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World Impeachment hearings live updates: Scholars called by Democrats testify that Trump’s conduct is grounds for removal from office

23:41  04 december  2019
23:41  04 december  2019 Source:   washingtonpost.com

House Democrats lay out case for formal Trump impeachment

  House Democrats lay out case for formal Trump impeachment The House Judiciary Committee received a detailed summing up of the impeachment case against President Donald Trump Monday as Democrats prepare formal charges against him. Trump and his allies lobbed fresh assaults on the proceedings they dismiss as a hoax and a sham. Democratic lawyers outlined the findings so far, saying Trump’s push to have Ukraine investigate rival Joe Biden while at the same time withholding U.S. military aid ran counter to U.S. policy and benefited Russia as well as himself.

Turley insisted that he was not testifying that the evidence against Trump would not ultimately be a Ken Buck (R-Colo.) accused the legal experts called by Democrats of setting a standard for impeachment Turley also warned Democrats about impeaching Trump on a “narrow” set of facts

At the heart of Democrats ’ case is the allegation that Trump tried to leverage a White House ●House Democrats release report charging that Trump abused his office as impeachment inquiry enters Ken Buck (R-Colo.) accused the legal experts called by Democrats of setting a standard for

 Video provided by NBC News

Three constitutional scholars summoned by Democrats are testifying Wednesday that President Trump’s conduct toward Ukraine rises to the level of impeachment, as the inquiry moves to a new phase with the first hearing by the House Judiciary Committee, a panel prone to theatrics and partisan brawls.

Another law school professor, tapped by Republicans, will caution against impeachment. The focus has shifted from the House Intelligence Committee, which voted along party lines Tuesday to approve a 300-page report that concluded that Trump had “compromised national security to advance his personal political interests.”

Bill Clinton weighs in on Trump impeachment: Congress 'doing their job'

  Bill Clinton weighs in on Trump impeachment: Congress 'doing their job' Former President Bill Clinton, who went through the same process, weighed in on House Democrats' bid to impeach President Trump.Former President Bill Clinton, the only living American president to have gone through the same process, weighed in Tuesday on House Democrats' bid to impeach President Trump — saying lawmakers are doing “what they believe is right.

Trump declined an invitation from Nadler to participate in the hearing . By John Wagner. 1:05 PM: ‘If you rush this impeachment , you’re going to leave In particular, Turley took aim at what he called a “boundless” definition of bribery and Democrats ’ apparent determination to impeach Trump for

In a daylong hearing convened by the Judiciary Committee, three constitutional scholars invited by Democrats testified that evidence of Mr. Trump ’ s efforts to They said his defiance of Congress’s investigative requests was further grounds for charging him. A fourth scholar invited by Republicans

At the heart of Democrats’ case is the allegation that Trump tried to leverage a White House meeting and military aid, sought by Ukraine in the face of Russian military aggression, to pressure President Volodymyr Zelensky to launch investigations of former vice president Joe Biden and his son Hunter, as well as an unfounded theory that Kyiv conspired with Democrats to interfere in the 2016 presidential election. 

Pictures: Impeachment push by Trump


House committee to take historic vote on Trump impeachment

  House committee to take historic vote on Trump impeachment The House Judiciary Committee is expected to approve articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump.Approval of the two charges against the president would send the matter to the full House for a vote expected next week.

12:45 p.m. GOP Rep. Buck suggests Democrats’ impeachment standard would have put FDR, Kennedy, Obama at risk

Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colo.) accused the legal experts called by Democrats of setting a standard for impeachment that is so low -- abuse of power for personal or political gain, as he defined it -- that virtually no recent Democratic president could avoid it.

“When Franklin Delano Roosevelt, when he was president, directed the IRS to conduct audits of his political enemies ... would that be impeachable conduct?” Buck asked Turley, citing claims by conservative scholars.

“I think it all would be subsumed into it,” Turley replied.

Noah Feldman, a professor of law at Harvard University Law School, testifies as the U.S. House Judiciary Committee holds their first hearing on the impeachment inquiry into U.S. President Donald Trump on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., December 4, 2019. © REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst Noah Feldman, a professor of law at Harvard University Law School, testifies as the U.S. House Judiciary Committee holds their first hearing on the impeachment inquiry into U.S. President Donald Trump on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., December 4, 2019.

“How about when President Kennedy directed his brother, Robert Kennedy, to deport one of his mistresses as an East German spy?” Buck asked, in an apparent reference to Ellen Rometsch, a woman linked to JFK.

Turley said he couldn’t rule it out, nor could he do so when he asked about allegations that President Lyndon Johnson used the CIA to plant a spy in the campaign of his 1964 Republican opponent, Barry Goldwater.

Buck ultimately landed on President Barack Obama, pointing to his interpretation of the recess appointments power that was later rejected by a unanimous Supreme Court, as well as his response to the 2012 Benghazi attack.

