Three legal scholars, brought before the House Judiciary Committee by the Democratic majority Thursday, concluded president Donald Trump clearly committed bribery and other impeachable crimes with his blatant attempted bribery of Ukraine’s Volodymyr Zelensky to obtain a public claim that the country would investigate presidential challenger Joe Biden in exchange for $400 million in needed military aid.
“Ultimately, the reason the Constitution provided for impeachment was to anticipate a situation like the one that is before you today,” Harvard Law School professor Noah Feldman told the committee. “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 a dictatorship.”
“Because this is an abuse that cuts to the heart of democracy, you need to ask yourselves, if you don’t impeach a president who has done what this president has done . . . then what you’re saying is, it’s fine to go ahead and do this again,” testified Standford University professor Pamela S. Karlan.
North Carolina law professor Michael Gerhardt noted that “if what we’re talking about is not impeachable, then nothing is impeachable.”
But George Washington University professor Jonathan Turley claimed impeaching Trump is a “historic mistake.”
“If the House proceeds solely on the Ukrainian allegations, this impeachment would stand out among modern impeachments as the shortest proceeding, with the thinnest evidentiary record, and the narrowest grounds ever used to impeach a president,” Turley said. “That does not bode well for future presidents who are working in a country often sharply and, at times, bitterly divided.”
Trump, wrapping up a NATO summit in London where he cut short the visit and left quickly after a viral video showed other leaders making fun of him and his troubles, called Democratic House leaders “unpatriotic.”
“You almost question whether or not they love our country,” Trump said after a meeting with Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte on Wednesday. “And that’s a very serious thing: Do they love our country?”
Hearings last month wiped out the claims of Trump and his allies that his actions with Ukraine did not include “quid pro quo” bribery attempts as diplomats and his own appointments testified that he and his administration lied repeatedly and ignored the law.
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam B. Schiff Thursday made it clear that they are moving quickly to impeach Trump but did not provide a timeline.
In a meeting with Democratic members of the House Thursday, Pelosi asked: “Are you ready?” Shouts of approval came as the response.
Republicans, ignoring the facts that emerged in the hearings, tried to create chaos with motions and delaying tactics before the Judiciary Committee. Motions included requests to delay the hearing, requests to call on Schiff to testify and a demand to subpoena the anonymous whistleblower whose complaints started the fast track to Trump’s impeachment.
Overwhelmingly, the response by most pundits is that Trump deserves impeachment:
The most important charge the Intelligence Committee’s report is this one: that “the President placed his personal political interests above the national interests of the United States.”
Trump’s other offenses flow from this one. That is especially true of his willingness to press foreign governments to meddle in our elections, as he did with Ukraine’s president, or to issue an open invitation to a foreign government to jump right in. That’s what he did with his infamous “Russia, if you’re listening” comment during the 2016 campaign.
Trump’s narrow, obsessive focus on himself and himself alone is now so widely accepted that it is taken for granted. Thus, the profound threat that this poses to our interests as a nation is routinely ignored or played down.
A remaining question is how broad the House should be when it draws up the actual articles of impeachment.
Trump’s bribery of Ukraine is just one of his many crimes as president. An objective assessment of his actions clearly determines his absolute corruption and misuse of the powers of the presidency.
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