Trump impeachment hearings updates: Judiciary panel takes over

New phase of Trump impeachment inquiry kicks off with first hearing of the House Judiciary Committee.

Investigation refresher

The inquiry centres on a call between Trump and Ukraine’s president in which Trump asks for a probe into the Bidens. Trump also wanted a probe into a conspiracy theory about the 2016 elections. At the time of the call, Trump was withholding $391m in military aid from Ukraine, and conditioned a White House meeting on the probes, according to witnesses.

US House Democrats entered a new phase of the impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump on Wednesday as the House Judiciary Committee took over and began hearings to debate and determine possible articles of impeachment.

Wednesday’s hearing, which features four legal scholars, comes after the release of a 300-page draft report from the House Intelligence Committee, which has been holding closed-door and public hearings over recent months, and gathering what it described as “overwhelming evidence” against the president.

The House Judiciary Committee now seeks to answer whether the evidence amounts to impeachment offences. If articles of impeachment are determined, the full House will vote on them. If passed, a trial would be held in the Senate.

Wednesday’s hearing begins a critical phase of the inquiry as Democrats continue to try to convince Americans, who according to the latest opinion poll, remain bitterly divided over whether Trump should be impeached.

As the new stage of the inquiry begins, here are all the latest updates as of Wednesday, November 4:

Pelosi to Democrats: ‘Are you ready?’

Speaker Nancy Pelosi posed a simple question to House Democrats behind closed doors Wednesday as the Judiciary Committee considered articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump.

“Are you ready?” she asked rank-and-file legislators.

The answer was a resounding yes.

The Democrats also gave a standing ovation to Chairman Adam Schiff, whose Intelligence Committee report cataloged potential grounds for impeachment, and they overwhelmingly indicated they want to continue to advance the inquiry on its current path.

The meeting was described to the Associated Press news agency by people familiar with it, who were unauthorized to discuss it by name and were granted anonymity.

Report: Giuliani meeting with Ukrainian officials in Europe

Even as Rudy Giuliani’s unofficial diplomacy in Ukraine faces increased scrutiny under the House impeachment inquiry into US President Donald Trump, he has recently met with former Ukrainian officials for a documentary series aimed at debunking the investigation, the New York Times reported on Wednesday.

On Tuesday, Giuliani, Trump’s personal lawyer, met in Budapest with former Ukrainian prosecutor Yuriy Lutsenko, who has loomed large over the impeachment inquiry, the newspaper reported. On Wednesday, Giuliani traveled to Kyiv to meet with Viktor Shokin and Kostiantyn Kulyk, two other former Ukrainian prosecutors whose claims have been touted by Republicans, according to the report.

“Like a good lawyer, I am gathering evidence to defend my client against the false charges being leveled against him” by the news media and Democrats, Giuliani told the New York Times when asked about the meetings.



White House spokeswoman criticises testifying legal scholars

White House spokeswoman Stephanie Grisham accused three legal scholars testifying in the House judiciary committee hearing as having “known biases” against President Donald Trump.

In a tweet, Grisham said that “3 of 4 ‘experts’ in this sham hearing known biases” against the president.

“Not only is @POTUS given no rights in this process, the Dems’ ‘witnesses’ made up their minds long before today,” she said.

Scholar Turley says he does not see proof of ‘quid pro quo’ in House intelligence report

Constitutional scholar Jonathan Turley, the only expert called by Republicans to testify before the House Judiciary Committee, said that the report by the House intelligence committee did not show proof of ‘quid pro quo’ (Latin for “a favour for a favour”).

Turley said the report has “left doubts” about what actually occured in president’s dealings with Ukraine. He noted his interpretation differed from the other legal scholars testifying on Wednesday.

“There’s a difference between requesting investigations and a quid pro quo,” said Turley. “You need to stick the landing on the quid pro quo.”

