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Constitutional law experts called by Democrats testified Wednesday that President Donald Trumps actions concerning Ukraine represented impeachable offenses as the House of Representatives Judiciary Committee began proceedings expected to end in charges against Trump.
The Judiciary Committee heard from the professors on what constitutes an impeachable offense and how Trumps actions compare with those of two former presidents – Republican Richard Nixon, who resigned after the House launched the impeachment process, and Democrat Bill Clinton, who was impeached by the House but not removed by the Senate.
The hearing featured political theatrics. From the outset, Republicans repeatedly tried to interrupt the proceedings by raising objections and points of order. One of the three professors called by the Democrats told the committees top Republican, Doug Collins, she felt insulted by his remarks.
A law professor selected by Trumps fellow Republicans said that the impeachment inquiry lacked testimony from people with direct knowledge of the events and that current evidence did not show that Trump had committed “a clear criminal act”.
The focus of the current inquiry is a July 25 telephone call in which Trump asked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to open an investigation into former US vice-president Joe Biden, Trumps potential rival in the 2020 presidential election, his son Hunter Biden and into a discredited theory that Ukraine, not Russia, meddled in the 2016 election.
Democrats have accused Trump of abusing his power by withholding $391 million in security aid to Ukraine – a vulnerable US ally facing Russian aggression – as leverage to pressure Kiev into conducting the investigations politically beneficial to Trump and for granting Zelenskiy a coveted White House visit.
'Not even president beyond reach of Constitution'
The three professors chosen by the Democrats made clear they believed Trumps actions constituted impeachable offenses.
“The presidents conduct described by the testimony embodies the (US Constitutions) framers concern that a sitting president would corruptly abuse the powers of office to distort the outcome of a presidential election in his favor,” Harvard University law professor Noah Feldman told the panel.
University of North Carolina Professor Michael Gerhardt appeared to admonish Trumps Republican allies for “leaving unchecked a presidents assaults on our Constitution”.
“If Congress fails to impeach here, then the impeachment process has lost all meaning, and, along with that, our Constitutions carefully crafted safeguards against the establishment of a king on American soil. No one, not even the president, is beyond the reach of our Constitution and our laws,” Gerhardt said.
Stanford University law school professor PamelRead More – Source