House Judiciary Committee to hold first impeachment hearing Dec. 4

The House Judiciary Committee will hold its first hearing next week in the swift-moving impeachment investigation into President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump administration eyes proposal to block jet engine sales to China: report Trump takes track to open Daytona 500 Brazile 'extremely dismayed' by Bloomberg record MORE's dealings with Ukraine, the panel announced Tuesday.

Behind Judiciary Chairman Jerrold NadlerJerrold (Jerry) Lewis NadlerTrump adviser presses House investigators to make Bezos testify Nadler demands answers from Barr on 'new channel' for receiving Ukraine info from Giuliani Trump predicts Ocasio-Cortez will launch primary bid against Schumer MORE (D-N.Y.), the committee will hear from legal scholars as Democrats weigh whether the evidence turned up in their weeks-long impeachment inquiry warrants the drafting of articles aimed at removing the president from office.

The hearing — entitled “The Impeachment Inquiry into President Donald J. Trump: Constitutional Grounds for Presidential Impeachment” — is the first in the third phase of the investigation into whether Trump abused his powers in pressing Ukrainian leaders to find dirt on his political opponents.

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Ahead of the hearing, Nadler wrote to Trump requesting his participation — and that of the White House counsel — as part of ensuring "a fair and informative process."

"I am hopeful that you and your counsel will opt to participate," Nadler wrote.

In an accompanying statement, Nadler was sharper still.

"At base, the President has a choice to make: he can take this opportunity to be represented in the impeachment hearings, or he can stop complaining about the process," he said.

The Dec. 4 hearing arrives as Democrats shift the impeachment process from an investigation of Trump's relations with Ukraine to an assessment of whether the evidence they've turned up merits a fourth phase: articles to be brought to a vote on the House floor.

Nadler framed the public forum as a chance "to discuss the constitutional framework through which the House may analyze the evidence gathered in the present inquiry."

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"The Committee intends this hearing to serve as an opportunity to discuss the historical and constitutional basis of impeachment, as well as the Framers' intent and understanding of terms like 'high crimes and misdemeanors,'" Nadler wrote to Trump.

Neither Nadler nor committee aides revealed which legal scholars will testify next week, nor did they indicate if Wednesday's forum will be followed by additional hearings to precede the potential drafting of articles.

The third phase follows a series of closed-door depositions — conducted by the Intelligence, Oversight and Foreign Affairs committees — with 17 diplomats and national security officials with insights into Trump's handling of foreign policy in Kyiv.

More recently, the Intelligence Committee conducted public hearings with 12 of those witnesses, many of whom defied the White House's attempt to block administration officials from cooperating.

Heading into the Thanksgiving recess, impeachment investigators, led by Intelligence Chairman Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffDemocrats fear rule of law crumbling under Trump DOJ lawyers resign en masse over Roger Stone sentencing George Conway: We might have to impeach Trump again MORE (D-Calif.), began drafting a summary report of findings and recommendations to be delivered to Nadler and the Judiciary panel, which must decide if Trump's conduct is impeachable.

It remains unclear if that report will be finalized prior to next Wednesday's Judiciary hearing. 

Updated at 2:40 p.m.