Washington Several law professors have accused US President Donald Trump in Congress of offenses that they believe would justify impeachment. Trump had used his office for personal gain and clearly committed crimes that could be punished by impeachment, Harvard Harassment law expert Noah Feldman said Wednesday at a hearing in the House Judiciary Committee.
Two other legal experts expressed the same opinion. In addition to abuse of office, they also accused Trump of being bribed and of obstructing Congress in the case. A law professor invited by Trump's Republicans, on the other hand, backed the president.
Democrats in the US House of Representatives accuse Trump of pressuring his Ukrainian colleague, Volodymyr Selenskyj, to investigate his political rival, Democratic presidential hopeful Joe Biden. Since September they have been conducting investigations into possible impeachment proceedings against Trump.
In recent weeks, the secret service committee of the chamber had first questioned various government officials on the Ukraine affair and submitted a report on the testimony. Now the Judiciary Committee is dealing with the affair and held an expert hearing with constitutional rights activists on Wednesday.
Feldman said Trump's call to the head of a foreign government to investigate a political rival would be a relevant offense for impeachment. There are additional indications of further misdemeanors by the President – in that he has retained as a means of pressure military aid to Kiev and investigations have also made the condition for a visit to Selenskyjs in the White House.
Pamela Karlan, a law professor at Stanford University, also argued that testimony in Congress over the past few weeks had shown that the president had abused his office to challenge a competitor at the next election. "President Trump must be held accountable," she warned.
Another expert from the University of North Carolina, Michael Gerhardt, joined this assessment. The president has committed several crimes that justify impeachment, he said. "If Congress is not voting for impeachment here, then the impeachment process has lost all meaning."
One law professor from George Washington University, invited by Trump's republicans, objected: Jonathan Turley warned that he was concerned that in this case the standards for impeachment should be artificially lowered. "This is wrong." Trump did not do everything right, Turley said, referring to the conversation between Trump and Selenskyj in late July. "His phone call was far from perfect," he admitted. But the conditions for impeachment are not met.
Turley said, "I'm not a supporter of President Trump. I voted against him. "But here is not the personal consideration of the President, but only the legal situation. He complained that in the controversy over a possible impeachment both sides tried to demonize each other.
Trump's spokeswoman, Stephanie Grisham, described the session on Twitter as a "sham hearing". Three of the four experts are biased towards Trump. The President would be denied basic rights in the procedure. Actually, the US presumed innocence, but not for Trump in a democrat-controlled House of Representatives, she criticized.
The President denies the allegations against him and calls the investigation a "witch hunt". He asserts that he did nothing wrong and that the phone call with Selenskyj was "perfect".
The Judiciary Committee in the House of Representatives has the task of drafting any charges before the plenum of the Chamber, which is dominated by the Democrats, can vote on a possible Impeachment. If a majority votes in a vote, which is considered likely, then it would come in the Republican-controlled Senate to a kind of trial against Trump. Given the majorities there, it is unlikely that Trump could ultimately be convicted and removed from office.
More: As difficult as the Trump witnesses impeachment proceedings, his party is loyal to him – even if it harms democracy, comments Handelsblatt correspondent Jens Münchrath.