Live coverage: Witnesses say Trump committed impeachable offenses

The House’s impeachment inquiry into President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrumps light 97th annual National Christmas Tree Trump to hold campaign rally in Michigan 'Don't mess with Mama': Pelosi's daughter tweets support following press conference comments MORE shifts to the Judiciary Committee on Wednesday after the chamber’s Intelligence panel issued a scathing 300-page report accusing Trump of abusing his power and obstructing its eight-week probe.

The Judiciary Committee will hear from four constitutional scholars in its first hearing.

The committee’s chairman, Rep. Jerrold NadlerJerrold (Jerry) Lewis NadlerTurley: Democrats offering passion over proof in Trump impeachment GOP lawmaker: 'Amazing' Democrats would ask if Founding Fathers would back Trump impeachment Trump asks if Democrats 'love our country' amid ongoing impeachment hearing MORE (D-N.Y.), has framed the hearing as an opportunity to "discuss the constitutional framework through which the House may analyze the evidence gathered in the present inquiry."

The focus is likely to be more on the members of Judiciary panel than the witnesses, however, since the 41-member committee includes staunch conservatives and leading liberals.

Follow The Hill’s live coverage of the hearing below.

White House: Hearing just reiterates 'political bias' against Trump

7 p.m.

The White House sought to declare victory following Wednesday's hearing, saying it had been a "good day" for Trump and a bad one for Democrats and attacking the Democrats' witnesses as "three liberal professors."

“The only thing the three liberal professors established at Chairman Nadler’s hearing was their political bias against the President," White House press secretary Stephanie GrishamStephanie GrishamTrump blasts Pelosi's impeachment announcement Trump campaign tells Democrats to 'just get on with' impeachment vote Pelosi says House will move to impeach President Trump MORE said in a statement. "It did nothing to change the fact that, despite weeks of hearings in this sham process, the President did nothing wrong."

Grisham urged Congress to "get back to work."

"The United States–Mexico–Canada trade agreement, infrastructure, and drug pricing all await action from Speaker Pelosi. Instead, House Democrats continue to ignore their constituents by focusing on this pathetic and desperate charade," she said.

Team Trump dismisses hearing of ‘liberal professors’

6:40 p.m.

The Trump campaign blasted Wednesday's marathon hearing and attacked the Democrats' witnesses as "liberal professors who worked for or donated to Obama or Clinton and who supported impeachment since the moment Donald Trump was elected," arguing their lack of first-person knowledge of the president's dealings with Ukraine rendered their testimony irrelevant.

"They have nothing to offer but opinions on a transcript of a phone call that the whole world can read for itself. Not one of them has any personal knowledge of any events regarding Ukraine and not one can add anything substantive to the already-ridiculous impeachment farce," Trump's 2020 campaign manager Brad ParscaleBradley (Brad) James ParscaleMORE said in a statement. "The sham continues.”

Nadler says American public backs impeaching Trump

6:35 p.m.

Nadler in his closing remarks claimed that the American public is on Democrats' side as they seek to make their case to remove Trump from office.

Nadler, after pointing to GOP claims that their inquiry lacks insufficient evidence, said "the American people and the majority on this committee disagree."

“A majority of this country is clearly ready to impeach and remove Trump,” he added.

The Judiciary chairman also sought to defend their process from Republican protests that the impeachment inquiry has been unfair, responding that their complaints are “just typical.”

“It is not [unfair],” Nadler said. “My colleagues on the other side of the aisle, unable to defend the actions of the president, have used this argument before.”

Nadler, listing a series of rebuttals to the GOP criticism, shot back that they have not provided a factual defense for Trump in terms of his contacts with Ukraine.

Rather, the chairman called Trump’s actions "an urgent threat” to U.S. national security and the upcoming elections, claiming that Trump will continue to solicit foreign interference in U.S. domestic affairs if “left unchecked.”

“This is why we must act now,” Nadler added.

With that, Nadler gaveled out of the hearing.

Collins says it is ‘way too early’ for Judiciary Committee to address impeachment

6:20 p.m.

Committee ranking member Doug CollinsDouglas (Doug) Allen CollinsDoug Collins wants hearing with GOP witnesses before articles of impeachment Collins swipes at Nadler: 'Does the chairman even know what's going on?' Three legal scholars say Trump should be impeached; one thinks otherwise MORE (R-Ga.) accused House Democrats of moving the impeachment inquiry too fast, urging Nadler in his closing remarks to tell the panel what the next steps on impeachment would be.

