Scholars respond to the question: Is President Trump’s behavior an impeachable offense?

White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham spoke during a break in the judiciary hearing. In her short presser, she said that three of the law professors testifying were biased against Trump and that the president was being afforded “no rights.”

President Trump and his attorney were asked to participate in the hearings. He declined.

Below are highlights from each of the four constitutional scholars who spoke at the hearing.

Note: The first three scholars were Democrat requests; the last scholar is a Republican guest. The first three scholars said firmly and decisively that the president’s actions regarding Ukraine were impeachable; the last scholar said the process needed more time and evidence.

Noah Feldman

A Harvard Law professor specializing in constitutional studies. Feldman also advised Iraq on its interim constitution in 2003.

“On the basis of the testimony and evidence before the House, President Trump has committed impeachable high crimes and misdemeanors by corruptly abusing the office of the presidency,” he said. “Specifically, President Trump abused his office by corruptly soliciting President Volodymyr Zelensky to announce investigations of his political rivals in order to gain personal advantage, including in the 2020 presidential election.”

“Ultimately the reason the Constitution provided for impeachment was to anticipate a situation like the one that is before you today,” he said. “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.”

Michael Gerhardt

A UNC professor and the author of The Federal Impeachment Process: A Constitutional and Historical Analysis and Impeachment: What Everyone Needs to Know.

“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.”

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

He 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.”

Pamela Karlan

A constitutional law professor at Stanford who served as the deputy attorney general in the Civil Rights Division of the DOJ. Under Obama, Karlan was considered as a Supreme Court justice nominee.

“Based on the evidentiary record, 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.'”

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

Jonathan Turley

Jonathan Turley is a George Washington University professor called by the Republicans to testify.

Turley warned House Democrats against moving too fast on impeachment.

“Impeachment must be based on proof, not presumptions,” Turley observed. “I don’t see proof of a quid pro quo.” He argued that there is “a paucity of evidence and an abundance of anger” driving Democrats. He criticized them for rushing the process based on “wafer thin evidence”.

“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.”

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.”

NOTE: The problem with this argument is that, at its core, it’s a reflection of a lack of information, and that lack of information is a direct result of the President not complying with subpoenas.

Why doesn’t the President release text messages and email records, and allow witnesses to come forward, and therefore either provide the proof Turley believes is missing to support impeachment, or–if it does not–to allow half the country to understand how impeachment should not move forward?

Do you plan to talk to someone about the House impeachment hearings?
Do you plan to talk to someone about the House impeachment hearings?
Do you plan to talk to someone about the House impeachment hearings?

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