Trump committed impeachable offences: Legal experts

Washington [US], Dec 05 (ANI): During the much anticipated House Judiciary hearing in a matter pertaining to the impeachment of President Donald Trump, three out of four constitutional scholars told a key committee that the president committed impeachable offences by pressuring Ukraine to take action against his political rivals.

However, the fourth legal expert demurred and said that the Democrats are moving too fast, reported Al Jazeera.

"On the basis of the testimony and the evidence presented to the House, President Trump has committed impeachable high crimes and misdemeanours by abusing the office of the presidency," Noah Feldman, a law professor at Harvard Law School, told the House Judiciary Committee.

"Specifically, President Trump has abused his office by corruptly soliciting President Volodymyr Zelenskyy of Ukraine to announce investigations of his political rivals to gain personal advantage including in the 2020 presidential election," Feldman said.

While the hearing was underway, Trump in London abruptly cancelled a planned news conference at the NATO leadership conference.

The chairman of the judiciary committee, Jerrold Nadler, has expressed displeasure on the matter and said that it is the first time in the history of the US that a president "appears to have solicited personal political favours from a foreign government".

"When we apply the Constitution to those facts, if it is true that Trump has committed an impeachable offence or multiple, repeated impeachable offences then we must move swiftly to do our duty and move forward to charge him accordingly," Nadler said.

The Democrats initiated the investigation when a whistleblower revealed that Trump during a July 25 telephone call with the Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy asked for 'a favour' and wanted him to open an investigation against the former vice president and Democrats presidential candidate and son Hunter.

According to the information, Trump administration was withholding USD 391 million in congressionally mandated military and financial aid from Ukraine.

After hearing from 12 witnesses in 35 hours of the public testimony, Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee issued a report on Tuesday alleging that Trump abused the power of his office by pressuring Ukraine.

"The evidence reveals a president who used the powers of his office to demand that a foreign government participate in undermining a competing candidate for the presidency," Pamela Karlan, a law professor at Stanford University Law School, told Wednesday's House Judiciary panel hearing.

"It shows a president who delayed meeting a foreign leader and providing assistance that Congress and his own advisors agreed...," Karlan said.

Doug Collins, the top Republican on Judiciary Committee, lamented the panel's process saying Democrats were moving to impeach Trump for political reasons.

"We are here, no fact witnesses, simply a rubber stamp," Collins said.

Jonathan Turley, a constitutional law professor at George Washington University Law School, supported the Republican view in his testimony.

While Trump's telephone call with Zelenskyy "was anything but perfect", Turley said the Democrats' investigation so far had produced a "wafer-thin" body of evidence and their process was "slipshod".

"This is not how you impeach an American president," Turley said.

Michael Gerhardt, a law professor at the University of North Carolina compared the context and gravity of Trump's conduct to the impeachment of President Richard Nixon in 1973.

"The fact that we can easily transfer the Articles of Impeachment against President Nixon to the actions of this president speaks volumes. And that does not even include the most serious national security concerns and election interference on the part of this president," Gerhardt said.

"I cannot help but conclude that this president has attacked each of the Constitution's safeguards against establishing a monarchy in this country," he said. (ANI)