“Can you name a single president in the history of the United States -- save President [William Henry] Harrison, who died 32 days after his inauguration -- that would not have met the standard of impeachment for our friends here?” Buck asked.

Pamela Karlan, professor of Public Interest Law and co-director of the Supreme Court Litigation Clinic at Stanford Law School, testifies during a House Judiciary Committee hearing on the impeachment inquiry into U.S. President Donald Trump on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., December 4, 2019. © REUTERS/Tom Brenner Pamela Karlan, professor of Public Interest Law and co-director of the Supreme Court Litigation Clinic at Stanford Law School, testifies during a House Judiciary Committee hearing on the impeachment inquiry into U.S. President Donald Trump on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., December 4, 2019.

“I would hope to God James Madison would escape,” said Turley, a Madisonian scholar. “Otherwise, a lifetime of academic work would be shredded. But once again, I can’t exclude many of these acts.”

Giuliani associate asks court to release material for impeachment inquiry

  Giuliani associate asks court to release material for impeachment inquiry A lawyer for Giuliani associate Lev Parnas petitions the court to release documents and recordings seized by feds.Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., is seen in the audience during the House Intelligence Committee hearing, on Nov. 21.

By Mike DeBonis AD 

12:30 p.m. White House official suggests Trump preparing to wage aggressive effort in Senate trial

A top White House official said Wednesday that Trump would like to see a full trial and witnesses in the Senate chamber should the impeachment fight shift to the other side of the Capitol in the coming weeks.

The comments from Eric Ueland, the White House director of legislative affairs, signal that the White House is preparing for an aggressive trial with live witnesses on the Senate floor, rather than videotaped depositions of witnesses that were ultimately entered into evidence during former president Bill Clinton’s Senate impeachment trial in 1999.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., speaks during his opening statement during a hearing before the House Judiciary Committee on the constitutional grounds for the impeachment of President Donald Trump, Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2019, on Capitol Hill in Washington. © AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin House Judiciary Committee Chairman Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., speaks during his opening statement during a hearing before the House Judiciary Committee on the constitutional grounds for the impeachment of President Donald Trump, Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2019, on Capitol Hill in Washington.

“The president wants his case made fully in the Senate,” Ueland said after meeting with GOP senators on Capitol Hill on Wednesday.

“In this instance, we believe very strongly – given the fatally flawed process in the House – that if they were to elect against our better advice [and] send over impeachment to the Senate, that we need witnesses as part of our trial and a full defense of the president on the facts,” added Ueland, pointing to the Senate chamber as he spoke to reporters.

When asked whether his hand gesture meant witnesses should testify in the actual Senate chamber, Ueland responded: “Thank you counsel. I have no objection.”

White House officials present at the Republican lunch on Capitol Hill – Ueland, White House counsel Pat Cipollone, and impeachment strategy advisers Pam Bondi and Tony Sayegh – did not delve into details of whom they would like called in the chamber as witnesses nor other details of the impending Senate trial, according to senators.

“All the issues remain the same: Sham process, the fight doesn’t deserve to even come over here but if it does, we’ll have to deal with it,” Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.) said, summing up the White House’s message to GOP senators.

By Seung Min Kim and Paul Kane

11:50 a.m. ‘While the president can name his son Barron, he can’t make him a baron,’ Karlan says

Pamela Karlan, of Stanford Law School, sought to distinguish a president from a king after Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas) prompted her to articulate how Trump’s power is different from a monarch’s, if at all.

The president has said Article II of the Constitution allows him to do, essentially, whatever he wants.

Karlan said that was not so and gave one example that won her applause: the Constitution says there can’t be any noble titles in the U.S.

“While the president can name his son Barron, he can’t make him a baron,” she said.

By Rachael Bade

11:30 a.m. Senate 2020 calendar leaves out January due to uncertainty over impeachment trial

The 2020 floor schedule for the Senate, released Wednesday with dates of when senators are expected to be in Washington vs. at home, begins in February.

That’s because, according to the Senate whip’s office, no one knows what the Senate will be doing the first month of the year.

“Unfortunately due to uncertainty on the floor schedule for start of the year, the Senate is unable to establish a schedule for January at this time. When we have clarity on a date to convene and what January will look like we will get that information out as soon as possible,” the whip’s office said in a statement.

The House is expected to vote on articles of impeachment by the end of 2019. If Trump is impeached, the Senate would likely begin its trial in January.

By Colby Itkowitz

11:45 a.m. Judiciary hearing resumes

Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) gaveled the hearing back into session following House votes, with members of both parties expected to resume questioning the witnesses.

By Felicia Sonmez

2:25 PM. Katyal accuses Republicans of misrepresenting his writing on Biden 

Neal Katyal, a law professor at Georgetown University who was previously acting U.S. solicitor general, accused Republicans of misrepresenting an excerpt of his book during Wednesday’s hearing.

