Republicans are using massive signs to defend Trump so the cameras can catch them in the televised impeachment hearings

Rep. Devin Nunes, the ranking member on the House Intelligence Committee. Loren Elliot/Reuters

Over the past two weeks of hearings in the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump, several current and former Trump administration officials have testified before the House Intelligence Committee.

The impeachment inquiry all started with an anonymous whistleblower complaint lodged by a member of the intelligence community.

The whistleblower detailed a series of events, including an infamous July 25 call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, that resulted in the Trump administration withholding a nearly $US400 million military-aid package and pressuring the Ukrainian government to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter, who served on the board of Burisma Holdings, a Ukrainian oil-and-gas company.

The whistleblower’s complaint has been corroborated by the White House’s summary notes of the July 25 call, White House officials themselves, and the sworn testimony of several career diplomatic and national-security officials.

Multiple diplomats have testified under oath that the Trump administration explicitly conditioned lifting the military-aid hold on Zelensky publicly announcing investigations into Burisma and a discredited conspiracy theory that Ukraine meddled in the 2016 US election to benefit Hillary Clinton.

But as millions of Americans are tuning in to hear one witness after another testify against Trump, Republicans are trying to take back control of the narrative with huge posters behind their seats.

Impeachment signs

As part of their defence, Republicans have hammered on the identity of the whistleblower and claimed that the whistleblower is biased against Trump and even working in coordination with the Democrats.

The whistleblower’s identity is still unknown, but they have been identified in reports as a CIA officer previously detailed to the White House.

The sign above on the right refers to a New York Times report in October that said that before filing the complaint with the intelligence community’s inspector general, the whistleblower sought guidance from an Intelligence Committee aide about how to lawfully proceed with it.

While the committee’s chairman, Rep. Adam Schiff, did not communicate with the whistleblower and there is no evidence he knows their identity, House Republicans have seized on the report in an attempt to discredit them.

Impeachment signs 2

The sign on the left above is a quote from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that Republicans say proves that Democrats are engaged in a coup, trying to override the will of the people and unjustly remove Trump from office.

Republicans have argued that the impeachment inquiry is illegitimate because Democrats have been looking for any reason to target Trump and impeach him since he arrived in office. They also say that impeachment is unnecessary so close to a presidential election.

But Democrats contend that the inquiry is necessary because Trump is specifically accused of interfering in the 2020 election.

Impeachment signs 3
An aide places signs behind Republicans’ seats during the House Intelligence Committee’s hearing on Friday featuring Marie Yovanovitch, the former ambassador to Ukraine. Joshua Roberts/Reuters

The sign on the left above is a quote from Vadym Prystaiko, Ukraine’s foreign minister, that Republicans say counteracts the slew of career diplomats and national-security officials who have testified under oath that the security assistance was made conditional on Ukraine opening the investigations.

With the sign on the right, Republicans are hoping to emphasise the extent to which the Trump administration has supported Ukraine and highlight that the US has given more military aid to Ukraine under Trump than under President Barack Obama.

In Thursday’s hearings with Fiona Hill and David Holmes, Republicans unveiled a new sign accusing Schiff of violating House rules.