What is bribery? Trump impeachment hearing highlights Democrats’ dilemma

Reuters Politics 5 days ago

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - What is bribery? The question was robustly debated by legal experts on Wednesday during a congressional hearing in the impeachment inquiry of U.S. President Donald Trump.

The back-and-forth highlights a dilemma faced by Democrats seeking to remove Republican Trump from office - whether to make “bribery” one of the formal charges or to use broader wording such as “abuse of power.”

The inquiry focuses on Trump’s requests that Ukraine conduct investigations that could benefit him politically and harm Democratic political rival Joe Biden, and $391 million in security aid to Ukraine that Democrats accuse Trump of using as leverage on a vulnerable U.S. ally.

“The bribe is to grant or withhold military assistance in return for a public statement of a fake investigation into the elections,” House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on Nov. 14. “That’s bribery.”

Trump has dismissed the impeachment inquiry as a partisan witch hunt.

There is an obvious appeal to framing Trump’s conduct as bribery, legal experts say: not only is it an easy concept to grasp, but it is one of the two impeachable offenses specifically mentioned in the U.S. Constitution. However, what exactly constitutes “bribery” in the impeachment context is not clear cut.

Wednesday’s debate in the House Judiciary Committee centered around two different approaches: The broad Constitutional view that the term encompasses efforts to trade official actions for private benefits, and the narrower modern-day definition used by federal prosecutors in criminal cases.

Pamela Karlan, one of three law professors called to the hearing by Democrats, said that she believed that the writers of the Constitution would have thought Trump’s actions rose to the level of bribery.

Karlan, a professor at Stanford Law School, said they understood bribery to encompass “when you took private benefits, or asked for private benefits, in return for an official act.”

In defining bribery for purposes of impeachment, Congress does not need to adhere to how that crime is defined under federal law, Karlan said.

“When they say explicitly in the Constitution that the president can be impeached and removed from office for bribery, they weren’t referring to a statute,” said Karlan.

But Jonathan Turley, a scholar chosen to testify by the Republicans, argued that Democrats should stick to a definition of bribery in the U.S. criminal code, which the U.S. Supreme Court said in a 2016 decision should be defined narrowly.

The Supreme Court has made clear that “it is a dangerous thing to take a crime like bribery and apply a boundless interpretation,” Turley said, adding “what I would caution the committee is that these crimes have meaning.”

Turley, a professor at George Washington University, also testified that in other modern impeachments of U.S. presidents, there was little debate that the alleged wrongdoing violated U.S. criminal laws.

Source link
Read also:
The New York Times › 5 days ago
What is bribery? The question was robustly debated by legal experts on Wednesday during a congressional hearing in the impeachment inquiry of U.S. President Donald Trump.
Forbes › Finance › 1 month ago
LeBron and Chris Paul’s differing choices highlights a dilemma for many players in the league: should they maximize their on-court earnings or their personal agency?
New York Post › Opinions › 1 week ago
After nearly three years searching for grounds to ­impeach President Trump, House Democrats have landed on “bribery.” Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) cited bribery ­repeatedly as he grilled impeachment witnesses. House...
New York Daily News › Incident › 1 month ago
“Full House” star Lori Loughlin and her husband Mossimo Giannulli face new bribery charges in the college admissions bribery scam.
CBS News › 5 days ago
After much discussion over bribery at Wednesday's House Judiciary Committee impeachment hearing, Michael Gerhardt of the University of North Carolina Law School testified that bribery is defined by Congress, not the courts. Congressman Cedric Richmond...
NBC News › Politics › 3 weeks ago
'Evidence of bribery': Pelosi comments on impeachment hearing
USA Today › Politics › 2 weeks ago
Democrats are pounding the word 'bribery' in the ongoing impeachment inquiry to describe Donald Trump’s dealings with Ukraine's Volodymyr Zelensky.
Raw Story › 3 weeks ago
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) on Thursday explained why President Donald Trump could be guilty of attempted bribery. At a press conference, Pelosi pointed out that bribery is named in the U.S. Constitution as an impeachable offense. “What is the...
CBS News › 3 weeks ago
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says President Trump committed bribery in his dealings with the president of Ukraine. “I am saying that what the President has admitted to and says ‘it’s perfect’— I said it’s perfectly wrong. It’s bribery...
Fox News › Opinions › 2 weeks ago
The Constitution makes bribery a predicate for impeaching and removing a president. House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff is pushing the theory that President Trump has committed impeachable bribery because, as Schiff sees it, the president...
Sign In

Sign in to follow sources and tags you love, and get personalized stories.

Continue with Google