Constitutional scholar angrily slams Trump’s ‘abuse of power’ in Ukraine scheme as impeachment hits explosive new phase

by Editorial Team

A Constitutional scholar angrily told Congress Wednesday that President Trump’s alleged misdeeds in the Ukraine scandal are clearly impeachable offences as the political drama moved to a new and explosive phase.

Stanford Law Professor Pamela Karlan stole the show when she passionately compared Trump’s infamous July 25 phone call to Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky to a president withholding emergency aid to a flood-ravaged state until a governor declared his political opponent “a criminal.”

“Wouldn’t you know in your gut that such a president had abused his office?” Karlan said, waving her hands for emphasis. “That he betrayed the national interest and that he was trying to corrupt the electoral process?”

She angrily went off script to attack Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.) to his face for suggesting that the professors didn’t know what Trump actually did.

“I’m insulted by the suggestion that as a law professor I don’t care about those facts,” said Karlan, who said she read every word of the transcripts from last month’s intelligence committee hearing.

Three law professors invited by Democrats told the Judiciary Committee that Trump should be removed from office for his scheme to use American aid to pressure Ukraine to open bogus investigations into his political rivals. One invited by Republicans countered that the evidence is not substantial enough to warrant impeachment.

Noah Feldman, a Harvard professor, said Trump committed the “high crimes and misdemeanors” mentioned in the Constitution by improperly seeking to use his powers to get Ukraine to assist his reelection.

“He abused his office,” said Feldman, who was forced to talk over the interruptions of angry Republican objections. “The abuse of office occurs when the president uses the awesome power of his office, not to serve the interests of the American public, but to serve his personal, individual, partisan, electoral interests.”

Michael Gerhardt of the University of North Carolina argued: “If Congress fails to impeach here, then the impeachment process has lost all meaning.”

Jonathan Turley, a law professor at George Washington University, responded that the Democrats are bringing a “slipshod impeachment” case against the president based on secondhand information and without waiting to hear from all the relevant witnesses.

Significantly, even Turley didn’t excuse the president’s behavior, which he suggested should be addressed at the ballot box next November.

“A case for impeachment could be made, but it cannot be made on this record,” said Turley, who did not address the fact that Trump prevented many witnesses from testifying.

Turley advised Americans to stop being so mad about Trump, noting that even his pet Golden Labradoodle dog seems upset about the president.

The session delved into academic assessments of possible impeachable offenses. But the real focus will be on the fractious 41-member panel, which is led by Rep. Jerry Nadler (R-Manhattan) and includes some of the most outspoken GOP lawmakers.

Nadler repeatedly gaveled Republicans into silence, and GOP lawmakers countered by repeatedly disrupting the hearings with time-consuming procedural motions.

“The facts before us are clear. President Trump did not merely seek to benefit from foreign interference in our elections, he directly and explicitly invited foreign interference in our elections,” Nadler said in an opening statement. “He used the powers of his office to try to make it happen.”

Collins made little effort to argue the facts. Instead, he derided the hearing as a rubber stamp by Trump-hating Democrats.

“This is not an impeachment. It’s a simple railroad job,” Collins said.

The political risks are high for all parties as the House presses only the fourth presidential impeachment inquiry in U.S. history.

Trump, who was jetting home from a NATO meeting in London, called the impeachment effort by Democrats “unpatriotic” and said he wouldn’t bother watching Wednesday’s hearing.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Democrats “haven’t made a decision” yet on whether there will be a vote on articles of impeachment. She also met behind closed doors with the Democratic caucus, where moderate Rep. Dean Phillips (D-Minn.) said there was “unanimity” about pushing ahead.

A vote by Christmas appears increasingly likely with the release of a 300-page report by Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee that found “serious misconduct” by the president. If that happens, there would be an impeachment trial in the GOP-controlled Senate, with a two-thirds vote needed to remove Trump from office.

Karlan warned that if Congress lets Trump off the hook, the American people can expect him to again use his powers to smear Democrat Joe Biden and others in new efforts to help himself get reelected.

“We’ve already seen a little bit of it,” the animated professor said. “He gets out on the White House lawn and says, ‘China, I think you should investigate Joe Biden.’”


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