Paul Taylor, the Republican counsel, read aloud a passage about the Bidens from Katyal’s book, “Impeach: The Case Against Donald Trump.”

“Is what Hunter Biden did wrong?” the passage reads. “Absolutely. Hunter Biden had no real experience in the energy sector, which made him wholly unqualified to sit on the board of Burisma. The only logical reason the company could have had for appointing him was his ties to Vice President Biden. This kind of nepotism isn’t only wrong; it is a potential danger to our country, since it makes it easier for foreign powers to buy influence. … No politician, from either party, should allow a foreign power to conduct this kind of influence peddling with their family members.”

But Katyal noted on Twitter that where Republicans inserted an ellipsis, his book includes a paragraph in which he focuses on the actions of Trump’s children and son-in-law and states that Hunter Biden’s conduct was “not illegal.”

“Wow. I just watched Republicans lie about my book in the impeachment [hearing],” Katyal said in a tweet. “Compare what they said my book said w/what I actually said. They’re trying to distract from their cowardice re a lawless president who tried to cheat to win reelection. They omitted the yellow highlighted.”

“If a lawyer did this, they may face disciplinary action for such a misleading representation of what a source said,” he added.

1:30 PM: In announcing retirement, Rep. Heck says he is ‘discouraged’ by Republicans on impeachment 

Rep. Dennis Heck (D-Wash.) announced his retirement from Congress in a statement in which he also voiced disappointment with how his Republican colleagues have responded to the impeachment inquiry.

Heck, a member of the House Intelligence Committee, has served in Congress since 2013.

“In the spirit of complete openness, part of me is also discouraged,” Heck said in the statement, which was posted on the website Medium. “The countless hours I have spent in the investigation of Russian election interference and the impeachment inquiry have rendered my soul weary.”

“I will never understand how some of my colleagues, in many ways good people, could ignore or deny the President’s unrelenting attack on a free press, his vicious character assassination of anyone who disagreed with him, and his demonstrably very distant relationship with the truth. … There are simply too many hyperbolic adjectives and too few nouns. Civility is out. Compromise is out. All or nothing is in,” he added.

By Felicia Sonmez

1:30 PM: Hearing in recess

Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) announced a recess in the hearing so that panel members could take part in votes scheduled on the House floor.

By John Wagner

1:25 PM: Professors at odds on courts must weigh in

Legal experts were at odds Wednesday about whether Trump had broken written laws and whether the courts have to weigh in before Congress could legitimately conclude he was guilty of high crimes and misdemeanors.

Turley had argued that the evidence against Trump fell short of proving he had committed an act of bribery, and that Democrats should have taken their subpoenas to the courts to enforce before launching impeachment proceedings.

Gerhardt rejected the latter argument, saying Trump’s “refusal to comply with the subpoenas is an independent event that is apart from the courts.”

“It’s a direct assault on the legitimacy of this inquiry,” he said.

Feldman, meanwhile, argued that Turley’s point about bribery discounted the fact that the Constitution is the highest law in the land and it defines bribery as a crime.

“If the House believes that the president solicited something of value, then that would constitute bribery under the meaning of the Constitution, and it would not be lawless,” Feldman said.

Turley disagreed, arguing that it was a “circular argument to say ‘well, the Constitution is law.’”

“It doesn’t define the crime, it references the crime,” he said.

By Karoun Demirjian

1:15 PM: Nadler notes absence of lawyer for Trump 

After an extended period of questions by Rep. Douglas A. Collins (Ga.), the top Republican on the panel, and a GOP lawyer, Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) noted that a lawyer for Trump would be permitted to ask questions at that point if he were present.

Trump declined an invitation from Nadler to participate in the hearing.

By John Wagner

1:05 PM: ‘If you rush this impeachment, you’re going to leave half the country behind,’ Turley says

George Washington University professor Jonathan Turley warned House Democrats against moving too fast on impeachment, moving ahead on a partisan basis and moving to oust Trump on a “narrow” set of issues only focused on Ukraine.

“Impeachments require a certain period of saturation and maturation,” Turley told lawmakers. “That is, the public has to catch up… If you rush this impeachment, you’re going to leave half the country behind. And certainly, that’s not what … the Framers wanted.”

He added: “You have to give the time to build a record. This isn’t an impulse buy item. You’re trying to remove a duly elected president of the United States. And that takes time. It takes work.”

He comments, which came on the 71st day of the impeachment, might strike a nerve for some House Democrats who have privately expressed frustration about how quickly they’re moving toward impeachment. Most, however, have kept their concerns private out of respect for Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), whose leadership team appears intent on finishing impeachment before the holiday break.

Turley also warned Democrats about impeaching Trump on a “narrow” set of facts, another sore subject for the party, which has been privately debating whether to include other misdeeds by the president in a more robust set of articles of impeachment.

