Trump in hot seat as public impeachment hearings begin

Members of the House must decide if it’s an abuse of power for the president to ask a foreign leader to investigate an American citizen and political rival.
3:07 | 11/13/19

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Transcript for Trump in hot seat as public impeachment hearings begin
As the nation prepares for these hearings, our senior national correspondent Terry Moran has more on how we got to this extraordinary moment. Good morning, Terry. Reporter: Good morning, Michael. That's right. We talked about historic moment and it is, the fate of a president, the judgment of history on the line. But for a lot of American, they've heard about president trump and Ukraine. This is a process, how did we get here is the question, you're absolutely right, and today for the first time after hearing about all this, Americans become a nation of jurors and they'll get a chance to hear witnesses and judge them for themselves. This morning, a watershed moment as the American public will watch members of congress fire questions at two senior U.S. Diplomats, key witnesses in the impeachment probe. But it's really president trump who is in the hot seat. Once the American people hear from these witnesses in the same way that I have and other members have they are going to be very concerned and they are going to want this president to be held to account. Reporter: It all started back on September 9th. Congress receives an anonymous whistle-blower complaint which reveals how president trump asked Ukraine's new president, volodymyr zelensky to investigate one of the president's main domestic political rivals while withholding nearly $400 million in military aid. Democrats call that an abuse of power, but trump has denied the charges from the beginning. I put no pressure on them whatsoever. I could have. I think it would probably, possibly have been okay if I did. But I didn't. I didn't put any pressure on them whatsoever. Reporter: The complaint amounted to enough evidence of wrongdoing for speaker of the house Nancy Pelosi to formally launch the impeachment inquiry. The actions taken to date by the president have seriously violated the constitution. Reporter: And it was the very next day that the white house handed them a crucial piece of evidence, the rough transcript of a July call between trump and zelensky. In it trump tells the Ukrainian leader to do us a favor, asking him to investigate Joe Biden, trump's leading rival as well as a debunked conspiracy theory about Ukraine meddling in a 2016 election. The president adamant he did nothing to pressure Ukraine to comply. There was no quid pro quo. No quid pro quo. There's no quid pro quo. Reporter: Democrats believe the evidence shows otherwise after they interviewed 16 witnesses behind closed doors including lieutenant colonel Alexander vindman and national security official who was listening in on that July call. He told congress there was no doubt trump was seeking a quid pro quo with Ukraine. Another witness, Gordon sondland, a trump megadonor and ambassador to the European union, he revised his original testimony and admitted he told the Ukrainian official they would likely not receive the military aid until the country announced it would carry out the investigations trump was demanding. So impeachment is a hybrid process. It is a search for evidence but it's also a political process. While members of the house and ultimately senators will be judging here they'll be looking to the American people to see what they decide. Robin. All right. Terry, thank you so much.

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

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