Three of the four witnesses are expected to testify that there is a case for drawing up articles of impeachment by the 41-member panel which has a Democratic majority, while one witness invited by the Republican minority is expected to say the case is “slipshod,” reflecting the partisan divide that has vitiated the process. Remarks before the testimony – which has just begun at the time of writing — by the panel’s Democratic chair and the lead Republican reflected the chasm.
The Committee chairman New York Congressman Jerry Nadler said that President Trump’s conduct of explicitly soliciting foreign interference in American elections constituted an unprecedented course of conduct that included all of the acts that most concerned the Framers” of the Constitution. The President was also willing to compromise his office for personal and political gain, and when caught, he used his office to obstruct investigators, Nadler said, pointing out that one previous President (Bill Clinton) who was impeached literally donated blood to the probe (Clinton took a blood test).
“We cannot wait for elections to address the issue because the integrity of the election is one of the things at sake,” Nadler argued, pushing back at suggestions from some quarters that the issue is best settled by the 2020 election, and warning that Trump will again solicit interference in the upcoming elections.
Trump supporters on the committee led by folksy Georgia Congressman and ranking member Doug Collins argued that the impeachment process was driven by a personal anti-Trump sentiment. They derided the pro-impeachment witnesses as “three stooges” who are helping Democrats perpetuate “more of the same old sham!”
“We may be all scrubbed up and looking pretty for impeachment but this is not an impeachment. This is just a simple railroad job and today’s is a waste of time,” Collins said.
Ahead of the testimony, Nadler was quoted as telling a private meeting with lawmakers that he “not going to take any shit” during the hearing amid disquiet about his well-known position that President Trump’s impeachment is inevitable given the gravity of his offenses. In fact, there are indications that Nadler will seek to impeach the President on all constitutional grounds, from treason to bribery to other high crimes and misdemeanors.
President Trump will not lose his office even if the Democrat-led House Judiciary Committee draws up articles of impeachment and sends it over to the full 435-member House (also currently Democrat controlled) for a formal vote; that precipitate action is up to the Senate, which has to hold a trial, and convict the President by a two-third majority (67/100). Republicans currently control the Senate 52-47, and there is little likelihood just now of 20 Republican Senators abandoning Trump.
Only two US Presidents – Andrew Jackson and Bill Clinton – have been impeached in the country’s history, and neither of them was removed from office. The only other President besides Trump who faced an impeachment inquiry, Richard Nixon, resigned before the process was completed.