Turley argued that the Founders wanted impeachment to be such a rare effort that they didn’t even use it at a time when they were actually trying to kill each other.

By Rachael Bade

12:50 PM: Turley says impeaching Trump for going to the courts is a congressional abuse of power 

In the opening minutes of Republican questioning, Collins gave free rein to George Washington University professor Jonathan Turley to lay out his objections to the Democratic arguments for impeachment.

In particular, Turley took aim at what he called a “boundless” definition of bribery and Democrats’ apparent determination to impeach Trump for challenging the legitimacy of House subpoenas.

“President Trump has gone ... to the courts. He’s allowed to do that -- we have three branches, not two,” Turley said. “If you impeach a president, if you make a high crime and misdemeanor out of going to the courts, it is an abuse of power. It’s your abuse of power. You are doing precisely what you’re criticizing the president for doing.”

Turley, in attacking the Democratic interpretation of bribery, cited the recent Supreme Court decision in the case of former Virginia governor Robert McDonnell (R), whose conviction was overturned by the high court, which held that the facts of the case did not meet the definition of bribery.

He argued the controlling legal definition of bribery should matter, even if impeachment isn’t a legal proceeding.

“You can’t accuse a president of bribery and, then, when some of us note that the Supreme Court has rejected your type of boundless interpretation, say, ‘Well, it’s just impeachment; we really don’t have to prove the elements,’” Turley said. “This isn’t improvisational jazz. Close enough is not good enough. If you’re going to accuse a president of bribery, you need to make it stick, because you’re trying to remove a duly elected president of the United States.”

By Mike DeBonis

12:35 PM: Hearing has resumed with GOP questioning

The Judiciary Committee hearing has resumed with questions by Rep. Doug Collins (Ga.), the top Republican on the panel, and the GOP counsel.

Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) granted a 10-minute “humanitarian recess” that stretched closer to 25 minutes.

By: John Wagner

12:25 PM: Trump leaves London en route to United States

Trump has left London on Air Force One and is en route to the United States. He is scheduled to return to the White House on Wednesday night.

Before departing, Trump canceled a planned news conference. Earlier, he told reporters that he had answered plenty of questions already while at the NATO gathering.

By John Wagner

12:15 PM: White House press secretary criticizes ‘sham’ hearing

White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham weighed in during a break in the hearing, claiming that three of the law professors testifying were biased against Trump and that the president was being afforded “no rights.”

“3 of 4 ‘experts’ in this sham hearing have known biases against @realDonaldTrump,” Grisham tweeted. “Not only is @POTUS given no rights in this process,the Dems’ ‘witnesses’ made up their minds long before today.The people of this country are being cheated of a Congress who works for them.”

Trump declined an invitation by House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) to have a lawyer participate in the hearing.

By John Wagner

12:10 PM: ‘If what we’re talking about is not impeachable, then nothing is impeachable,’ professor says

University of North Carolina law professor Michael Gerhardt delivered one of the most memorable lines of the hearing so far in response to Democratic questioning — a line that quickly took off on social media.

“I just want to stress that if what we’re talking about is not impeachable, then nothing is impeachable,” Gerhardt said. “This is precisely the misconduct that the framers created a Constitution including impeachment to protect against.”

Gerhart added that if Congress takes “no action, if Congress concludes they’re going to give a pass to the president here ... every other president will say, ‘Okay, then I can do the same thing,’ and the boundaries will just evaporate.”

He called this possibility a “danger to all of us.”

The remark came in response to a question about whether Trump committed bribery, which Gerhardt and the other experts invited by the Democrats agreed that he did.

By Elise Viebeck

12:00 PM: Professors say Trump guilty of bribery, obstruction of Congress

Law professors invited to testify by Democrats agreed that Trump was guilty of a number of impeachable offenses, including bribery and obstruction of Congress.

Under questioning from Norm Eisen, the Democrats’ top committee counsel, Stanford University professor Pamela S. Karlan said that if you conclude that Trump “asked for the investigation of Vice President Biden and his son [by Ukraine] for political reasons ... then, yes, you have bribery here.”

She said the most “chilling” line of testimony from the first phase of the impeachment inquiry came from Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, when he said Zelensky had to announce investigations but not necessarily carry them out.

“This was about injuring somebody who the president sees as a particularly hard opponent,” Karlan said.

The experts agreed that even attempting to abuse the office of the president is an impeachable offense after Eisen noted that military aid to Ukraine was ultimately released.

“Everyone who has been impeached has failed, failed to get what they wanted,” Gerhardt said.

He gave the example of a bank robber dropping the money and aborting his attempt when caught by police.

“We’ve got somebody caught in the middle of it — that doesn’t excuse the person from the consequences,” Gerhardt said.

The professors also agreed that Trump had obstructed Congress, though Karlan said she could draw that conclusion only as a citizen because the issue was outside her area of expertise.

