Dec. 4 (UPI) — Four legal experts scheduled to testify before the House judiciary Committee Wednesday were set to make differing arguments on whether impeaching President Donald Trump is justified.
The hearing will begin at 10 a.m. EST with the testimony from the quartet of constitutional law experts.
Among the prepared remarks released by the witnesses prior to the committee’s first impeachment hearing, Republican witness Jonathan Turley, a George Washington University Law School professor, contended the case against Trump was “thin” and warned that a finding to impeach Trump would set a damaging precedent for future U.S. presidents.
“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 wrote. “That does not bode well for future presidents who are working in a country often sharply and, at times, bitterly divided.”
Three other legal and constitutional scholars called by Democrats, however, each made cases about why impeaching the president was justified.
Michael Gerhardt of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill said Trump’s “misconduct is apparent” and included impeachable offenses such as obstruction of justice, obstruction of Congress and bribery.
Another Democratic witness, Pamela Karlan of Stanford Law School, issued an opening statement in which she said the evidence shows Trump delayed providing foreign military assistance meant to limit “Russian aggression” in order to “strong-arm a foreign leader into smearing” one of his domestic political opponents.
A third expert called by Democrats, Noah Feldman of Harvard Law School, stated the evidence meets the constitutional threshold for “high crimes and misdemeanors” and amounted to a “corrupt abuse of the power of the presidency.”
Wednesday’s hearing comes a day after the House intelligence committee voted to approve a report accusing Trump of obstructing the impeachment probe and asking Ukraine to interfere in the 2020 presidential election.
The committee based the report on weeks of private and public testimony from more than a dozen diplomats and other officials, which led Democrats to the conclusion that there is sufficient evidence to suggest the Trump administration threatened to withhold $250 million in congressionally approved military aid to Ukraine in exchange for investigations of Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden by the government in Kiev.
Republicans on the intelligence committee released their own report a day earlier, which defended Trump’s decision to withhold the aid to Ukraine — saying it was based on reasonable skepticism due to the country’s history of corruption. Administration officials and Trump, who ultimately released the aid in September, have repeatedly said they held up the payment due to concerns about how it would be used by President Volodymyr Zelensky‘s government.
In London for NATO’s 70th anniversary summit on Tuesday, Trump dismissed the impeachment proceedings as a hoax.
“If you look at impeachment, the word impeachment, here there was nothing wrong, nothing done wrong,” he said.
Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Va., said Nadler is “more than up to the task” of leading the next phase of the impeachment proceedings.
“Jerry Nadler is in his own right a constitutional scholar,” Connolly said. “He specializes here in constitutional law, and he’s a very measured person in terms of parsing through issues and looking at them through a very disciplined mind, and he will bring that kind of legal temperament to the task at hand.”