Senate Watergate hearing room in 1973 (left). House Ways and Means Committee hearing room (right). Photos: AP (left), Reuters.

The public phase of the impeachment inquiry of President Trump begins Wednesday at 10 a.m.

The big picture: The public phase is arguably the most important part of Democrats' efforts so far, as how the public experiences the hearings will determine how impeachment plays out.

Then: Back in 1973, tens of millions of Americans tuned in to what Variety called "the hottest daytime soap opera" — the Senate Watergate hearings that eventually led to President Nixon's resignation, AP's David Crary writes.

  • It was a communal experience, and by some estimates, more than 80% of Americans watched at least part of the telecasts.
  • Why it matters: Seeing the witnesses lay out the case against the president moved public opinion decidedly in favor of impeachment.

Now ... But this time may be different:

  • Many will watch on more than one screen, with real-time reinforcement of their preexisting views — on platforms that didn't exist during Watergate.

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Why it matters: The revelation comes roughly two weeks before Election Day. Ratcliffe said Iran has sent threatening emails to Democratic voters this week in states across the U.S. and spread videos claiming that people can vote more than once.

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Supreme Court blocks Alabama curbside voting measure

Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images

The Supreme Court on Wednesday evening blocked a lower court order that would have allowed voters to cast ballots curbside at Alabama polling places on Election Day.

Whit it matters: With less than two weeks until Election Day, the justices voted 5-3 to reinstate the curbside voting ban and overturn a lower court judge's ruling designed to protect people with disabilities during the coronavirus pandemic.