“As much as I respect those who came before us today, this is way too early, because we have not as a committee done our job, we have not as a committee come together, looked at evidence, taken fact witnesses...to say what happened, how did it happen, and why did it happen,” Collins said.

Collins urged to commit to a date to hold a “minority day of hearings,” which Republican committee members had requested at the beginning of the day, a request that Nadler had tabled for consideration later. 

Collins also asked Nadler to call “real witnesses” to testify in regards to the impeachment inquiry, and accused the Democrats of not being fair in the impeachment process.

“Where is fairness? It was promised, it is not being delivered,” Collins said. 

As Collins finished his closing remarks, Nadler began his own by saying that he “looked forward” to speaking with Collins about his request to hold a minority day of hearings.

Collins interrupted and told Nadler “there is nothing for you to review.” Nadler did not respond to this, and began his prepared closing remarks.

Witness apologizes for bringing up Barron Trump

5:55 p.m.

Stanford University professor Pamela Karlan apologized after she received backlash for mentioning Trump's 13-year-old son Barron Trump during the impeachment hearing. 

"I want to apologize for what I said earlier about the president's son. It was wrong of me to do that. I wish the president would apologize, obviously, for the things that he's done that's wrong, but I do regret having said that," Karlan said.

The witness's apology came after remarks she made earlier in the day while explaining the president's rights under the Constitution.

"Contrary to what President Trump has said, Article 2 does not give him the power to do anything he wants," Karlan said, "and I'll just give you one example that shows you the difference between him and a king, which is, the Constitution says there can be no titles of nobility, so while the president can name his son Barron, he can't make him a baron," she said.

Nunes makes appearance during Judiciary hearing

5:35 p.m.

Rep. Devin NunesDevin Gerald NunesThe Hill's Morning Report - Dem dilemma on articles of impeachment Conservative Dan Bongino launches alternative to the Drudge Report Poll: 46 percent of voters say Trump's Ukraine dealings constitute impeachable offense MORE (Calif.), the top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, made an appearance during the Judiciary hearing, huddling with two Republican panel members

It is not known what words were passed between Nunes, Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.) and Rep. Mike JohnsonJames (Mike) Michael JohnsonLive coverage: Witnesses say Trump committed impeachable offenses Lawmakers to watch during Wednesday's impeachment hearing House Republicans on Judiciary strategize ahead of Wednesday's impeachment hearing MORE (R-La.), but the conversation was not a long one.

Nunes then joined Rep. Mark MeadowsMark Randall MeadowsTrump, first lady take part in National Christmas Tree lighting Congress races to beat deadline on shutdown GOP lawmakers, Trump campaign rip 'liberal law professors' testifying in impeachment hearing MORE (R-N.C.) in observing the hearing for a short time in the public seating area before leaving the room.

Cline compares the hearing to a TV 'rerun'

5:15 p.m.

Rep. Ben ClineBenjamin (Ben) Lee ClineLive coverage: Witnesses say Trump committed impeachable offenses GOP lawmaker compares Trump impeachment hearings to 'Star Wars': It's 'The Empire Strikes Back' House fails to pass temporary immigration protections for Venezuelans MORE (R-Va.) compared Wednesday's impeachment hearing to a television "rerun."

"It's just past 5 o'clock and a lot of families are just getting home from work right now. They're turning on the TV and they're wondering what they're watching on TV. They're asking themselves 'is this a rerun? 'Cause I thought I saw this a couple of weeks ago," he said. 

"No, this is not a rerun unfortunately. This is act two of the of the three-part tragedy, the impeachment of President Trump," Cline added.

He then characterized the hearing as "several very accomplished constitutional scholars attempting to divine the intent, whether it's of the president or of the various witnesses who appeared during the Schiff hearings," referring to House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffWhite House adopts confident tone after Pelosi signals go on impeachment Democrats could introduce articles of impeachment next week The shifting impeachment positions of Jonathan Turley MORE (D-Calif.).

"It's very frustrating to me as a member of the Judiciary Committee why we are where we are today," Cline said.

GOP lawmaker asks witnesses if they voted for Trump

4:51 p.m.

Rep. Tom McClintockThomas (Tom) Milller McClintockJudiciary Republican asks impeachment witnesses if they voted for Trump Live coverage: Witnesses say Trump committed impeachable offenses This week: Impeachment inquiry moves to Judiciary Committee MORE (R-Calif.) asked the witnesses whether they voted for Trump, a line of questioning that at least one of the constitutional law experts objected to publicly. 

