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Impeachment Hearing: There’s a difference between requesting investigations and a quid pro quo - Scholar Turley

Scholar Turley says he does not see proof of 'quid pro quo' in House intelligence report

As US House Democrats entered a new phase of the impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump on Wednesday, the House Judiciary Committee took over and began hearings to debate and determine possible articles of impeachment. 

Wednesday's hearing, which features four legal scholars, comes after the release of a 300-page draft report from the House Intelligence Committee, which has been holding closed-door and public hearings over recent months, and gathering what it described as "overwhelming evidence" against the president.

The inquiry centres on a call between Trump and Ukraine's president in which Trump asks for a probe into the Bidens. Trump also wanted a probe into a conspiracy theory about the 2016 elections. At the time of the call, Trump was withholding $391m in military aid from Ukraine, and conditioned a White House meeting on the probes, according to witnesses.

As the new stage of the inquiry begins, here are all the latest updates as of Wednesday December 4:

Constitutional scholar Jonathan Turley, the only expert called by Republicans to testify before the House Judiciary Committee, said that the report by the House intelligence committee did not show proof of 'quid pro quo' (Latin for "a favour for a favour").

Turley said the report has "left doubts" about what actually occured in president's dealings with Ukraine. He noted his interpretation differed from the other legal scholars testifying on Wednesday.

"There’s a difference between requesting investigations and a quid pro quo," said Turley. "You need to stick the landing on the quid pro quo."
Scholar Turley refutes that Trump's action was 'clear case of bribery'

Constitutional scholar Jonathan Turley, the only expert called by Republicans to testify before the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday, said that it was not clear cut that President Donald Trump committed bribery.

Turley, a law professor at George Washington University, was refuting claims by other legal witnesses that Trump's conduct in pressuring Ukraine to commit to politically motivated investigations, as detailed in other witness testimony, constituted bribery.

Turley also said that claims that Trump obstructed justice by not cooperating with the House investigation was also not clear cut, as the Trump administration was taking their objection to court.

"If you make going to court a high crime and misdemeanor. It's abuse of power. It's an abuse of your power," Turley told legislators.
Scholarly witnesses called by Democrats say Trump committed bribery

The three legal scholars called to testify by Democrats in the House Judiciary Committee hearing as part of the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump have said that the President's dealings with Ukraine constitute bribery.

“If what we’re talking about is not impeachable, then nothing is impeachable,” Michael Gerhardt, a professor of law at the University of North Carolina said during questioning by the Democratic counsel. 

Trump campaign criticises testifying constitutional scholars

As the House Judiciary Committee began its first hearing in the impeachment inquiry into US President Donald Trump, the president's reelection campaign tweeted photos of the testifying constitutional scholars.

In a series of tweets that coincided with the opening statements by the witnesses, the campaign referred in turn to Noah Feldman, Pamela Karlan, and Michael Gerhardt as "liberal professor" and accused them of holding Democratic allegiances.

Jonathan Turley, law professor at George Washington University called to testify by Republicans, was not featured in the tweets.


Team Trump✔@TeamTrump Meet liberal professor Noah Feldman.#JerryRigged


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Constitutional scholar Turley: legal case for impeachment 'dangerous'

Constitutional scholar Jonathan Turley, the only expert called by Republicans to testify before the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday, has said the current impeachment case laid out by democrats "is not just woefully inadequate, but in some respects, dangerous".

“If the House proceeds solely on the Ukrainian allegations, this impeachment would stand out among modern impeachments as the shortest proceeding, with the thinnest evidentiary record, and the narrowest grounds ever used to impeach a president," Turley, a law professor at George Washington University, said in his prepared testimony.

"That does not bode well for future presidents who are working in a country often sharply and, at times, bitterly divided," he said.


Constitutional scholar Gerhardt: Trump's conduct worse than Nixon's


Constitutional scholar Michael Gerhardt, testifying before the House Judiciary Committee, has said President Donald Trump's actions are worse than President Richard Nixon's.

"If left unchecked, the president will likely continue his pattern of soliciting foreign interference on his behalf in the next election," Gerhardt said in his prepared opening statement.

"If Congress fails to impeach here, then the impeachment process has lost all meaning, and, along with that, our Constitution’s carefully crafted safeguards against the establishment of a king on American soil," he said. 

Constitutional scholar Karlan: Trump dealings 'a cardinal reason why the Constitution contains an impeachment power'
Constitutional scholar Pamela Karlan, testifying before the House Judiciary Committee, has said President Donald Trump's dealings with Ukraine exemplify "why the Constitution contains an impeachment power".

Karlan, a professor of law at Stanford University, said Trump's actions "struck at the very heart of what makes this country the 'republic' to which we pledge allegiance".

"This is not politics as usual - at least not in the United States or any other mature democracy," she said in her prepared testimony

Constitutional scholar Feldman: Trump conduct 'clearly constitutes impeachable high crimes and misdemeanors'

Constitutional scholar Noah Feldman, testifying before the House Judiciary Committee, has said President Donald Trump's dealings with Ukraine "clearly constitutes impeachable high crimes and misdemeanors".

"The president's conduct described by the testimony embodies the [Constitution] framers' concern that a sitting president would corruptly abuse the powers of office to distort the outcome of a presidential election in his favor," Feldman, a professor of law at Harvard University, said in his prepared testimony on Wednesday.

Collins: Impeachment inquiry is 'a simple railroad job'


The ranking Republican on the House Judiciary Committee, Representative Doug Collins, blasted the Democrat-lead impeachment inquiry as a partisan attack on the president.

"This is not an impeachment. This is a simple railroad job," Collins said during his opening statement.

"You just don’t like the guy," Collins said of the president, "You haven’t liked him since November 2016."

Nadler: If Trump not held 'in check' he will 'almost certainly' solicit election interference again

Jerrold Nadler, the Democratic chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, has cast the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump as a race against time as the 2020 elections loom.

Nadler, giving his opening statement on Wednesday, said the facts showed that Trump sought foreign interference for his personal political gain and then obstructed the investigation.

"The President has shown us his pattern of conduct," Nadler said. "If we do not act to hold him in check - now - President Trump will almost certainly try again to solicit interference in the election for his personal, political benefit."

Nadler added that the House will "move swiftly" to charge the president if they determine he has committed an impeachable offense.

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