Updated Dec 4, 2019

Legal scholars called by Democrats say Trump has committed impeachable offenses

The three constitutional scholars that Democrats called to testify in the House Judiciary Committee's first impeachment hearing on Wednesday were "unanimous" in their assessments that President Trump committed impeachable offenses in his dealings with Ukraine.

The big picture: The three Democratic witnesses said that based on the evidence in the House Intelligence Committee's report, President Trump abused his power to solicit foreign election interference for his own political gain. The Republican witness, who was not questioned by the Democratic counsel, criticized the rushed nature of the current impeachment inquiry in his opening statement as "dangerous."

What they're saying:

  • UNC-Chapel Hill law professor Michael Gerhardt: "The president’s serious misconduct, including bribery, soliciting a personal favor from a foreign leader in exchange for his exercise of power, and obstructing justice and Congress are worse than the misconduct of any prior president."
  • Harvard law professor Noah Feldman: "President Trump has committed impeachable high crimes and misdemeanors by corruptly abusing the office of the presidency."
  • Stanford law school professor Pamela S. Karlan: "Everything I know about our Constitution and its values, and my review of the evidentiary record, tells me that when President Trump invited—indeed, demanded—foreign involvement in our upcoming election, he struck at the very heart of what makes this country the “republic” to which we pledge allegiance. That demand constituted an abuse of power."
  • George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley: "[O]ne can oppose President Trump’s policies or actions but still conclude that the current legal case for impeachment is not just woefully inadequate, but in some respects, dangerous, as the basis for the impeachment of an American president. To put it simply, I hold no brief for President Trump. My personal and political views of President Trump, however, are irrelevant to my impeachment testimony, as they should be to your impeachment vote. Today, my only concern is the integrity and coherence of the constitutional standard and process of impeachment."

Read the Democratic witnesses' opening statements.

Read the Republican witness' opening statement.

Go deeper: What to expect from the next phase of impeachment

Go deeper

RNC expands convention search across the Sun Belt

President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence on stage at the conclusion of the final day of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, on July 21, 2016. Photo: Mark Reinstein/Corbis via Getty Images

The Republican National Committee is planning site visits over the next 10 days to more than a half-dozen cities — across the South and into Texas and Arizona — as it scrambles for a new convention host, people familiar with the internal discussions tell Axios.

Driving the news: The RNC's executive committee voted Wednesday night to allow most of the convention to move — with only a smaller, official portion remaining in Charlotte — after North Carolina's governor said the coronavirus pandemic would mean a scaled-back event with social distancing and face coverings.

Oil faces tough road back from coronavirus

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Oil companies in the battered shale patch are starting to bring back some production as prices climb, but a new report underscores how the pandemic is taking a heavy financial toll despite signs of revival.

Driving the news: Fourteen North American producers have filed for bankruptcy thus far during the second quarter, per a tally from the law firm Haynes and Boone, which closely tracks the sector's finances.

2 hours ago - World

Hong Kong legislature bans insults to Chinese national anthem

Activists holding a candlelit remembrance outside Victoria Park in Hong Kong on June 4, 2020, to mark the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown. Photo: Anthony Wallace/AFP via Getty Images

Hong Kong’s legislature approved a bill Thursday that makes insulting the "March of the Volunteers," the Chinese national anthem, illegal, AP reports.

Why it matters: It did so on the 31st anniversary of the Tiananmen Square protests, when Chinese troops opened fire on pro-democracy activists in 1989. The death toll has never been released, but estimates vary between hundreds and thousands.