"With a show of hands, how many on the panel actually voted for Donald Trump in 2016?" McClintock asked. 

"I don't think we're obligated to say anything about how we cast our ballots," Stanford University law professor Pamela Karlan replied. 

"I think you've made your positions, Professor Karlan, very very clear," McClintock said. 

"I have a right to cast a secret ballot," Karlan retorted. 

Nadler then said that McClintock could ask the question, but that the witnesses did not have to answer it. 

The California Republican then asked for a show of hands how many of the witnesses "supported" Trump in 2016. 

"Not raising our hands is not an indication of an answer, sir," said Harvard Law professor Noah Feldman. 

Melania TrumpMelania TrumpTrumps light 97th annual National Christmas Tree Trump, first lady take part in National Christmas Tree lighting Capitol Christmas tree lights up Washington MORE slams impeachment witness for Barron joke

4:50 p.m.

First lady Melania Trump criticized one of the legal expert for invoking her son Barron during Wednesday’s testimony, tweeting “a minor child deserves privacy and should be kept out of politics.”

The tweet was a rare public statement from the first lady, who does not often comment publicly. 

Jayapal hits Gaetz for questioning witnesses’ past donations

4:11 p.m.

Judiciary Committee member Pramila JayapalPramila JayapalHouse moves ahead on long-stalled resolution supporting two states for Israelis and Palestinians Overnight Health Care — Presented by Johnson & Johnson — Virginia moves to suspend Medicaid work rules | Powerful House panel sets 'Medicare for All' hearing | Hospitals sue over Trump price rule | FDA official grilled on vaping policy Jayapal pushes back on Gaetz's questioning of impeachment witness donations to Democrats MORE (D-Wash.) pushed back on panel Republican Matt GaetzMatthew (Matt) GaetzTrade deal talks expand as Congress debates tech legal shield Three legal scholars say Trump should be impeached; one thinks otherwise George Conway calls out Melania Trump after she criticizes impeachment witness: 'You're amplifying what was a nothingburger reference' MORE's (Fla.) questioning of impeachment witnesses' donations to Democrats during Wednesday's hearing. 

"You know who else has donated to Democrats? @RealDonaldTrump," Jayapal tweeted after Gaetz pressed the three witnesses invited by Democrats about their past donations. 

"These are some of the top Constitutional scholars in the country. Experts with long records of fairness & fidelity to the law. If this is the @HouseGOP defense, President Trump is in deep trouble," she added.

Swalwell says Turley is present as GOP 'defense attorney'

4:10 p.m.

Rep. Eric SwalwellEric Michael SwalwellDemocrats could introduce articles of impeachment next week The Hill's Morning Report - Dem dilemma on articles of impeachment Democrats debate scope of impeachment charges MORE (D-Calif.) said that law professor Jonathan Turley of George Washington University was at the hearing to serve as a “defense attorney” for Trump, a suggestion Turley rejected.

“As a former prosecutor, I recognize a defense attorney trying to represent their client, especially one who has very little to work with in the way of facts and today you’re representing the Republicans in their defense of the president,” Swalwell said.

“That’s not my intention, sir,” responded Turley, who is also a contributor for The Hill.

Swalwell brought up Turley’s representation of former Judge Thomas Porteous of the Eastern District of Louisiana, who was impeached and removed from office on charges of perjury and “engaging in a pattern of conduct that is incompatible with the trust and confidence placed in him as a Federal judge” in 2010.

“Thankfully, that Senate did not buy your argument that a federal judge should not be removed if he is not charged criminally and respectfully, professor, we don’t buy it either,” Swalwell said.

Gaetz spars with Stanford professor on remarks about Trump's son, donations to Dems

3:58 p.m.

Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) clashed with law professor Pamela Karlan during Wednesday's hearing, pressing her on her past donations to Democratic candidates and excoriating her for invoking 13-year-old Barron Trump earlier in her testimony.

"When you invoke the president’s son's name here, when you try to make a little joke out of referencing Barron Trump, that does not lend credibility to your argument," Gaetz said. "It makes you look mean."

Karlan earlier in the hearing told lawmakers that the Constitution does not grant lawmakers the power to bestow nobility, quipping that Trump could name his son Barron but could not make him a baron.

