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Trio of legal scholars tell Congress Trump abused his power re Ukraine

TRUMP IMPEACHMENT | 04 de diciembre de 2019

Washington, Dec 4 (efe-epa).- Three prominent experts on constitutional law, called to testify by Democrats before Congress on Wednesday, told the House Judiciary Committee that President Donald Trump abused his power by asking Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son for possible corruption in that country.

"On the basis of the testimony and evidence before the House, President Trump has committed impeachable high crimes and misdemeanors by corruptly abusing the office of the presidency," Harvard University law professor Noah Feldman said.

"Soliciting a foreign government to investigate an electoral rival for personal gain on its own constitutes an impeachable high crime and misdemeanor under the Constitution," he added, going on to say that "The House heard further testimony that President Trump further abused his office by seeking to create incentives for Ukraine to investigate Vice President Biden."

"Both of these acts constitute high crimes and misdemeanors impeachable under the Constitution," he continued. "By freezing aid to Ukraine and by dangling the promise of a White House visit, the president was corruptly using the powers of the presidency for personal political gain."

On the other hand, the expert on the US Constitution called to testify by Republican lawmakers, Prof. Jonathan Turley of George Washington University, a CBS News legal analyst, said that removing Trump from office for this reason would create a "dangerous precedent" for future presidents.

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

The other legal experts participating in the hearing were Prof. Pamela Karlan of Stanford University and Prof. Michael Gerhardt, of the University of North Carolina, both of whom agreed with Feldman and emphasized that Trump committed impeachable offenses by asking a foreign government to interfere in the 2020 elections.

"Drawing a foreign government into our election process is an especially serious abuse of power because it undermines democracy itself," said Karlan.

"Because this is an abuse of power that cuts to the heart of democracy, you need to ask yourselves, if you don't impeach a president who has done what this president has done - or at least you don't investigate and then impeach, if you conclude that the House Select Committee on Intelligence's findings are correct - then what you're saying is, it's fine to go ahead and do this again," she said.

"If what we are talking about is not impeachable, nothing is impeachable," Gerhardt added.

The testimony provided by these four witnesses are part of the second phase of the House impeachment investigation to determine whether or not to impeach Trump, a move that is being vehemently opposed not only by the president and his executive branch defenders but also by most Republican lawmakers.

After two weeks of public hearings before the House Intelligence Committee, now it is the turn of the House Judiciary Committee to determine if the evidence is sufficient to show that Trump committed impeachable offenses.

Contenido relacionado

Giuliani contacts Ukraine ex-prosecutor on trip to Europe

New York, Dec 4 (efe-epa).- Rudolph Giuliani, President Donald Trump's personal attorney, met in Budapest this week with a former Ukrainian prosecutor, Yuriy Lutsenko, who has emerged as a key figure in the impeachment investigation of the US president, The New York Times reported on Wednesday.

Despite the fact that Democratic lawmakers are intensifying their scrutiny this week of Giuliani's role in the pressure campaign against the Ukrainian government that is at the center of their impeachment investigation, the former New York mayor has been in Europe continuing his efforts to refute the Democrats' accusations against Trump.

Giuliani was reported to have met with Lutsenko on Tuesday and on Wednesday Trump's attorney traveled to Kyiv to meet with other Ukrainian former prosecutors.

Also on Wednesday, three prominent experts in constitutional law called by Democratic lawmakers to testify in Congress told the House Judiciary Committee that Trump abused his office by asking Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter for alleged corruption in that country.

The former Ukrainian prosecutors, who have been accused of corruption themselves, are said to have played a role in the request for investigations into the Bidens' activities, as well as the firing of the former US ambassador to Ukraine and Ukrainians who provided information prejudicial information about Trump.

Those claims have been the basis for Trump and Giuliani's efforts to pressure the Ukrainian government to commit to launching investigations that would have benefited Trump and his 2020 re-election campaign.

The New York Times said that Giuliani's trip to Budapest and Kyiv suggests that he is not worried about the intense scrutiny he and his associates have received, including the revelations by the House Intelligence Committee on Tuesday of frequent telephone calls by Giuliani to the White House at key moments this year.

The European trip was organized around the filming of a television series with Giuliani that is being produced and broadcast by a conservative cable television channel.

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