Scholar Turley refutes that Trump’s action was ‘clear case of bribery’

Constitutional scholar Jonathan Turley, the only expert called by Republicans to testify before the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday, said that it was not clear cut that President Donald Trump committed bribery.

Turley, a law professor at George Washington University, was refuting claims by other legal witnesses that Trump’s conduct in pressuring Ukraine to commit to politically motivated investigations, as detailed in other witness testimony, constituted bribery.

Turley also said that claims that Trump obstructed justice by not cooperating with the House investigation was also not clear cut, as the Trump administration was taking their objection to court.

“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,” Turley told legislators. “You are doing precisely what you’re criticising the president for doing.”

Scholarly witnesses called by Democrats say Trump committed bribery

The three legal scholars called to testify by Democrats in the House Judiciary Committee hearing as part of the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump have said that the President’s dealings with Ukraine constitute bribery.

“If what we’re talking about is not impeachable, then nothing is impeachable,” Michael Gerhardt, a professor of law at the University of North Carolina said during questioning by the Democratic counsel.

Trump campaign criticises testifying constitutional scholars

As the House Judiciary Committee began its first hearing in the impeachment inquiry into US President Donald Trump, the president’s reelection campaign tweeted photos of the testifying constitutional scholars.

In a series of tweets that coincided with the opening statements by the witnesses, the campaign referred in turn to Noah Feldman, Pamela Karlan, and Michael Gerhardt as “liberal professor” and accused them of holding Democratic allegiances.

Jonathan Turley, law professor at George Washington University called to testify by Republicans, was not featured in the tweets.

Constitutional scholar Turley: legal case for impeachment ‘dangerous’

Constitutional scholar Jonathan Turley, the only expert called by Republicans to testify before the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday, has said the current impeachment case laid out by democrats “is not just woefully inadequate, but in some respects, dangerous”.

“If the House proceeds solely 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,” Turley, a law professor at George Washington University, said in his prepared testimony.

“That does not bode well for future presidents who are working in a country often sharply and, at times, bitterly divided,” he said.

Constitutional scholar Gerhardt: Trump’s conduct worse than Nixon’s

Constitutional scholar Michael Gerhardt, testifying before the House Judiciary Committee, has said President Donald Trump’s actions are worse than President Richard Nixon’s.

“If left unchecked, the president will likely continue his pattern of soliciting foreign interference on his behalf in the next election,” Gerhardt said in his prepared opening statement.

“If Congress fails to impeach here, then the impeachment process has lost all meaning, and, along with that, our Constitution’s carefully crafted safeguards against the establishment of a king on American soil,” he said.

Constitutional scholar Karlan: Trump dealings ‘a cardinal reason why the Constitution contains an impeachment power’

Constitutional scholar Pamela Karlan, testifying before the House Judiciary Committee, has said President Donald Trump’s dealings with Ukraine exemplify “why the Constitution contains an impeachment power”.

Karlan, a professor of law at Stanford University, said Trump’s actions “struck at the very heart of what makes this country the ‘republic’ to which we pledge allegiance”.

“This is not politics as usual – at least not in the United States or any other mature democracy,” she said in her prepared testimony.

Constitutional scholar Feldman: Trump conduct ‘clearly constitutes impeachable high crimes and misdemeanors’

Constitutional scholar Noah Feldman, testifying before the House Judiciary Committee, has said President Donald Trump’s dealings with Ukraine “clearly constitutes impeachable high crimes and misdemeanors”.

“The president’s conduct described by the testimony embodies the [Constitution] framers’ concern that a sitting president would corruptly abuse the powers of office to distort the outcome of a presidential election in his favor,” Feldman, a professor of law at Harvard University, said in his prepared testimony on Wednesday.

Collins: Impeachment inquiry is ‘a simple railroad job’

The ranking Republican on the House Judiciary Committee, Representative Doug Collins, blasted the Democrat-lead impeachment inquiry as a partisan attack on the president.

“This is not an impeachment. This is a simple railroad job,” Collins said during his opening statement.

