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Read Jerry Nadler's opening statement in the evidentiary impeachment hearing

House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) set the stage with his opening statement in his committee's evidentiary hearing for the impeachment inquiry.

The big picture: Nadler relied heavily on the historical and constitutional basis for impeaching President Trump, alleging that the president "has broken his oath" to the American people regarding the Ukraine scandal and pledging, in turn, to fulfill his by hearing evidence behind impeachment.

Read Nadler's full opening statement:

"No matter his party or his politics, if the President places his own interests above those of the country, he betrays his oath of office.  
"The President of the United States, the Speaker of the House, the Majority Leader of the Senate, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, and the Chairman and the Ranking Member of the House Committee on the Judiciary all have one important thing in common:  we have each taken an oath to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution. 
"If the President puts himself before the country, he violates a President’s most basic responsibility.  He breaks his oath to the American people.
"If he puts himself before the country in a manner that threatens our democracy, then our oath—our promise to the American people—requires us to come to the defense of the nation.
"That oath stands even when it is politically inconvenient, even when it might bring us under criticism, even when it might cost us our jobs as members of Congress. 
"And even if the President is unwilling to honor his oath, I am compelled to honor mine.
"As we heard in our last hearing, the Framers of the Constitution were careful students of history and clear in their vision for our new nation. 
"They knew that threats to democracy can take many forms and that we must protect against them.
"They warned us against the dangers of would-be monarchs, fake populists, and charismatic demagogues.  They knew that the most dangerous threat to our country might come from within, in the form of a corrupt executive who put his private interests above the interests of the nation. 
"They also knew that they could not anticipate every threat a President might someday pose, so they adopted the phrase “treason, bribery, and other high Crimes and Misdemeanors” to capture the full spectrum of possible Presidential misconduct. 
"George Mason, who proposed this standard, said that it was meant to capture all manner of great and dangerous offenses against the Constitution.
"The debates around the Framing make clear that the most serious such offenses include abuse of power, betrayal of the nation through foreign entanglements, and corruption of public office.
"Any one of these violations of the public trust would compel the members of this Committee to take action. 
"When combined in a single course of conduct, they state the strongest possible case for impeachment and removal from office.
"President Trump put himself before country.
"Despite the political partisanship that seems to punctuate our hearings these days, I believe that there is common ground around some of these ideas—common ground in this hearing room, and common ground across the country at large.
"We agree, for example, that impeachment is a solemn, serious undertaking. 
"We agree that it is meant to address serious threats to democratic institutions like our free and fair elections.
"We agree that when the elections themselves are threatened by enemies foreign or domestic, we cannot wait until the next election to address the threat.
"We surely agree that no public official—including and especially the President of the United States—should use his public office for private gain.
"And we agree that no President may put himself before the country.  The Constitution and his oath of office—his promise to America’s citizens—require the President to put the country first.
"If we could drop our blinders for just one moment, I think we would agree on a common set of facts as well.
"On July 25, President Trump called President Zelensky of Ukraine and asked him for a favor.
"That call was part of a concerted effort by President Trump to compel the government of Ukraine to announce an investigation—not an investigation of corruption writ large, but an investigation of President Trump’s political rivals, and only his political rivals.
"President Trump put himself before country.
"The record shows that President Trump withheld military aid, allocated by the United States Congress, from Ukraine.  It also shows that he withheld a White House meeting from President Zelensky. 
"Multiple witnesses—including respected diplomats, national security professionals, and decorated war veterans—all testified to the same basic fact:  President Trump withheld the aid and the meeting in order to pressure a foreign government to do him that favor. 
"President Trump put himself before country.
"And when the President got caught—when Congress discovered that the aid had been withheld from Ukraine—the President took extraordinary and unprecedented steps to conceal evidence from Congress and from the American people.
"These facts are not in dispute.  In fact, most of the arguments about these facts appear to be beside the point.
"As we review the evidence today, I expect we will hear much about the whistleblower who brought his concerns about the July 25 call to the Inspector General of the Intelligence Community.
"Let me be clear: every fact alleged by the whistleblower has been substantiated by multiple witnesses, again and again, each of whom has been questioned extensively by Democrats and Republicans alike.  The allegations also match up with the President’s own words, as released by the White House—words that he still says were perfect.
"I also expect to hear complaints about the term quid pro quo—as if a person needs to verbally acknowledge the name of a crime while he is committing it for it to be a crime at all.
"The record on this point is also clear:  multiple officials testified that the President’s demand for an investigation into his rivals was a part of his personal, political agenda, and not related to the foreign policy objectives of the United States. 
"Multiple officials testified that the President intended to withhold the aid until Ukraine announced the investigations. 
"And, yes, multiple officials testified that they understood this arrangement to be a quid pro quo for the President’s personal, political benefit.
"President Trump put himself before country.
"The President’s supporters are going to argue that this whole process is unfair. 
"The record before us is clear on this point as well: we invited the President to participate in this hearing, to question witnesses, and to present evidence that might explain the charges against him.  President Trump chose not to show. 
"He may not have much to say in his own defense, but he cannot claim that he did not have an opportunity to be heard.
"Finally, as we proceed today, we will hear a great deal about the speed with which the House is addressing the President’s actions.
"To the members of this Committee, to the members of the House, and to my fellow citizens, I want to be absolutely clear: the integrity of our next election is at stake. Nothing could be more urgent.
"The President welcomed foreign interference in our elections in 2016.  He demanded it for 2020.  Then he got caught. 
"If you do not believe that he will do it again, let me remind you that the President’s personal lawyer spent last week back in Ukraine, meeting with government officials in an apparent attempt to gin up the same so-called “favors” that brought us here today and forced Congress to consider the impeachment of a sitting President.
"This pattern of conduct represents a continuing risk to the country.
"The evidence shows that Donald J. Trump, the President of the United States, has put himself before his country. 
"He has violated his most basic responsibilities to the people.  He has broken his oath.  I will honor mine.  If you would honor yours, then I urge you to your duty. 
"Let us review the record here, in full view of the American people, and then let us move swiftly to defend our country.  We promised that we would."

Go deeper: Live updates from today's evidentiary impeachment hearing