Three law professors said Wednesday that the political trial procedure against US President Donald Trump is justified and necessary to protect democracy, irritating Republican lawmakers, who accused them of bias at a congressional hearing.
These experts, invited by the Democrats who control the House of Representatives, were refuted by another academic, invited by the Republicans, who found the evidence "insufficient" to press charges against the president.
The process for the eventual impeachment of Trump was initiated by the Democrats at the end of September, after learning that the president asked Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden, his potential rival in the elections in 2020. Democrats say the Republican president abused of his power to promote his re-election campaign and pressured Kiev by freezing almost 400 million dollars of military aid for the conflict that country has with Russia. Trump released that money after hearing the accusation of an anonymous official.RELATED
In Trump's absence, lawmakers began the debate to determine whether his conduct corresponded to one of the grounds for dismissal mentioned in the Constitution, "treason, corruption or other crimes and major offenses."
Categorically, the three prestigious university professors responded affirmatively, with strong arguments.
"If Congress does not dismiss it, the dismissal process will have lost its meaning, as will the constitutional guarantees aimed at preventing the installation of a king on American soil," said Michael Gerhardt of the University of North Carolina.
"If we cannot accuse a president who uses his power for personal purposes, we no longer live in a democracy, we live in a monarchy or a dictatorship," said Noah Feldman, a Harvard law professor, questioned by the House Judicial Committee low.
White House spokeswoman Stephanie Grisham responded in a statement saying that "the only thing that the three liberal professors established at the hearing of (Judicial Committee President, Democratic Legislator Jerry) Nadler is their political bias" against the president. "He did nothing to change the fact that, despite weeks of hearings in this deceptive process, the president did nothing wrong," Grisham said.
For his part, Pamela Karlan, of Stanford University, accused Trump of committing "a particularly serious abuse of power" by asking a foreign country for help in winning the elections. And he pointed out that the United States Constitution does not give the chief executive the absolute power of a king.
The dissenting voice on this panel of experts, Jonathan Turley of George Washington University, lamented the lack of "direct evidence" and the "precipitation" of the Democrats. In this debate, "there is much more anger than reason," he said.
In fact, there was virulence on both sides. Trump "represents a continuing threat to the Constitution and our democracy," Nadler said, concluding nearly eight hours of hearings, broadcast live on television. Panel number two, Republican Doug Collins, replied that the case against the president has no basis. "There is nothing wrong, nothing that deserves an accusation," he said.
The Judicial Committee evaluates four charges against the president: abuse of power, corruption, obstruction of Congress and obstruction of justice. If you consider them to be relevant, you will write the so-called "articles of accusation" to be voted in the plenary in the lower house, perhaps before Christmas.
Given the Democratic majority in the House, Trump is expected to enter history books as the third president of the United States to be put on political trial, after Andrew Johnson in 1868 and Bill Clinton in 1998, both acquitted. The Senate, with a Republican majority, would be the body responsible for judging the president and would require an unlikely majority of two-thirds to dismiss him.
Trump's lawyer, on a controversial journey
Rudy Giuliani, personal defender of the president and central figure of the case linked to Ukraine, was in Kiev on Wednesday next to the production of a documentary that seeks to dismantle the investigation of Congress.
The New York Times reported that Giuliani traveled to Budapest (Hungary), and then to Kiev to meet with former Ukrainian prosecutors who could be related to the investigation. When asked about these meetings, the former mayor of New York responded: "Like any good lawyer, I gather evidence to defend my client against false accusations."
Like Trump, Giuliani sought to prove that Biden and his son Hunter, who was on the board of directors of the Ukrainian gas company Burisma, had incurred acts of corruption. But Biden claims that his contacts with the Ukrainian prosecutor were part of the efforts of the United States, coordinated with the European Union and the IMF, to remove him from office because he was accused of covering up corruption in Ukraine and sabotaging government reforms.
Giuliani is reportedly also under investigation for his representation of multiple Ukrainian figures, including Dmitri Firtash, a billionaire who faces extradition to the United States from Austria on charges of bribery and extortion.
(With information from AFP)