Eisen largely avoided posing questions to Jonathan Turley, the George Washington University Law School professor invited by Republicans.

By Elise Viebeck

11:50 AM: Experts make the case for ‘high crimes and misdemeanors’

Three of the four witnesses laid out the case for why the Judiciary Committee should charge Trump with high crimes and misdemeanors in a back-and-forth with the Democrats’ top committee counsel Norm Eisen.

“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 testified. “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.”

The questioning had the air of an introductory constitutional law class focused on impeachment – including a featured chart listing the A, the B, and the C of high crimes and misdemeanors: Abuse of Power, Betrayal of National Interest, and Corruption of Elections.

Eisen asked the law professors to explain whether it was necessary for Trump to have committed a statutory crime to be impeached. University of North Carolina law professor Michael Gerhardt said no. The scale of Trump’s obstruction was an abuse, he stressed, because it “torpedoes” the separation of powers in the Constitution.

“If what we’re talking about is not impeachable, then nothing is impeachable,” he said.

Stanford University professor Pamela S. Karlan shared that view and stressed that giving Trump a pass would encourage future presidents to undermine elections and U.S. national security for personal benefit.

“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,” Karlan said. “It’s your responsibility to make sure that all Americans get to vote in a free and fair election next November.”

By Karoun Demirjian

11:45 AM: Pelosi makes clear to Democrats impeachment is coming

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam B. Schiff left little doubt with fellow Democrats Wednesday that they plan to move swiftly to impeach Trump as soon as this month.

According to multiple Democratic lawmakers who attended a closed-door Capitol meeting prior to the Judiciary Committee hearing, Pelosi (D-Calif.) announced no firm decision or timeline in moving toward Trump’s impeachment. But, a day after Schiff (D-Calif.) delivered a 300-page report detailing charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress against Trump, she made clear what lay ahead in the House.

“Are you ready?” Pelosi asked her colleagues, after describing the grave constitutional circumstances posed by Trump’s alleged wrongdoing surrounding his dealings with Ukraine and his subsequent decision to stonewall the House investigation into it.The caucus, according to multiple members, erupted with shouts of approval.

“We’re moving forward,” said one member, summarizing the thrust of Pelosi’s remarks and speaking on condition of anonymity to candidly describe a private meeting. “We’ve got a job to do whether people want to testify or not.”

Pelosi then turned the room over to Schiff, who received a standing ovation before saying a word, the members said.

By Mike DeBonis and Rachael Bade

11:30 AM: Committee rejects Republican motion to subpoena whistleblower

In the third roll-call vote of the day, the Judiciary Committee voted to table a motion by Rep. Guy Reschenthaler (R-Pa.) to subpoena the anonymous whistleblower whose complaint about Trump’s efforts to pressure Ukraine led to the impeachment inquiry.

The motion, like the two others before it, was rejected on a party-line vote. The vote came shortly after the four witnesses wrapped up their opening statements.

A Republican Judiciary Committee aide noted that the motion would have subpoenaed the whistleblower to appear in a closed executive session of the committee, reflecting the fact that the panel “has the procedural means to accommodate the whistleblower’s interest in protecting his/her identity while accommodating Congress’s need to investigate the facts of this impeachment case.”

By Felicia Sonmez

11:20 AM: Opening statements conclude

The opening statements of the four law professors have concluded. Questions from panel lawyers and lawmakers are expected to begin shortly.

By John Wagner

11:00 AM: ‘Impeachment’ is a ‘dirty word,’ Trump says 

After a meeting with Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte on the sidelines of the NATO summit in London, Trump answered a few questions from reporters about the Judiciary Committee hearing and the Intelligence Committee’s impeachment report.

He also harshly criticized the use of the word “impeachment” itself.

“The word ‘impeachment’ is a dirty word that should only be used in special occasions,” Trump said.

He argued that it was a bad thing for the country for Democrats to hold Wednesday’s hearing, and he questioned their love for the United States.

“You almost question whether or not they love our country, and that’s a very serious thing: Do they love our country?” he asked.

Trump also called the Intelligence Committee’s report a “joke” and said that “everybody is saying it.”

“It is a uniform statement pretty much right down the road that what they’re doing is a very bad thing for our country,” he said.

By Felicia Sonmez

10:50 AM: Judiciary panel rejects GOP effort to move hearing to Dec. 11

Republicans again sought to delay the hearing, and yet again Democrats blocked their efforts.

The Judiciary panel tabled a motion by Rep. Kelly Armstrong (R-N.D.) that would have postponed the hearing to Dec. 11. The motion was rejected on a party-line vote.

By Felicia Sonmez

10:40 AM: Nadler swears in witnesses

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold L. Nadler has sworn in the four law professors scheduled to testify on Wednesday.

