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Law Professors Testify On Constitutional Grounds For Impeachment


On Capitol Hill today, part history seminar...


NOAH FELDMAN: Let me begin now with the question of why the framers provided for impeachment in the first place.

KELLY: ...And part claws-out partisan fight.


GUY RESCHENTHALER: Mr. Chairman, can you please also iterate the schedule going forward? In other words...

JERRY NADLER: That is not upheld.

RESCHENTHALER: Do you plan to hold additional hearings, and if so, when do you...

NADLER: The gentleman will suspend.

KELLY: The impeachment inquiry in Congress has officially moved into a new phase - the House Judiciary Committee is now weighing whether to draft articles of impeachment against President Trump.


Today's witnesses - four law professors. Three of them appeared at the invitation of Democrats. They testify that, yes, President Trump's attempts to pressure Ukraine into announcing investigations that would benefit him personally warrant impeachment. Here are Noah Feldman of Harvard, Stanford's Pam Karlan and Michael Gerhardt from the University of North Carolina.


FELDMAN: The abuse of office occurs when the president uses a feature of his power, the awesome power of his office, not to serve the interests of the American public, but to serve his personal, individual, partisan electoral interests.

PAMELA KARLAN: Drawing a foreign government into our elections is an especially serious abuse of power because it undermines democracy itself. Our constitution begins with the words, we the people, for a reason.

MICHAEL GERHARDT: If what we're talking about is not impeachable, then nothing is impeachable.

KELLY: The dissenting voice was Jonathan Turley from George Washington University. He was the Republican's sole witness today. His argument is that Democrats have rushed the process and presented no compelling evidence of the commission of a crime, no proof of a quid pro quo.


JONATHAN TURLEY: That is why this is wrong. It's not wrong because President Trump is right. His call was anything but perfect. It's not wrong because the House has no legitimate reason to investigate Ukrainian controversy. It's not wrong because we're in an election year. There is no good time for an impeachment. No, it's wrong because this is not how you impeach an American president.

CORNISH: Elsewhere in the Capitol this morning, an endorsement of how this process has unfolded. In a closed-door meeting, House Democrats gave Adam Schiff, chair of the House Intelligence Committee, a standing ovation. And Speaker Nancy Pelosi made clear her plan is to move swiftly, rallying Democrats with the words, are you ready? Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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