By Jeff Wagner

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – In just a few days, the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump will no longer be a process that solely happens behind closed doors.

The public hearings will be aired live on television with three witnesses scheduled to testify before the House Intelligence Committee this week.

To date, only transcripts have given the American people a glimpse into the testimony from witnesses involved in the impeachment inquiry. That changes drastically Wednesday when the public hearings begin.

“We’re going to actually have a chance to look at somebody,” said David Schultz, Political Science Professor at Hamline University. “To eyeball them, maybe to look in their souls through television and get a sense of, ‘Do we believe them or not?’ It’s about assessing credibility.”

Some scheduled to testify publicly have already done so privately, including Bill Taylor, the U.S. Special Envoy to Ukraine. Republicans are demanding specific witnesses come forward including the whistleblower, whose claims imply President Trump leveraged a quid pro quo with Ukraine, only offering military aid if they in turn investigated his political rivals.

House Intelligence Committee chairman Adam Schiff said that won’t happen out of safety for the whistleblower.

“In many ways the whistleblower’s testimony is largely irrelevant now. It’s been corroborated in several ways,” said Schultz, referring to the other witnesses’ testimony. He also feels exposing a potential cover up after the President’s phone call with Ukraine will resonate more with the public.

Senator Amy Klobuchar talked with WCCO’s Esme Muprhy Sunday morning and said the proceedings are a matter of national security.

“It was James Madison who in the constitutional convention said that we need those provisions in the constitution, because he was afraid that a president would betray the trust of the American people to a foreign power. And that’s really what this is about,” the presidential candidate said.

Meanwhile, President Trump stands defiant.

“There’s never been a president who’s been so transparent. This is a witch-hunt at the highest level and it’s so bad for our country,” he told reporters Saturday.

Schultz anticipates the public hearings will take several weeks to complete, with a possible vote not likely until early next year.

CBS will air the hearings live on Wednesday starting just before 9:00 a.m. CBS will do so again Friday at 10 a.m.

Jeff Wagner