CHICAGO (CBS) — The class: members of Congress. The lesson: the constitutionality of impeaching President Trump.
CBS 2’s Chris Tye breaks down testimony from four legal scholars.
“If what we’re talking about here is not impeachable, then nothing is impeachable,” said Professor Michael Gerhardt.
The House Judiciary Committee questioned four law professors to discuss whether President Trump’s actions rise to the level of an impeachable offense.
“The president’s pattern of behavior becomes clear: President Trump welcomed foreign interference in the 2016 election. He demanded it for the 2020 election,” said House Judiciary Chairman Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-New York.)
The three legal experts called by Democrats backed impeachment.
“If we cannot impeach a president who abuses his office for personal advantage, we no longer live in a democracy,” said Harvard University President Noah Feldman.
Jonathan Turley, a professor at George Washington University, and CBS News contributor, was the only witness for the Republicans.
“This is the narrowest impeachment in history,” he said.
While Turley didn’t excuse the president’s behavior, he cautioned the panel about using charges of obstruction and bribery.
“This isn’t improvisational jazz. Close enough is not good enough. If you’re going to accuse a president of bribery, you need to make it stick,” Turley said.
During the hearing, academic arguments about the Constitution were frequently interrupted by partisan bickering. Republicans accused Democrats of waging a purely political war.
“They’re more concerned about trying to fit the facts in to what the president supposedly did, presumably did, and make those hypotheticals stick to the American public,” said U.S. Congressman Doug Collins (R-Georgia.)
Chairman Nadler pointed out who wasn’t in the room.
“This is a moment in which the White House would have had an opportunity to question the witnesses. They declined their invitation,” Nadler said.
The White House Press Secretary called the hearing a sham and said Congress should be working for the American people.