Donald Trump 'committed impeachable offences,' constitutional scholars tell Congress

Donald Trump 'committed impeachable offences,' constitutional scholars tell Congress

Donald Trump 'committed impeachable offences,' constitutional scholars tell Congress

"If the House proceeds exclusively 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", said the George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley, a witness called by Republicans.

The House judiciary committee on Wednesday will step into the impeachment proceedings involving President Donald Trump, staging its first public hearing in the matter.

Ahead of a US House panel vote on a report of its findings based on recent hearings in an impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump, its Republican members issued a 110-page prebuttal Monday clearing the president of any wrongdoing in his dealings with Ukraine.

In the first instance, it alleged, the president conditioned military aid and a face-to-face meeting with President Volodymyr Zelensky on Kiev opening several politically-motivated investigations, including into former vice president Joe Biden, the Democratic frontrunner in the 2020 election race.

"This report reflects nothing more than their frustrations", said White House spokeswoman Stephanie Grisham. They derided the pro-impeachment witnesses as "three stooges" who are helping Democrats perpetuate "more of the same old sham!"

The report also accuses Mr Trump of obstruction, becoming the "first and only" president in United States history to "openly and indiscriminately" defy the house's constitutional authority to conduct the impeachment proceedings by instructing officials not to comply with subpoenas for documents and testimony. It summarizes a series of impeachment process hearings that were conducted last month.

Speaking from London, where he is attending a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation summit, Mr Trump called the Democratic effort "very unpatriotic".

Trump again stated on December 3 that the impeachment inquiry is "a hoax" and Zelensky again refuted claims made about his interactions with Trump, telling reporters over the weekend: "I never talked to the president from the position of a quid pro quo".

Any trial would be held in the Senate, where support for Trump has remained solid with the Republican majority.

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One new element in the Intelligence Committee report released in draft form on Tuesday is telephone records obtained under subpoena from AT&T and Verizon, US telecommunications providers. "To the extent that President Trump's conduct fits these categories, there is precedent for recommending impeachment here".

The 300-page impeachment report released Tuesday was built largely on previously known public testimony and public statements, like acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney's stunning admonition that the public "get over it" with regard to Trump asking the newly elected Ukrainian president to investigate the Biden family.

That panel, under chairman Jerrold Nadler of NY, will begin formal impeachment hearings on Wednesday with the task of actually deciding whether to bring any articles against Trump to the House floor for a vote.

They have anxious that broadening the impeachment to other issues may play into Trump's argument that the Democrat-led effort is merely a coup attempt. Trump at the time was withholding $400 million in military aid from the ally, which faced an aggressive Russian Federation on its border.

The White House was invited to participate in the hearing, but on Sunday declared that they would not send any administration officials to attend.

Asked about that, Trump told reporters he doesn't know why Giuliani was calling the White House Office of Management and Budget, which was withholding $400 million in military aid to Ukraine.

Under the U.S. Constitution, a president may be impeached and removed from office for "treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors". "This is just a simple railroad job and today's is a waste of time", Collins said.

Schiff also said the committee was investigating whether Trump's pressure on Ukraine goes back further than initially understood.

Democrats once hoped to sway Republicans to consider Trump's removal, but they are now facing an ever-hardening partisan split over the swift-moving proceedings that are dividing Congress and the country.

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