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

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

At the heart of the 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.●House Democrats release a report charging that Trump abused his office as impeachment inquiry enters new phase.●Phone call records show frequent contact between Trump personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani and White House.December 4, 2019 at 5:55 PM ESTKarlan apologizes for remark mentioning Barron TrumpPamela Karlan, the Stanford law professor who attracted GOP criticism for mentioning the name of Trump’s young son Barron during her testimony, made an apology late in the hearing.Under questioning from Rep. Greg Stanton (D-Ariz.), Karlan paused to respond to the uproar led by the White House, the Trump campaign and first lady Melania Trump.“If I can just say one thing, I want to apologize for what I said earlier about the president’s son,” she said. “It was wrong of me to do that. I wish the president would apologize, obviously, for the things that he’s done that are wrong. But I do regret having said that.”The hearing continued without further commentary on the matter.By Mike DeBonisDecember 4, 2019 at 5:00 PM ESTHands up if you voted for TrumpSeveral GOP members have accused the constitutional law experts picked by Democrats of being too biased to be credible impeachment witnesses. Rep. Tom McClintock (R-Calif.) took that criticism even further when he requested that the witnesses raise their hands if they voted against Trump in 2016.“I don’t think we’re obligated to say anything,” Karlan interjected heatedly.Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) interjected to say that while McClintock had a right to ask the question, the witnesses did not need to answer it. So McClintock rephrased: “How many of you supported Donald Trump in 2016?”Harvard Law School professor Noah Feldman responded: “Not raising our hands is not an answer, sir.”Of the four witnesses, only one — George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley, the legal witness called by the GOP — volunteered how he voted in the last presidential election. He said at the outset that he had not voted for Trump – and yet Republicans deferred to his testimony opposing impeachment repeatedly.Turley insisted that he was not testifying that the evidence against Trump would not ultimately be a convincing case for impeachment, just that Democrats had “burned two months…two months that you could have been in court” to determine whether the president’s actions were simply “obnoxious” or “impeachable.”By Karoun DemirjianDecember 4, 2019 at 4:50 PM ESTFirst lady says Karlan should be ‘ashamed’ after joke about her son First lady Melania Trump scolded Pamela Karlan, of Stanford University law school, for making a joke that invoked her son, Barron.“A minor child deserves privacy and should be kept out of politics. Pamela Karlan, you should be ashamed of your very angry and obviously biased public pandering, and using a child to do it,” Trump tweeted.Earlier in the hearing, Karlan, making a point about President Trump not being king, said, “While the president can name his son Barron, he can’t make him a baron.”By Colby ItkowitzDecember 4, 2019 at 4:30 PM ESTHearing resumesJudiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) gaveled the hearing back into session.By Felicia SonmezDecember 4, 2019 at 4:15 PM ESTHearing in recessNadler announced a brief recess, with dozens of lawmakers still expected to question the witnesses once the proceedings resume.By Felicia SonmezDecember 4, 2019 at 4:10 PM ESTGaetz attacks impeachment witnesses for donating to DemocratsRep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), one of Trump’s most aggressive attack dogs on Capitol Hill, used his time to go after the three constitutional experts who testified that Trump had committed “high crimes and misdemeanors,” the threshold for impeachment.He asked professor Michael Gerhardt, of the University of Northy Carolina, to confirm that he donated to President Barack Obama and Karlan to confirm that she gave to Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Hillary Clinton. Then he turned his fire on Harvard Law School professor Noah Feldman for writing that Trump could be impeached for a series of tweets.But Gaetz reserved most of his scorn for Karlan, pulling up an old quote in which she suggested “liberals tend to cluster more; conservatives, especially very conservative people, tend to spread out more, perhaps because they don’t even want to be around themselves.”“Do you understand how that reflects contempt on people who are conservative?” Gaetz asked, seeking to discredit Karlan as partisan.When Karlan tried to respond, Gaetz stopped her and continued to chide her for her earlier joke about how Trump named his son “Barron” but couldn’t bestow the title “baron” because he is not a king.