Yesterday's House Judiciary impeachment hearing on the legal ramifications of impeachment was a national civics seminar, and a necessary one.
Three legal experts told U.S. lawmakers on Wednesday that President Donald Trump’s efforts to pressure Ukraine to investigate a political rival amounted to impeachable offenses, in a hearing that laid the groundwork for formal charges to be filed against the president.
Democrats on the House of Representatives Judiciary Committee said they may look beyond Trump’s relations with Ukraine as they draw up articles of impeachment, to include his earlier efforts to impede former Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of his campaign’s relations with Russia
“The president’s alleged offenses represent a direct threat to the constitutional order,” Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler said.
The impeachment inquiry, launched in September, focuses on Trump’s request that Ukraine conduct investigations that could harm political rival Joe Biden, a leading contender for the Democratic 2020 presidential nomination.
The hearing on Wednesday was the committee’s first to examine whether Trump’s actions qualify as “high crimes and misdemeanors” punishable by impeachment under the U.S. Constitution.
Three law professors chosen by the Democrats made clear during the lengthy session that they believed Trump’s actions constituted impeachable offenses.
“If what we’re talking about is not impeachable, then nothing is impeachable,” said University of North Carolina law professor Michael Gerhardt.
Which is literally the point the GOP is trying to make. Nothing is impeachable when Trump is concerned. Nancy Pelosi is moving ahead anyway.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., announced on Thursday she is asking the House Judiciary Committee to proceed with drafting articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump, saying "the president leaves us no choice but to act."
“Sadly, but with confidence and humility, with allegiance to our founders and our heart full of love for America, today, I am asking our chairmen to proceed with articles of impeachment,” Pelosi said in a brief televised statement from the Capitol, speaking directly to the American people.
The facts of Trump's alleged wrongdoing involving Ukraine, she said, "are uncontested.”
"The president abused his power for his own personal, political benefit at the expense of our national security by withholding military aid and crucial Oval Office meeting in exchange for an announcement of an investigation into his political rival,” Pelosi said, adding that his actions "seriously violated the Constitution."
"Our democracy is what's at stake," Pelosi continued. "The president leaves us no choice but to act because he is trying to corrupt, once again, the election for his own benefit."
So, what's next? The evidence gets laid out Monday by the House Judiciary.
House impeachment investigators will present evidence against President Donald Trump to the Judiciary Committee on Monday, a key step before Democrats finalize articles of impeachment.
The Judiciary Committee’s Thursday announcement of its next hearing comes after Speaker Nancy Pelosi directed the panel and other investigators to draft articles of impeachment, a historic milestone that suggests the House could vote to impeach Trump before the end of the year.
It also comes a day after the Judiciary Committee held its first impeachment hearing, in which constitutional law scholars argued Trump’s dealings with Ukraine meet the definition of “high crimes and misdemeanors” as laid out in the Constitution.
Democrats previewed three potential articles of impeachment at Wednesday’s hearing: abuse of power, obstruction of Congress and obstruction of justice.
The impeachment inquiry centers on Trump’s efforts to pressure Ukraine’s leaders to investigate his political rivals, with Democrats arguing that Trump has obstructed their probe by refusing to provide documents and blocking important witnesses. Democrats say the evidence they have compiled shows Trump used military aid to Ukraine and a White House meeting with the country’s president as leverage.
A House Judiciary Committee vote on articles of impeachment could come as soon as the end of next week, bringing a vote before the full House on the following week.
We're about to enter history here, folks.