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How Trump impeachment hearings differ from hearings for Nixon, Clinton

HOUSTON – As expected, the first public questioning in the House impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump broke along party lines.

It's a familiar scene to political experts and those who have experienced impeachment hearings firsthand. 

A hyperpartisan environment usually comes with impeachment territory, according to Rice University political science professor Mark Jones.

"Both Democrats and Republicans are trying to use these hearings to make their case to the American people," Jones said.

Still, Jones believes the atmosphere around this impeachment process differs from others. 

READ: Top takeaways from first public testimony in Trump impeachment inquiry

"With Nixon, there was a belief even among Republicans that the president had committed criminal acts and needed to go," Jones said. "In the Clinton era, Clinton had spent much of the early part of his tenure waging war on Congress, including Democrats in Congress, so there wasn't that much love lost between President Clinton and congressional Democrats."

Retired U.S. Rep. Gene Green was in office during the last televised impeachment hearings.

"I think it was pretty partisan in 1998 because Newt Gingrich was speaker of the House and they went after President Clinton, for good reason," Green said. 

Green said that although the circumstances of this impeachment process are different from 1998, he hopes the public is paying close attention. 

"I want people to know that this is not an easy process and it's very serious in our history," Green said. 

The televised hearings continue Friday, with more scheduled for next week.