- The House Judiciary Committee launched its first public hearing in the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump this week.
- The hearing featured several legal scholars who will testify about “the constitutional grounds for presidential impeachment.”
- It started at 10 a.m. ET. Scroll down to read more about everything we know so far and to watch the hearing.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
At the outset of the investigation in September, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi designated Rep. Adam Schiff, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, to lead the inquiry, which at that point was focused on the contents of a whistleblower complaint about a July 25 phone call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
The complaint detailed concerns that Trump, days after withholding a nearly $US400 million military-aid package previously appropriated by Congress, used the call with Zelensky to pressure the Ukrainian government to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter, as well as a discredited conspiracy theory that Ukraine interfered in the 2016 election.
Hunter Biden served on the board of Burisma Holdings, a Ukrainian oil and gas company, from 2014 to 2019. Trump and his allies have, without evidence, accused Joe Biden of using his power as vice president to urge Ukraine to fire a prosecutor who was investigating Burisma in order to protect Hunter Biden.
The intelligence committee held a number of public and private hearings last month with more than a dozen fact witnesses, all of whom were career nonpartisan national-security and foreign-service officers. Their testimony painted a damning picture of Trump’s monthslong effort to force Ukraine into acceding to his political demands while freezing vital military assistance.
The July phone call was just one data point in that pressure campaign, which was spearheaded by former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who is now Trump’s personal lawyer.
On Tuesday, the intelligence committee publicly released a report with several key findings from those impeachment hearings.
First, the committee found that the president engaged in “misconduct” by leveraging US foreign policy in exchange for information that would personally benefit him. Second, it found that Trump obstructed Congress’ impeachment inquiry by directing witnesses not to comply with subpoenas for testimony.
Legal experts told Insider that Trump could be impeached on a number of charges based on his actions, including violating campaign-finance laws, bribery, extortion, obstruction, and misappropriation of taxpayer funds.
The intelligence panel handed off the investigation off to the judiciary committee, which is in charge of drafting articles of impeachment. If the articles pass out of the committee by a simple majority vote, they go to the floor for the entire House for a final vote.
Wednesday’s hearing did not feature fact witnesses like the intelligence committee’s hearings did. Instead, lawmakers and witnesses used the hearing to lay out the case for and against impeachment, and the panel of four constitutional law experts testified on “the constitutional grounds for presidential impeachment,” according to a release from the judiciary committee.
Noah Feldman of Harvard Law School, Pamela Karlan of Stanford Law School, Michael Gerhardt of the University of North Carolina School of Law, and Jonathan Turley of George Washington University Law School will all appear before the committee to discuss the constitutional implications and background for impeachment.
The hearing started at 10 a.m. ET and was broadcast on all the major cable news networks. You can watch it below:
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