House Democrats opened a new phase in the impeachment hearings against President Donald Trump Wednesday with testimony from a parade of constitutional scholars, one of whom was expected to say that the misconduct by Trump was worse than any other president in U.S. history.
In his opening statements to the House Judiciary Committee, a copy of which was released before the hearing, Michael Gerhardt of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, will tell lawmakers that Trump is guilty of obstruction of justice, obstruction of congress and bribery.
“The president’s serious misconduct, including bribery, soliciting a personal favor from a foreign leader in exchange for his exercise of power, and obstructing justice and Congress are worse than the misconduct of any prior president,” Gerhardt will testify.
Gerhardt will address the committee along with Harvard University law professor Noah Feldman and Stanford University law professor Pamela Karlan. All three Democratic witnesses are attempting to make the case that Trump’s actions amount to high crimes and misdemeanors, a threshold that calls for his removal from office.
A lone Republican witness, George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley, was expected to tell the committee that the House’s attempt to remove Trump from office have been rushed.
“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 plans to say, according to a copy of his opening statement obtained by Politico.
The chairman of the Judiciary Committee, Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.), reportedly told a group of lawmakers prepping for the public hearings on Tuesday that he was “not going to take any shit” during the proceedings. The message was seen as a warning shot for Republicans who may be considering attempts to disrupt the hearings.
In his opening statement Wednesday, Nadler said if Congress does not hold Trump to account for his actions then the president will surely act in a similar manner again.
“We cannot wait for the election to address the present crisis. The integrity of that election is what is at stake,” he said.