Next phase in Trump impeachment inquiry begins
Professor Pamela Karlan, of Stanford University, said that when Trump asked Ukraine to do "us" a favor, he really meant a personal favor.
Rep. Hakeem Jeffries asked Karlan about the White House's transcript of the July 25 call between President Trump and Ukraine's leader.
"On the July 25 phone call the president uttered five words: 'Do us a favor, though.' He pressured the Ukrainian government to target an American citizen for political gain and simultaneously withheld $391 million in military aid," he said.
That's when Karlan brought up the use of the term "us."
"When the President said 'do us a favor,' he was using the royal we there. It wasn't a favor for the United States. He should have said do me a favor because only kings say 'us' when they mean 'me,'" she said.
Watch the moment here:
While Professor Jonathan Turley tapped into the mood of the country today, testifying that in part, the reason why the impeachment process was unmerited and dangerous was because “we are all mad,” Democratic members of the House Judiciary Committee flatly rejected his assumption.
Earlier today, Turley testified about the country's anger. Here's what he said:
“I get it. You are mad. The President’s mad. My Republican friends are mad. My Democratic friends are mad. My wife is mad. My kids are mad. Even my dog seems mad and Luna is a golden doodle and they don’t get mad. We are all mad and where has it taken us? Will a slipshod impeachment make us less mad? Will it only invite an invitation for the madness to follow in every future administration? That is why this is wrong.”
In a break during the hearing, CNN asked Democratic lawmakers Sheila Jackson Lee and Cedric Richmond to respond to Turley’s assertion.
In response to Turley’s testimony, Lee said it is not new that there is “anger in America.”
Lee continued: “What I would say is that Americans have been angry in times past. Wars make us angry. Very sensitive political issues make us angry. I do want to say that we are a unique country. We have faith and I do think that as the American people listen to the quiet presentation of the scholars that their faith will increase, that we will get through this, and that this is not going after anyone. It is really a task that is assigned to the United States House of Representatives and our faith, our faith will get us through.”
Richmond had suggested Turley could almost prove to be a helpful witness to Democrats because he went beyond recognizing the country’s anger.
“[Turley] did speak to the anger in the country, but he also said that the president’s call was less than perfect. He said that the asking for an investigation into Biden was highly inappropriate. And he said that if the facts of a quid pro quo are proven to be true, it is an impeachable offense. So I want to be sure that we understand what even the Republican witness is saying about the conduct of the president of the United States,” Richmond said.
Harvard Law professor Noah Feldman characterized President Trump's demand to the president of Ukraine an abuse of power because it involved withholding military aid to the country.
"It means it wasn't just an abuse of power, because the President was serving his own personal interests but also an abuse of power insofar as the President was putting American national security interests behind his own personal interests. It brought together two important aspects of the abuse of power, self-gain and undercutting our national security interests," Feldman said.
The question was asked by Rep. Cedric Richmond, a Democrat from Louisiana.
Rep. Ken Buck, a Republican from Colorado, asked professor Jonathan Turley about the nation's previous 44 presidents, and how their records stack up in impeachment standards.
Turley said he "can't exclude" many presidents when talking about possible impeachable offenses.
After bringing up a variety of allegations against former presidents, including John F. Kennedy, Abraham Lincoln and Barack Obama, Buck asked:
"Can you name a single president in the history of the United States — save President Harrison who died 32 days after his inauguration — that would not have met the standard of impeachment for our friends here?
"I would hope to god James Madison would escape. Otherwise, a lifetime of academic work would be shredded," Turley joked as many in the room laughed. Turley's academic writings include several about Madison.
"But once again I can't exclude many of these," he added.
Watch moment here:
Stanford Law School professor Pamela Karlan believes action is needed to "prevent foreign interference" in next year's election.
The question came from Rep. Hank Johnson, a Democrat from Georgia.
Here's what Karlan said:
"If you conclude, as I think the evidence to this point shows, that the President is soliciting foreign involvement in our election, you need to act now to prevent foreign interference in the next election like the one we had in the past," Karlan said.
Johnson followed up with a question regarding why the President's conduct was so "egregious it merits drastic remedy of impeachment."
"Because he invited the Russians, who are longtime adversaries, into the process the last time around. Because he has invited the Ukrainians into the process and because he suggested he would like the Chinese to come into the process as well," Karlan said.
Rep. Louie Gohmert criticized the evidence presented so far in the impeachment inquiry, calling it "a bunch of hearsay on hearsay."
"We need some factual witnesses," he added.
The witnesses testifying today are all constitutional law scholars providing expert testimony.
"We do not need to receive a report that we don't have a chance to read before this hearing. We need a chance to bring in actual fact witnesses," Gohmert said.
Gohmert concluded his questioning time without asking the witnesses a question.
Harvard Law School professor Noah Feldman did not mince words when asked today if there was still a need for impeachment considering President Trump ended up releasing military aid to Ukraine anyway.
The question was asked by Rep. Sheila Lee, a Democrat from Texas.
Here's what Feldman said:
"Impeachment is complete when the President abuses his office and he abuses his office by attempting to abuse his office. There is no distinction there between trying to do it and succeed in doing it. That's especially true if you only stop because you got caught."
Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee held up two thick binders — one containing special counsel Robert Mueller's report and the other holding the House Intelligence Committee's report — then asked Professor Pamela Karlan if she agreed with fellow witness Professor Jonathan Turley that the evidence presented is "wafer thin."
"So obviously it's not wafer thin, and the strength of the record is not just in the September ... the July 25 call. I think what you need to ask about this is, how does it fit in to the pattern of behavior by the President? Because what you're really doing is you're drawing inferences here. This is about circumstantial evidence as well as direct evidence. That is, you're trying to infer did the President ask for a political favor and this record supports of inference he did."
Stanford Law School's Pamela S. Karlan was just asked to compare the fears of the framers of the US Constitution to President Trump's behavior.
Framers were worried that a monarchy could prevail in the US, and wrote safeguards into the Constitution to protect democracy.
"So kings could do no wrong, because the king's word was law, and contrary to what President Trump has said, Article II does not give him the power to do anything he wants," she said.
Karlan added this example:
"The Constitution says there can be no titles of nobility. So while the President can name his son Barron, he can't make him a baron."
Watch the moment here: