House Impeachment Hearing Gets Rancorous As Lawyers Testify

Republican staff attorney Steve Castor, left, and Democratic staff attorney Daniel Goldman and are sworn in to testify as the House Judiciary Committee hears investigative findings in the impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump, Monday, Dec. 9, 2019, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Top House lawyers sparred with lawmakers and each other in an acrimonious hearing Monday over the impeachment case against President Donald Trump as Democrats prepare formal charges.

Democrats insisted that Trump’s push to have Ukraine investigate rival Joe Biden while withholding U.S. military aid ran counter to U.S. policy and benefited Russia as well as himself. But in one testy exchange, Republican attorney Stephen Castor dismissed the transcript of Trump’s crucial call with Ukraine as “eight ambiguous lines” that did not amount to the president seeking a personal political favor.

Democrats argued vigorously that Trump’s meaning could not have been clearer in seeking political dirt on Biden, his possible opponent in the 2020 election.

The chief Democratic investigator, Daniel Goldman, asked for his view, testified, “I don’t think there’s any other way to read the words on the page.” Goldman is the top Democratic counsel on the Intelligence Committee.

The Judiciary Committee is reviewing the findings of the Intelligence panel’s 300-page report ahead of a vote, possibly as soon as this week, on two or more articles of impeachment on charges of abuse of power, bribery and obstruction against the Republican president. A vote in the full House could come before Christmas.

From the White House, Trump tweeted repeatedly, assailing the “Witch Hunt!” and “Do Nothing Democrats.”

The top Republican on the Judiciary panel, Rep. Doug Collins of Georgia, demanded to hear from Rep. Adam Schiff, the chairman of the Intelligence Committee, whose report provides the foundation for articles of impeachment. Schiff declined to appear, sending the panel’s chief counsel to argue the case.

The hearing sets off a pivotal week as Democrats march toward a full House vote expected by Christmas. In drafting the articles of impeachment, Speaker Nancy Pelosi is facing a legal and political challenge of balancing the views of her majority while hitting the Constitution’s bar of “treason, bribery or other high crimes and misdemeanors.”

Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler was blunt as he opened the hearing, saying, “President Trump put himself before country.”

Collins said Democrats are racing to jam impeachment through on a “clock and a calendar” ahead of the 2020 presidential election.

“They can’t get over the fact that Donald Trump is the president of the United States, and they don’t have a candidate that can beat him,” Collins said.

Nadler said the case against Trump is clear after “multiple officials testified that the president’s demand for an investigation into his rivals was a part of his personal, political agenda, and not related to the foreign policy objectives of the United States.

“The integrity of our next election is at stake.”

The Republicans tried numerous times to halt or slow the proceedings, formally objecting several times that the committee’s Democratic counsel was impugning Trump as he spelled out potential charges. Nadler responded that negative comments about Trump might well be expected in listing reasons to impeach him. The Republicans demanded roll call votes several times, including on taking breaks and “taking down” the negative comments, all defeated on party-line votes.

The hearing was briefly interrupted by a protester shouting “We voted for Donald Trump!” and decrying Democrats as the ones committing “treason.” The protester was escorted from the House hearing room by Capitol Police.

Trump spent the morning tweeting against the proceedings. He and and his allies acknowledge he likely will be impeached in the Democratic-controlled House, but they also expect acquittal next year in the Senate, where Republicans have the majority. Trump’s team is turning attention elsewhere, including Monday’s release of a long-awaited Justice Department report into the 2016 Russia investigation.

That watchdog report found that the FBI was justified in opening its investigation into ties between the Trump presidential campaign and Russia and that the FBI did not act with political bias, despite “serious performance failures” up the bureau’s chain of command.

Those findings undercut Trump’s claim that he was the target of a “witch hunt,” rejecting theories and criticism spread by Trump and his supporters. Yet it found errors and misjudgments likely to be exploited by Republican allies as the president faces probable impeachment.

The White House is refusing to participate in the impeachment process, and Collins asked to postpone Monday’s hearing, criticizing Democrats for moving too swiftly.

Trump, meanwhile, is heading out for campaign rallies shifting attention away from the House. Over the weekend, he was focused on a related matter, the Justice Department inspector general’s findings on the FBI’s decisions to investigate Russian interference in the 2016 election. The president has long called special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe a “witch hunt.”

Trump tweeted Sunday, “I.G. report out tomorrow. That will be the big story!”

Democrats say Trump abused his power in a July 25 phone call when he asked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy for a favor in investigating Democrats. That was bribery, they say, since Trump was withholding nearly $400 million in military aid that Ukraine depended on to counter Russian aggression.

Trump said over the weekend that his personal attorney Rudy Giuliani wants to take the information gathered from Giuliani’s investigations and a recent trip to Ukraine to the U.S. attorney general and to Congress.

Trump and his aides have made clear that they now see his impeachment in the House as inevitable and have shifted their focus. A vote to convict requires a two-thirds vote of the Senate, where Republicans hold 53 of 100 seats. It is unlikely that Republican senators would cross party lines and vote to remove Trump from office.

As Democrats draft the articles, Pelosi’s challenge will be to go broad enough to appease her liberal flank, which prefers a more robust accounting of Trump’s actions reaching back to Mueller’s findings. At the same time, centrist lawmakers prefer charges more tailored to Ukraine. Democratic leaders were to meet Monday evening.

Nadler, in television interviews, declined to say ultimately how many articles of impeachment Democrats will present but said they will involve “certainly abuse of power” and likely “obstruction of Congress.”

He pointed to a “pattern” of conduct by Trump in seeking foreign interference in elections but would not commit to including the evidence of obstruction of justice in Mueller’s Russia investigation as part of the articles of impeachment.

In his report, Mueller said he could not determine that Trump’s campaign conspired or coordinated with Russia in the 2016 election. But Mueller said he could not exonerate Trump of obstructing justice in the probe and left it for Congress to determine.

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  1. “Abuse of power, bribery and Obstruction of Justice” It might be the 3rd Impeachment in USA History but for sure the 1st for ” Bribery”. Clinton’s “Girlfriend” story is clearly a small potato next to “BRIBERY”

  2. There certainly should be a rush to remove a criminal President from office regardless of party. Republican’s used to have respect for law and family values before the Trump nomination.
    I am so disheartened by what the GOP has become.

  3. I hope that Yidden should not pay the price for backing of Trump. Pirke Avoth stated it very well. Yidden should have A Dr, Salk and I wonder how many of the brilliant enlighten poster every heard of an IRON LUNG

  4. You guys( 1 maybe in triplicate) are just thugs. No evidence , hearsay, sham impeachment, loco witnesses , no nothing. You scribblers offer no intelligent evidence except deranged hate and empty slogans. There’s nada, zero grounds for impeachment. You’ll fsil big time. Americans are very aware if this Nazi like DemocEvil forgery to obliviate millions of us. You’re liars, bums and you’ll pay the price and if you’re Jewish, you’ll pay double. You’ll either get killed in the voting booth or you’ll drag the military into this, mark my word. Americans are not going down quietly, they’ll be blood on the streets so watch what you Stalinists pray for. Tell your reps to go to work instead of undoing a legitimate election.
    Stop, because it won’t be pretty.
    You Jewish feces who insult a president who’s doing so much for the USA and Israel are in danger. You should kiss his derriere . You think the loony pastor was an anomoly? Watch the mainstream folks slowly but very surely come out openly against the Jew Coup and leftie radical Hebes. That goes for the right wing Trump haters too.. You Jew ingrates are turd , and I’m an orthodox Jew. You’re not as smart as the steteotypes make us out to be.
    You’re as dumb and as sightless as pre WWII Jewry. Repent.

  5. 3 comments all from the same silly spammer.
    Bribery and all the nonsense charges won’t stick . It could be the first of whatever you want . It’s also the first president to be so discredited my his enemies . That’s is like the boy crying wolf . After 4 years of endless attacks nobody cares about your bribery .’
    You said the sane garbage about Nixon . Mr ghost . Yes we care about law and order but not when our elected president does what he needs to , to fend off his constant attackers . It’s also a silly argument bec law and order means no violence and safe streets . It doesn’t and Never meant petty blue collar crimes . Family values means the courts as a society withhold laws that respect family structure and as a man and women . If someone personally
    Cheats that doesn’t detract from society norms as to what courts call marriage . You know the difference and you are being silly
    No frum yidden won’t pay the price . Trump is doing a great job and will Continue to

    • Nu Genious? who is all 3? Yoni 1? Yoni 2? Yingale? Phineas? No Dakota? Individual 1 ? Educated Judith ? Educated Edith? Hillary? or the Fake Press? You dont get the trill so you got the troll.

      • Yes we all agree impeach now . Please get it over with . Good luck finding 20 senators . So far not one Republican congressman flipped yet . Good luck . And thanks for dragging Biden down

    • Archy, Sorry to tell you that only one of the above posts is mine. Evidently there are others on VIN who don’t share your views on Trump.
      I remember Tricky Dick being discredited even before he was elected. Remember the cloth coat speech?
      Our laws apply to the President exactly as they apply to each of us. “Petty blue collar crimes” are an affront to society and lead to more serious crimes.
      Somehow I don’t think of Donald Trump a serial adulterer or his son who campaigns with his mistress before his divorce demonstrate GOP family values or would meet with approval of the Moral Majority. I for one never vote for known adulterers or other who lead immoral lives

      • I remember Tricky Dick being discredited even before he was elected.

        Oh yes thats funny? He won in 49 states. For someone who was discredited? Are you for real? Alot of fake news. And you don’t remember as you are not old enough. Stop lying.

        And you are the other ones above too. 90% of frum people voted ofr Trump. Kind of odd that 90% here are anti. besides you act very similar to the other writers. Its hard to keep track of all your screen names and how to faek it every time you fool.

        Petty blue collar crimes” are an affront to society and lead to more serious crimes. I meatn petty white collar crimes. And no they tend to lead to less harm. Our society as a whole has too much mass incarceration for white collar crimes. And too little for blue collar.

        president’s should have more leewway than me or you. The law should not be the same. Their dealings are more complex and they are scrutnized more. They need more protection. Besides as the leader of the greatest county in the world they are a bot of a king whether you like it or not.

        Again GOP family values is about protecting those who chose to maintan family values like frum torah jews. We do’t want to be forced to accept gay and bake cakes for them. That’s family values. Its not about the individual or his sins. Republcians always sinned too. Look at Gingrich and others. But thats not the message.

        Anyhow you are a fat lair as I don;t believe you support regan either. You are full if it

  6. The Moral Majority are in for Trump because he espouses its values regardless of how he once behaved personally . There’s failing in every one of us including the great Reagan whom I loved.So far, Trump didn’t do Blue Dresses in the hallowed Oval Office like the Great Stainmaker with Hillary down the hall.
    We don’t elect popes here.

  7. Trumpf is now in the HISTORY BOOKS as only the fourth Prez to have IMPEACHMENT HEARINGS & ARTICLES OF IMPEACHMENT against him. As not one person has defended the Orange Miscreant, the kapos and goose-schleppers can only attack and try to discredit the process. He’s guilty- if not, why not testify? HE’S GUILTY ON ALL COUNTS. IMPEACHED. REMOVE.

    • Stop reading Der Goy… where you probably get your naive ignorant information …
      You stupid idiotic rant that “not one person has defended….” is a lie …
      but how would you know? Did you watch the hearings? You Meshiginar
      He may very well be impeached but cannot be removed …the Senate will not move to remove him as the majority are republicans …
      In the Senate, should it go to trial … The fat Kugel fresser Nadler and the Pencil Necked Shiff will be called as witnesses where the entire sham will be uncovered ….
      And Trump will testify in the Senate where he can call any witnesses he wants and they must testify …this is the senate not the house ….no monkey Rumanian Shtick over there ….
      Regards to Zali …saw him in Bet Shemesh where he was boooed by thousands… did you read that in Der Goy? Just curious

  8. Just keep fighting for the people, Mr. President. Awesome accomplishments in economy, bringing manufacturing home, helping Latinos, Blacks , Jews. Deregulating onerous Kenyan chokeholds, black folks running to him in droves.. Abandoning Democrat KKK and enslaving black voters, giving them no hope but harping on racism . Sharpton, Wright and Jerkson are out. POTUS is IN… Maga.. KAGA.

  9. 1. There’s no proof that Trump coerced Ukraine to investigate Biden.
    2. Even if he would have, he had every right to withhold aid to Ukraine until they investigated corruption, including Biden.
    3. The whole impeachment is a sham; obvious when they claim that Trump exercising his Executive privilege, is Obstruction!

  10. So now, no bribery, no treason, nah that’s not believable. Let’s bring some Bob
    ( what page was that again?) Muller, some obstruction, power abuse.- They’re insane– Tottering Nancy with false teeth, BullSchiff, Fattler, the whole team including the half senile Carolyn Baloney from NY. They’re clinical psychotics.


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