he should obey the subpoena or obey the president. This is odd because Mulvaney and Bolton were at each other's throats when they were both in the white house. They rejected the efforts so Mulvaney says he'll fine his own lawsuit to get the answer whether or not he should testify. Meantime, the president continues to say he didn't do anything wrong and promising to release more information now by the end of the week. Reporter: That's right. There were two phone calls between president trump and this new president of the Ukraine, the first one right after that president zelensky was elected in April, was apparently not very substantive. It was a congratulatory phone the other one in July, that's the one the house is focusing on but the president is going to release that first one to say all was normal. Terry Moran, thanks very much. Let's bring in Dan Abrams and Kate Shaw at Cardoza law school. Welcome to you both. These hearings, three big question, one, did the president actually ask Ukraine to do these investigations to further his political interest, number two, did that consty statute an abuse of power and, number three, did the white house conceal these actions and the fact they're withholding witnesses from cooperating constitute obstruction of justice. Those are both fact and legal questions together. The first fact question about what exactly happened, what was the goal, can they demonstrate it, et cetera. That's a separate question from, does this become abuse of power? Again, abuse of power isn't in the criminal code. 23 it becomes one of these things that congress is going to have to interpret and that's why the sort of public nature of these becomes so important. When you think of this as a public proceeding and the jury in the end is going to be the senate, that means what the public thinks is critical and so that's why these public hearings become so important to see whether it's going to shift opinion one way or the other. And, Kate, one of the things to think about when the founders first thought about impeachment, high crimes and misdemeanors, is this the abuse they were If you think of it involving an abuse of the power of the presidency a leveraging of governmental resources for personal political gain, corruption of an abuse of sort of the oath of office of president, it does feel like a fairly textbook example of the kind of conduct that the framers contemplated when they wrote impeachment into the constitution. And how about the fact that the president is telling his top aides not to cooperate? Yeah, I mean I do think you have a possible separate sort of -- the abuse of power charge and separate obstruction of the investigation charge. You know, I do think as Terry said it's quite interesting, you have both former an current white house officials suggesting they're having some doubts about their obligations here. I think a loyal soldier would say, I don't have any obligation to testify, the president has directed me not to. Congress, sue me if you disagree but they're inviting the courts in to the dispute. The president is saying everything he did was perfect but more Republicans are moving to this idea including Nikki Haley that what the president did was wrong but not impeachable. We've seen witnesses and looked at their transcripts already. We haven't seen them publicly but know what they'll say. So the question really becomes, how will the Republicans go after them? I think you'll see a mix. I think you'll see many so of them saying, okay, maybe it was wrong but it's not that bad but some of them attacking the credibility of these witnesses, as well. We will be watching and I know you will join us for our live coverage tomorrow at 10:00 eastern, ABC news and ABC news live. Robin. All right, George. Also this morning another democratic contender may be joining the race for 2020. Sources say former Massachusetts governor Patrick is single -- signaling he may run and most likely announce Thursday, the day before the filing deadline in the first primary state of New Hampshire.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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