Gaetz's line of questioning reflected a concerted effort by Trump's allies to paint Karlan and other Democratic witnesses as biased. The congressman seized on donations the professor made to Democratic candidates and highlighted her past comments that he portrayed as condescending to conservatives.

Karlan confirmed that she has donated $1,000 to Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenTrump to hold campaign rally in Michigan Castro hits fundraising threshold for December debate Buttigieg: Harris 'deserves to be under anybody's consideration' for vice president MORE (D-Mass.), $1,200 to former President Obama and $2,000 to Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonTrump to hold campaign rally in Michigan Saagar Enjeti ponders Hillary Clinton's 2020 plans Political ad spending set to explode in 2020 MORE, who ran against Trump in 2016.

The congressman then read a quote from Karlan in which she said "liberals tend to cluster more. Conservatives, especially very conservative people, tend to spread out more, perhaps because they don’t even want to be around themselves."

Karlan acknowledged making the comments, but sought to explain that with proper context she was not speaking derisively about conservatives. As she attempted to elaborate, Gaetz raised his voice and cut her off.

"You don’t get to interrupt me on this time," he said.

Committee members spar over ‘will of the people’ in regards to impeachment

3:55 p.m.

Reps. Hakeem JeffriesHakeem Sekou JeffriesLive coverage: Witnesses say Trump committed impeachable offenses Pelosi faces tough choices on impeachment managers Lawmakers turn attention to potential witnesses at Judiciary impeachment hearings MORE (D-N.Y.) and Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) sparred during the hearing over the role the “will of the people” has played in regards to the impeachment inquiry against Trump.

Jeffries cited Democrats taking over the majority of the House of Representatives earlier this year as a result of the 2018 midterm elections as pointing to the “will of the people” being to place a check on Trump’s power.

“The will of the people elected a House that would not function as a wholly owned subsidiary of this administration,” Jeffries said. “The will of the people elected a House that understands we are a separate and co-equal branch of government. The will of the people elected a House that understands we have a constitutional responsibility to serve as a check and balance on an out of control executive branch.”

Jeffries emphasized that “the president abused his power, and must be held accountable. No one is above the law. America must remain the last, best hope on earth.”

Gaetz pushed back against those comments, saying that the “will of the people also elected Donald Trump to be the president of the United States.”

“We understand the fact that in 2018, you took the House of Representatives, and we haven’t spent our time during your tenure in power trying to remove the Speaker of the House, trying to delegitimize you ability to govern, frankly we’d love to govern with you,” Gaetz said. “It’s the will of the people you ignore when you continue down this terrible road of impeachment.”

Karlan: Framers would find it 'unacceptable' to ask for foreign help in election

3:50 p.m.

Asked by Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) whether the Founding Fathers would have considered it inappropriate to pressure a foreign nation for help in a presidential election, professor Pamala Karlan of Stanford Law School said asking for it in the first place would have been considered inappropriate.

“I think they’d find it unacceptable for a president to ask a foreign government to help them, whether they put pressure on them or not,” Karlan said.

“Foreign nations don’t have our interests at heart, they have their interests at heart,” she added, noting, as Jeffries did, that foreign interference and influence were top concerns of the founders.

Later, under questioning by Rep. David Ciccilline (D-R.I.), Karlan noted that the reason for this concern had shifted somewhat, and that in the 18th century it was largely to do with the U.S.’ weakness relative to world powers, whereas in the modern era “the concern is a little different, which is that it will interfere with us making the decisions that are best for us as Americans.” 

Gohmert thanks Nadler for 'bringing down the gavel hard' at the end of his questioning time

3:15 p.m.

Rep. Louie GohmertLouis (Louie) Buller GohmertLive coverage: Witnesses say Trump committed impeachable offenses Lawmakers to watch during Wednesday's impeachment hearing Live coverage: House holds first public impeachment hearing MORE (R-Texas) sarcastically thanked Nadler for “bringing down the gavel” to end his questioning time after Gohmert strongly criticized the impeachment process.

Gohmert was given five minutes to question witnesses at the hearing, though he did not ask any questions during his time and used it instead to express his disapproval with the impeachment process and to ask that the committee bring in several more witnesses to testify.

Nadler gaveled him out at five minutes, with Gohmert saying in a sarcastic tone “thanks for bringing down the gavel hard, that was nice.”

Prior to being gaveled out, Gohmert had described the hearing as “indicative of the indecency to which we’ve come,” citing what he described as a lack of evidence to support impeaching Trump as compared to the evidence used during the impeachment inquiry into then-President Clinton. 

