That inquiry began with several weeks of closed-door hearings by the Intelligence, Foreign Affairs and Oversight committees, followed by another two weeks of public hearings before the Intelligence Committee. The three committees on Tuesday approved a 300-page report in which they charged Trump with misconduct for seeking election interference from the Ukrainians, and obstruction of justice for refusing to cooperate with congressional investigators and for prohibiting aides from testifying. That report was sent to the Judiciary Committee, which is charged with deciding whether to draw up articles of impeachment. Rep. Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., and chairman of the Judiciary Committee, left little doubt Wednesday where he stands. “Never before has a president engaged in a course of conduct that included all of the acts that most concerned the Framers,” Nadler said in his opening statement. The three scholars handpicked by Democrats all agreed with Nadler that Trump’s actions met the definition of what the framers had in mind when they wrote impeachment into the Constitution. Michael Gerhardt, a professor of constitutional law at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, testified that “boundaries will just evaporate” if Congress does not impeach Trump, as future presidents will take it as a green light to take similar actions. “The president has committed several impeachable offenses, including bribery, abuse of power and soliciting of personal favor from a foreign leader to benefit himself personally, obstructing justice and obstructing Congress,” Gerhardt said. But George Washington University Law Professor Jonathan Turley, the Republicans’ lone witness, said he does not believe the accusations leveled against Trump rise to the standard of impeachment. “I believe this impeachment not only fails to satisfy the standard of past impeachments but would create a dangerous precedent for future impeachments,” said Turley, who made a point of saying he did not vote for Trump in 2016.
The President’s obstruction of Congress has been occurring since March when we initially began investigating the President’s misconduct in relation to the Special Counsel’s investigation. There is pattern of behavior we are seeing exhibited by the President. pic.twitter.com/vzrslTgm1R— House Judiciary Dems (@HouseJudiciary) December 4, 2019
The testimony brought a sharp rebuke from Rep. Doug Collins, R-Ga., who accused the witnesses of simply “pandering to the cameras.” “To in some way insinuate on a live mic with a lot of people listening, that the Founding Fathers would have found President Trump guilty, is just simply malpractice with these facts before us,” Collins said. “That is simply just not right.” In the most fiery moment, Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., called out Stanford Law School Professor Pamela Karlan, grilling her over donations to the campaigns of Democrats including Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, 2016 presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and former President Barack Obama.
Karlan said it’s her constitutional right to donate to whomever she wants. When asked why she gave more to Clinton than current candidate Warren, Karlan drew applause from the audience when she said she has been giving more to charities recently “because of all of the poor people in the United States.” Despite the partisan fireworks, Lesko said she does not believe the hearing changed any minds. “If they’re trying to sway the public, I don’t think this particular witness group is going to do it because they’re talking about what happened back in the House of Commons, back in the 1800s,” Lesko said. “I don’t think most people are going to stay tuned in.” For more stories from Cronkite News, visit cronkitenews.azpbs.org.
Today is a historic day for the House of Representatives and @HouseJudiciary. Following the production & referral of a comprehensive and damning report from @HouseIntel, the House Judiciary Committee will now begin to determine whether to recommend Articles of #Impeachment... pic.twitter.com/A1rwnCN45q— Sheila Jackson Lee (@JacksonLeeTX18) December 4, 2019
This story originally appeared on Cronkite News and is published via a Creative Commons license. Cronkite News is produced by the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.