By John Wagner

10:35 AM: Judiciary Committee rejects motion for Schiff to testify

The House Judiciary Committee voted to table a motion by Republicans to call House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.) to testify.

Republicans have repeatedly argued that Schiff should be forced to testify on his and his panel’s contacts with the anonymous whistleblower whose complaint launched the impeachment inquiry. Democrats have countered that such efforts are an attempt by Republicans to divert attention away from the allegations against Trump.

After the Judiciary Committee voted to table the motion, there was a further back and forth as Republicans once again sought to impede the hearing. Then Nadler introduced the four witnesses.

By Felicia Sonmez

10:30 AM: ‘This is just a simple railroad job,’ Collins says in opening statement

The top Republican on the Judiciary Committee defended Trump in a blistering opening statement that called the impeachment inquiry a “sad story” that is being driven by partisan hostility, “not the facts.”

“We have just a deep-seated hatred of a man who came to the White House and did what he said he was going to do,” said Rep. Douglas A. Collins (R-Ga.). “This is not an impeachment. This is just a simple railroad job.”

Collins said the Democratic-led inquiry was being led by the “clock and the calendar” and accused the majority party of being committed to impeachment starting with Trump’s election.

“You just don’t like the guy,” he said. “The chairman has talked about impeachment since last year when he was elected chairman.”

By Elise Viebeck

10:20 AM: Nadler hints at potentially impeaching Trump on all constitutional grounds

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) opened his panel’s first impeachment hearing by dropping a hint that he would seek multiple charges against Trump, covering “all of the acts that most concerned the Framers.”

The list of impeachable offenses envisioned in the Constitution has been repeated by several Democratic leaders in recent days, including: “treason, bribery or other high crimes and misdemeanors.”

“Never before in the history of the republic … has the president engaged in a course of conduct that included all of the acts that most concerned the Framers,” Nadler said.

Nadler argued that there was ample “precedent for recommending impeachment” on the grounds of obstruction of justice and obstruction of Congress, noting that President Richard Nixon had given Congress recordings during his impeachment, and “former President Clinton his blood.” (Clinton provided a blood sample during the investigation that ultimately led to his impeachment.”

Trump’s “level of obstruction is without precedent,” Nadler argued.

On Tuesday, House Intelligence Committee chairman Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.) said he believed Trump efforts to hold back official acts until Ukraine’s president committed to conduct investigations into a political rival constituted “bribery.”

But Nadler stressed that Trump had “directly and specifically invited” the “one threat above all” that the Framers envisioned: “foreign interference in our elections” — suggesting that Trump may have “betrayed his country for private personal gain.”

According to Nadler, “The facts before us are clear: President Trump did not merely seek to benefit from foreign interference in our elections, he directly and specifically invited foreign interference in our elections…He was willing to compromise our security and his office for personal political gain.”

By Karoun Demirjian

10:10 AM: Republicans demand their own day of hearings, attempt to delay Nadler

The hearing opened with polite but obvious tensions between the two parties.

As Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) gaveled the room to order, Rep. F. James Sensenbrenner Jr. (R-Wis.) interrupted with a formal request for a day of hearings to be run by Republicans without input from the Democratic majority.

“I am furnishing you with a demand for a minority day of hearings on this subject signed by all of the Republican members of the committee, and I would request that you set this date before the committee votes on any articles of impeachment,” Sensenbrenner said.

“We will confer and rule on this later,” Nadler said.

A Republican Judiciary Committee aide, requesting anonymity to speak candidly about GOP strategy, said the request is not subject to Nadler’s discretion and that if the chairman declines to schedule the hearing, a point of order could be raised on the House floor against articles of impeachment.

A letter sent to Nadler by GOP members of the committee, circulated by the Republican side, cited part of a House rule that allows members of the minority party to “call witnesses selected by the minority to testify with respect to that measure or matter.”

“While the Chairman of the committee schedules the minority hearing, ‘his responsibility to invite the minority’s witnesses is ministerial. A Chairman cannot refuse to invite a witness because he believes the witnesses’ testimony would be impertinent,’” the letter stated.

By Elise Viebeck

10:15 AM: Trump campaign mockingly calls impeachment witnesses ‘the Three Stooges’ 

Trump’s 2020 presidential campaign manager Brad Parscale mocked the three witnesses called by Democrats Wednesday, labeling them “the Three Stooges” and “liberal Democrats” in a tweet.

Parscale also sent out a video featuring footage of the three professors making critical comments about Trump and his administration.

“Meet the Three Stooges, the new impeachment ‘witnesses’ the Democrats are trotting out today to continue their impeachment hoax,” Parscale said. “They’re liberal Democrats who oppose President Trump and support impeachment. Just more of the same old sham!”

By Felicia Sonmez

10:07 AM: Nadler gavels open the impeachment hearing 

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) has gaveled open the panel’s first hearing on impeachment.

