WASHINGTON: Three constitutional scholars on Wednesday bolstered Democrats’ case for impeaching Donald Trump by saying the president’s actions seeking foreign interference in US elections were clear grounds for removal, as the inquiry kicked into high gear in Congress, reports AFP.
But reflecting the Washington political divide, a fourth expert strongly dissented, saying there was “woefully inadequate” evidence that Trump committed high crimes and misdemeanors necessary for removal.Democrats have made a forceful case that Trump should be impeached for trying to leverage a White House meeting and military aid to pressure Ukraine for dirt on an election rival.
In a sometime theatrical hearing of the House Judiciary Committee—now tasked with weighing impeachment charges against the president—lawmakers listened to damning testimony from constitutional law professors.
“On the basis of the testimony and evidence before the House, President Trump has committed impeachable high crimes and misdemeanors by corruptly abusing the office of the presidency,” Harvard Law School professor Noah Feldman told the hearing.
“We three are unanimous” in that view, jurisprudence professor Michael Gerhardt of the University of North Carolina stated, referring to himself and fellow witnesses Feldman and Stanford Law School professor Pamela Karlan.
The trio was invited by Democrats to testify.
Americans tuning in to the eight-hour live broadcast witnessed clashes between Democrats and Republican Trump loyalists on the panel, who repeatedly forced procedural votes to stall the process.The new phase of impeachment began a day after a congressional report on the high-stakes inquiry detailed “overwhelming” evidence of abuse of power and obstruction by the president.
The report mapped out a months-long scheme by Trump, his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, senior diplomats and White House staffers to pressure Ukraine’s president into investigating Joe Biden, the current favorite to win the Democratic nomination for the 2020 election.
Trump “was willing to compromise our security and his office for personal, political gain,” said Judiciary Committee chairman Jerry Nadler.
Trump’s alleged political crimes, including bribery and obstruction of justice and Congress, “are worse than the misconduct of any prior president,” Gerhardt said.
“If what we’re talking about is not impeachable, then nothing is impeachable.”
Feldman added that if Trump is not held to account for his offenses “we live under a dictatorship.”
White House spokeswoman Stephanie Grisham hit back in a statement, saying that “the only thing the three liberal professors established at chairman Nadler’s hearing was their political bias against the president.”
“It did nothing to change the fact that, despite weeks of hearings in this sham process, the president did nothing wrong,” Grisham said.
The fourth academic who testified, George Washington University Law School professor Jonathan Turley—the only expert invited by Republicans—argued there was “no evidence” that Trump acted with corrupt intent.
He warned that partisan “rage” was compromising the inquiry.