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

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