Three constitutional law experts called by Democrats testified Trump's actions concerning Ukraine represented impeachable offenses as the House Judiciary Committee began proceedings expected to end in charges against the president.
The House Judiciary Committee took over the reins of the impeachment inquiry Wednesday with a hearing on the historical and legal precedent for impeaching a president.
The Constitutional law experts called by the democrats all agreed that Trump’s actions are impeachable, and alluded to the mindset of framers of the Constitution as to why.
SOUNDBITE (ENGLISH) HARVARD UNIVERSITY LAW PROFESSOR NOAH FELDMAN, SAYING: “On the basis on testimony and evidence before the House, President Trump has committed impeachable high crimes and misdemeanors by corruptly abusing the office of the presidency.” SOUNDBITE (ENGLISH) STANFORD UNIVERSITY LAW SCHOOL PROFESSOR PAMELA KARLAN, SAYING: “President Washington warned that history and experience prove that foreign influence is one of the most baneful foes of Republican government.
And he explained that this was in part because foreign governments would try and foment disagreement among the American people and influence what we thought.
The very idea that a president might seek the aid of a foreign government in his reelection campaign would have horrified them.
But based on the evidentiary record, that is what President Trump has done.” The professors also argued that Trump’s stonewalling of Congress undermined the Constitution.
SOUNDBITE (ENGLISH) UNIVERSITY OF NORTH CAROLINA PROFESSOR MICHAEL GERHARDT, SAYING: “If a president can block an investigation, undermine it, stop it, then impeachment power itself as a check against misconduct is undermined completely.” Counsel for the Democrats tried to establish that the fact that Trump wasn’t successful in his efforts did not exonerate him.
SOUNDBITE (ENGLISH) NORM EISEN, SAYING: “Does that matter to the question of impeachment?” SOUNDBITE (ENGLISH) HARVARD UNIVERSITY LAW PROFESSOR NOAH FELDMAN, SAYING: “No….President Nixon was subject to articles of impeachment preferred by this committee for attempting to cover up the Watergate break-in.
The fact that President Nixon was not ultimately successful in covering up the break-in was not grounds for not impeaching him.
The attempt itself is the impeachable act.
SOUNDBITE (ENGLISH) GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY LAW SCHOOL PROFESSOR JONATHAN TURLEY, SAYING: “This is not how you impeach an American president.” But the witness called by the Republicans, professor Jonathan Turley, while not defending the president’s conduct, said the legal case against Trump had not yet been made.
SOUNDBITE (ENGLISH) GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY LAW SCHOOL PROFESSOR JONATHAN TURLEY, SAYING: “This would be the first impeachment in history where there would be considerable debate and, in my view, not compelling evidence of the commission of a crime…I believe this impeachment not only fails to satisfy the standard of past impeachments, but would create a dangerous precedent for future impeachments…you’re saying, ‘Article 1 gives us complete authority that when we demand information from another branch, it must be turned over and we’ll impeach you in record time'…On obstruction, I would encourage you to think about this: in Nixon, it did go to the courts.
And Nixon lost.
And that was the reason Nixon resigned.” The impeachment inquiry focuses on the Republican president’s request for Ukraine to conduct investigations that could harm Democratic political rival Joe Biden.Republicans maintain the president did nothing wrong, And as with previous hearings, expressed their broader frustration at the inquiry.
SOUNDBITE (ENGLISH) REP.
DOUG COLLINS, SAYING: “Put witnesses in here that can be fact witnesses who can be cross-examined.
And every attorney on this panel knows that.
This is a sham.” Professor Feldman warned that failing to impeach Trump would set a dangerous precedent.
SOUNDBITE (ENGLISH) HARVARD UNIVERSITY LAW PROFESSOR NOAH FELDMAN, SAYING: “If we cannot impeach a president who uses his power for personal advantage, we no longer live in a democracy, we live in a monarchy or we live under a dictatorship.
That’s why the framers created the possibility of impeachment." If the House approves articles of impeachment - then the Senate then would hold a trial on whether to remove Trump from office.