“When you invoke the president’s son’s name here, when you try to make a little joke out of referencing Barron Trump … it makes you look mean,” Gaetz said. “It makes you look like you’re attacking someone’s family — the minor child of the president.”By Rachael BadeDecember 4, 2019 at 4:00 PM ESTGOP congressman suggests subpoena of Schiff, Biden phone recordsRep. Jim Banks (R-Ind.) wrote a letter to Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) Wednesday urging him to subpoena the phone records of several individuals related to the impeachment inquiry.Banks wants Graham to seek the call records of House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.), former vice president Joe Biden and his son Hunter, and lawyer Mark Zaid, who is representing the intelligence agency whistleblower.Banks, who is in his second term in Congress, noted that Schiff had obtained call records of conversations between Giuliani and the top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), among others.“The public has a right to know with whom Rep. Adam Schiff has coordinated his impeachment effort and if America’s national security is at risk in any way as a result of Rep. Schiff’s actions,” Banks wrote.Banks went on to argue that the impeachment process is a risk to national security because it has diverted lawmakers’ attention away from funding the government, putting federal programs at risk of another shutdown.In response to Banks’s letter to Graham, Zaid tweeted that many of his phone records “would be protected by attorney-client privilege,” but that he could disclose his “direct contact with a specific Member of Congress, as well as his senior staff — Devin Nunes.”By Colby ItkowitzDecember 4, 2019 at 3:45 PM ESTGOP Rep. Buck suggests Democrats’ impeachment standard would have put FDR, Kennedy, Obama at riskRep. 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.“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 Buck 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 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.“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.”By Mike DeBonisDecember 4, 2019 at 3:30 PM ESTWhite House official suggests Trump preparing to wage aggressive effort in Senate trialA 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 the videotaped depositions of witnesses that were ultimately entered into evidence during former president Bill Clinton’s Senate impeachment trial in 1999.“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 KaneDecember 4, 2019 at 2:50 PM EST‘While the president can name his son Barron, he can’t make him a baron,’ Karlan saysKarlan sought to distinguish a president from a king after Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Tex.) 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 United States.“While the president can name his son Barron, he can’t make him a baron,” she said.“Classless move by a Democratic ‘witness,’ ” Grisham wrote. “Prof Karlan uses a teenage boy who has nothing to do with this joke of a hearing (and deserves privacy) as a punchline. And what’s worse, it’s met by laughter in the hearing room. What is being done to this country is no laughing matter.”Trump’s presidential campaign also issued a statement criticizing the comment and calling on Karlan to apologize.“Only in the minds of crazed liberals is it funny to drag a 13-year-old child into the impeachment nonsense. Pamela Karlan thought she was being clever and going for laughs, but she instead reinforced for all Americans that Democrats have no boundaries when it comes to their hatred of everything related to President Trump,” Trump campaign spokeswoman Kayleigh McEnany said.By Rachael BadeDecember 4, 2019 at 2:30 PM ESTSenate 2020 calendar leaves out January due to uncertainty over impeachment trialThe 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 ItkowitzDecember 4, 2019 at 2:45 PM ESTJudiciary hearing resumesNadler gaveled the hearing back into session following House votes, with members of both parties expected to resume questioning the witnesses.By Felicia SonmezDecember 4, 2019 at 2:25 PM ESTKatyal accuses Republicans of misrepresenting his writing on BidenNeal 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.By Felicia SonmezDecember 4, 2019 at 1:45 PM ESTIn announcing retirement, Rep. Heck says he is ‘discouraged’ by Republicans on impeachmentRep. Denny 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 SonmezDecember 4, 2019 at 1:30 PM ESTHearing in recessNadler announced a recess in the hearing so that panel members could take part in votes scheduled on the House floor.By John WagnerDecember 4, 2019 at 1:25 PM ESTProfessors at odds on whether courts must weigh inLegal 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 DemirjianDecember 4, 2019 at 1:15 PM ESTNadler notes absence of lawyer for TrumpAfter 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 WagnerDecember 4, 2019 at 1:05 PM EST‘If you rush this impeachment, you’re going to leave half the country behind,’ Turley saysGeorge 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 BadeDecember 4, 2019 at 12:50 PM ESTTurley says impeaching Trump for going to the courts is a congressional abuse of powerIn the opening minutes of Republican questioning, Rep. Douglas A. Collins (Ga.,) the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee, 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),
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