“You just don’t like the guy,” Collins said of the president, “You haven’t liked him since November 2016.”

Nadler: If Trump not held ‘in check’ he will ‘almost certainly’ solicit election interference again

Jerrold Nadler, the Democratic chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, has cast the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump as a race against time as the 2020 elections loom.

Nadler, giving his opening statement on Wednesday, said the facts showed that Trump sought foreign interference for his personal political gain and then obstructed the investigation.

“The President has shown us his pattern of conduct,” Nadler said. “If we do not act to hold him in check – now – President Trump will almost certainly try again to solicit interference in the election for his personal, political benefit.”

Nadler added that the House will “move swiftly” to charge the president if they determine he has committed an impeachable offense.

Refresher: What is impeachment?

The founders of the United States included impeachment in the US Constitution as an option for removal of presidents by Congress. Delegates to the constitutional convention of 1787 in Philadelphia agreed that presidents could be removed if found guilty by Congress of “treason, bribery or other high crimes and misdemeanors”.

The sole authority under the Constitution to bring articles of impeachment is vested in the House of Representatives where proceedings can begin in the Judiciary Committee. If the House approves articles of impeachment, or “impeaches” a president, he or she would then be subject to trial in the US Senate.

Trump: ‘I really don’t know’ why Giuliani called White House OMB

President Donald Trump has said he doesn’t know why his personal attorney Rudy Giuliani was speaking with the White House’s Office of Management and Budget, a revelation included in the House Intelligence Committee’s impeachment report.

“I really don’t know,” Trump said Wednesday,  while attending the NATO summit in England, when reporters asked about a detail included in the report released Tuesday.

Trump encouraged reporters to ask Giuliani about the calls, but claimed they are “no big deal”.

The 300-page House report includes phone records obtained from AT&T and Verizon, showing extensive contact between Giuliani and the White House. On April 24, Giuliani had three calls with a number associated with the Office of Management and Budget, and eight calls with a White House number.

Trump’s comments came shortly before the Judiciary Committee began their first hearing in the investigation.

Trump cancels NATO press conference

US President Donald Trump said he has canceled a news conference meant for the end of the NATO summit in the UK and will return to Washington early.

The news conference, which was scheduled for Wednesday, likely would have taken place while the House Judiciary Committee holds its first hearing in Washington into the impeachment inquiry against him.

Trump impeachment probe to enter new phase with landmark hearing

In a landmark hearing on Wednesday, four constitutional law scholars will discuss whether the case against Trump meets a political and legal test for impeachment.

The four constitutional scholars who are scheduled to testify are Noah Feldman of Harvard Law School, Pamela Karlan of Stanford Law School, Michael Gerhardt, of the University of North Carolina School of Law and Jonathan Turley at George Washington University Law School.

Tuesday, November 3

Impeachment inquiry: Giuliani, Nunes, WH in frequent contact

A new report from Democrats compiling evidence on impeachment has revealed extensive contact between Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, and California Representative Devin Nunes, the top Republican on the intelligence panel, bringing to light new allegations by Democrats about phone calls between Trump’s allies.

The report released on Tuesday includes phone records obtained from AT&T and Verizon that show Giuliani also was in frequent contact with the White House and with Lev Parnas, a Giuliani associate who is under indictment on charges of using foreign money to make illegal campaign contributions.

The records show that Parnas and Nunes were in frequent contact last April, when Giuliani was publicly calling for an investigation into Biden.

Evidence of Trump misconduct ‘overwhelming’: House report

Democrats accused Trump of abusing power to win re-election in 2020, saying in a report that will form the basis of any formal impeachment charges that he solicited foreign interference, undermined national security, and ordered an unprecedented campaign to obstruct Congress.

The Democratic-led House of Representatives Intelligence Committee, which has spearheaded the impeachment probe, said Trump had used US military aid and the prospect of a White House visit to compel his Ukrainian counterpart to “do his political bidding”.

SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies

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