By John Wagner

9:30 AM: Democrats huddle behind closed doors 

House Democrats are holding a members-only caucus meeting ahead of the planned Judiciary Committee hearing, according to a Democratic aide.

The lawmakers are hearing from Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam B. Schiff (Calif.) about the report his panel released Tuesday that detailed Trump’s conduct toward Ukraine, according to the aide, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss private deliberations.

By Mike DeBonis

9:10 AM: Collins says the hearing will tell the American people ‘nothing’

Rep. Douglas A. Collins (Ga.), the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee, sought Wednesday to downplay the significance of the panel’s first hearing on impeachment, noting that none of the witnesses have firsthand knowledge of Trump’s conduct.

“Really what these witnesses are going to tell us is they watched TV over the last couple of weeks, they read some articles, and they’re going to confirm what they’ve already thought,” Collins said during an appearance on Fox News. “That’s why this process today and this hearing today is basically a sham, because you’re getting predetermined answers from predetermined witnesses. What does that actually tell the American people? Nothing.”

By John Wagner

A Republican committee staff members puts up signs with quotes from Democratic members of Congress behind Republican seats on the committee dais before the start of a House Judiciary Committee hearing on the impeachment Inquiry into U.S. President Donald Trump on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., December 4, 2019. © REUTERS/Mike Segar A Republican committee staff members puts up signs with quotes from Democratic members of Congress behind Republican seats on the committee dais before the start of a House Judiciary Committee hearing on the impeachment Inquiry into U.S. President Donald Trump on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., December 4, 2019.

8:45 AM: Lawyers tapped by Democrats say Trump’s conduct rises to level of impeachment

The three scholars tapped by Democrats will testify Wednesday that Trump’s conduct toward Ukraine rises to the level of an impeachable offense, according to written testimony submitted to the Judiciary Committee.

In his written testimony, University of North Carolina law professor Michael Gerhardt says that Trump’s conduct is “worse than the misconduct of any prior president, including what previous presidents who faced impeachment have done or been accused of doing.”

According to Gerhardt, “the record compiled thus far shows that the president has committed several impeachable offenses, including bribery, abuse of power in soliciting a personal favor from a foreign leader to benefit his political campaign, obstructing Congress, and obstructing justice.”

In his written testimony, Harvard Law School professor Noah Feldman says the July 25 call in which Trump pressed Zelensky to investigate the Bidens on its own “qualifies as an impeachable high crime and misdemeanor.”

“President Trump’s conduct described in the testimony and evidence clearly constitutes an impeachable high crime and misdemeanor under the Constitution,” Feldman says.

Meanwhile, in her written testimony, Stanford University professor Pamela S. Karlan says “what has happened in the case before you is something that I do not think we have ever seen before: a president who has doubled down on violating his oath to ‘faithfully execute’ the laws and to ‘protect and defend the Constitution.’ ”

“The evidence reveals a President who used the powers of his office to demand that a foreign government participate in undermining a competing candidate for the presidency,” Karlan says. “If we are to keep faith with the Constitution and our Republic, President Trump must be held to account.”

By John Wagner and Donna Cassata

Members of the news media line up outside of the hearing room, ahead of a House Judiciary Committee impeachment hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., U.S., December 4, 2019. © REUTERS/Tom Brenner Members of the news media line up outside of the hearing room, ahead of a House Judiciary Committee impeachment hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., U.S., December 4, 2019.

8:30 AM: GOP witness Turley to caution committee against impeachment on Ukraine controversy

George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley, the sole witness called by Republicans on Wednesday, will tell the Judiciary Committee that impeaching Trump would be a historic mistake, according to written testimony provided to the committee.

In his testimony, Turley notes that he voted against Trump in 2016 and has been critical of many of his policies.

Yet, in his 53-page submission to the committee Turley argues that the Ukraine controversy does not provide a robust reason to impeach Trump.

“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 says. “That does not bode well for future presidents who are working in a country often sharply and, at times, bitterly divided.”

By: John Wagner and Mike DeBonis

8:10 AM: Bondi predicts GOP questioning of scholars about political bias

Pam Bondi, the former Florida state attorney general hired to assist Trump with impeachment messaging, predicted Wednesday that Republicans on the Judiciary Committee would question the constitutional scholars about political bias.

“I think you’re going to hear a lot of great cross-examination from Republicans talking about their bias to begin with,” Bondi said during an appearance on Fox Business Network.

Bondi also explained why Trump declined to send a lawyer to the hearing.

“We have great members of the House Judiciary who are going to be there,” she said. “You know, this is a sham process from day one, and why would we participate in it?”

Bondi also echoed criticism from Trump and his allies of Democrats for holding impeachment proceedings while he is meeting with NATO leaders overseas.

“To do this when a president is in foreign land meeting with world leaders, doing some of the most important work he can do for our country, they are holding impeachment hearings,” Bondi said. “It’s outrageous. It should outrage every American.”

By: John Wagner

7:40 AM: Nunes files lawsuit against CNN for Ukraine story

Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) has filed a lawsuit against CNN, seeking $435,350,000 in damages and claiming that the news outlet defamed him last month when it published a “demonstrably false hit piece.”

The Nov. 22 story reported that in December 2018, while serving as chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Nunes traveled to Vienna and met with Ukrainian former prosecutor general Victor Shokin to discuss digging up dirt on Biden — which Nunes’s complaint says is untrue.

The lawsuit, filed Tuesday in federal court, alleged violations of Virginia’s law against insults and said CNN reporter Vicky Ward, who wrote the article, and anchor Chris Cuomo, who discussed its details on air, conspired with the network “to boost CNN’s ratings and further the House Democrats’ impeachment ‘inquiry.’”

“In promoting fake news about secret meetings in Vienna with a corrupt former Ukraine prosecutor, CNN pandered to lurid curiosity,” the complaint said.

By: Deanna Paul and Hannah Knowles 

Pictures: Trump's most hair raising quotes

7:30 AM: Judiciary Committee to hear from four constitutional scholars

The spotlight shifts Wednesday to the House Judiciary Committee, which is scheduled to convene at 10 a.m. for a hearing on the historical underpinnings of impeachment.

Four law professors — three chosen by Democrats and one by Republicans — have been summoned to testify on the “constitutional grounds for presidential impeachment” before the 41-member panel.

The three witnesses chosen by Democrats: Harvard Law School professor Noah Feldman, Stanford University professor Pamela S. Karlan and University of North Carolina law professor Michael Gerhardt.

The one invited by Republicans is George Washington University professor Jonathan Turley.

After two weeks of public hearings by the House Intelligence Committee, it will be up to the Judiciary Committee to weigh articles of impeachment against Trump.

Wednesday’s hearing will be similar in format to those held by the Intelligence Committee, with lawyers for the Democrats and Republicans questioning witnesses for an extended period of time before committee members have the opportunity to ask questions in five-minute rounds.

By: John Wagner

7:15 AM: Committee members seek to shape expectations ahead of hearing

Democrats and Republicans on the Judiciary Committee took to morning television Wednesday in an attempt to shape expectations for the panel’s first impeachment hearing.

Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), a staunch defender of Trump, dismissed the planned hearing as a series of “lectures from professors” who have no direct knowledge of Trump’s dealings with Ukraine.

“It will be the law review coming to life,” Gaetz said on the Fox Business Network during an appearance in which he also claimed the impeachment inquiry “seems to be losing steam by the hour.”

Meanwhile, Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) predicted Republicans would seek to create chaos during the proceedings.

“I hope that Republicans don’t treat this as a game, but I am afraid they might,” she said during an appearance on CNN. “We are taking this extremely seriously.”

By: John Wagner

7:00 AM: Trump has full schedule at NATO as Washington focuses on impeachment

As Washington focuses on impeachment, Trump continues to meet with other NATO leaders on Wednesday in London. His schedule at the gathering of the venerable military alliance affords several opportunities to weigh in on what’s happening back home.

Trump has scheduled a news conference shortly after the Judiciary Committee hearing is scheduled to begin. Prior to that, he has several one-on-one meetings with world leaders, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

On Tuesday, Trump welcomed the press to witness long stretches of similar meetings and fielded questions on an array of topics, including the Democratic-led impeachment inquiry.

Trump is scheduled to leave London shortly after noon Eastern and return to the White House on Wednesday evening.

By: John Wagner

6:30 AM: Republicans ramp up attacks on Nadler ahead of his hearing

Republicans stepped up attacks early Wednesday morning on House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), seeking to undermine him in much in the same way they targeted House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.) when his panel was in the spotlight.

“On January 16, 2017 – days before @realDonaldTrump was even sworn in – Jerry Nadler called his victory in 2016 ‘illegitimate,’ ” Republican National Committee chairwoman Ronna McDaniel said in a tweet. “Could Pelosi have chosen anyone more biased to lead Round 2 of this charade??”

Meanwhile, Trump campaign spokesman Tim Murtaugh sought to downplay the significance of what was about to unfold in front of Nadler’s committee.

“Today’s ‘hearing’ is pretty much what you’d see on any @MSNBC panel,” he tweeted. “Liberal academics hyperventilating about their hatred of Trump. They’re former Obama & Clinton staffers AND donors. They’ve floated or backed impeachment for years already.”

“All that’s missing is Maddow,” he added, referring to MSNBC host Rachel Maddow.

By: John Wagner

Giuliani associate asks court to release material for impeachment inquiry .
A lawyer for Giuliani associate Lev Parnas petitions the court to release documents and recordings seized by feds.Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., is seen in the audience during the House Intelligence Committee hearing, on Nov. 21.

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