“To start this hearing with the chairman of the committee saying that the facts are undisputed, the only thing that is disputed more than the facts in this case is the statement that the facts are undisputed, they are absolutely disputed, and the evidence is a bunch of hearsay on hearsay,” Gohmert said.

He argued that “you can’t rely on hearsay,” and asked that witnesses including Alexandra Chalupa, a former Democratic National Committee contractor, be called in to testify before the committee. 

“We are not having a factual hearing until we have these people that are at the bottom of every fact of this investigation,” Gohmert said. 

Earlier in the hearing, Republicans on the committee had requested a “minority day of hearings” to allow for various witnesses that Republicans have urged Democrats to bring in to testify, and asked that this occur prior to a committee vote on articles of impeachment. Nadler said that the committee would confer on whether to allow this at a later time.

Karlan: 'While the president can name his son Barron, he can't make him a baron'

2:55 p.m.

Professor Pamela Karlan of Stanford Law School said that Trump is not “a king” and is not empowered to “do whatever he want” by Article 2 of the Constitution, saying “while the president can name his son Barron he can’t make him a baron.”

Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee (D-Texas) asked Karlan “what comparisons can we make between kings that [the Founding Fathers] were afraid of and the president’s conduct today?”

In response, Karlan said “kings could do no wrong, because their word was law and, contrary to what President Trump has said, Article 2 does not allow him to do whatever he wants.”

“The Constitution says there can be no titles of nobility so while the president can name his son Barron he can’t make him a baron,” she added.

The remarks drew swift pushback from Trump's 2020 campaign, which said that the "Democrats have disgraced themselves by giving a platform to this unhinged, petty kook."

Karlan also agreed with Jackson-Lee that, contrary to Republican defenses of Trump, the evidence against him was not “wafer-thin,” which Jackson-Lee illustrated by presenting a binder containing special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerTrump says he'll release financial records before election, knocks Dems' efforts House impeachment hearings: The witch hunt continues Speier says impeachment inquiry shows 'very strong case of bribery' by Trump MORE’s full report on Russian election interference and Trump’s efforts to obstruct it.

“Obviously it’s not wafer-thin,” Karlan said, adding “the strength of the record is not just in the July 25 call” with Ukrainian President Volodymr Zelensky.

“I think the way you need to ask about this is, how does it fit into the pattern of behavior by the president because what you’re really doing is you’re drawing inferences here,” she said, and “the record supports the inference” that Trump asked Zelensky for a political favor.

House lawmaker asks Graham to subpoena Schiff's phone records

2:43 p.m.

A House Republican is pressing Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamGOP senator blocks Armenian genocide resolution Hannity slams Stern for Clinton interview: 'Not the guy I grew up listening to' The Hill's Morning Report - Dem dilemma on articles of impeachment MORE (R-S.C.) to subpoena the call records of top Democrats and the Ukrainian controversy whistleblower’s lawyer, signaling a new GOP-line of defense amid the impeachment inquiry.

Rep. Jim Banks (R-Ind.), one of Trump’s House allies, asked Graham in a letter Wednesday to subpoena AT&T for the call records of House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), former Vice President Hunter Biden and his son, Hunter Biden, as well as the attorney for Ukraine whistleblower, Mark Zaid.

“Chairman, I urge you to utilize your subpoena power as Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee and obtain call records for the following individuals: Rep. Adam Schiff, The whistleblower’s lawyer Mark Zaid, Former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenTrump to hold campaign rally in Michigan Castro hits fundraising threshold for December debate Buttigieg draws fresh scrutiny, attacks in sprint to Iowa MORE, and Hunter Biden,” Banks wrote to Graham.

“This quixotic impeachment inquiry must be shelved, Mr. Chairman. And Rep. Adam Schiff should be held to the same standard to which he holds others. It is time to see his phone records,” he continued. 

Green says Trump's 'racism' should be part of impeachment

2:15 p.m.

One of the first House Democrats to call for Trump's impeachment urged his colleagues on Wednesday to include instances of Trump's actions and rhetoric inflaming racial tensions in any upcoming articles of impeachment.

Rep. Al GreenAlexander (Al) N. GreenHouse sets up Monday hearing to hear evidence on Trump impeachment The Hill's Morning Report - Dem dilemma on articles of impeachment Democrats debate scope of impeachment charges MORE (D-Texas) sent a memo to fellow lawmakers arguing that Trump's "impeachable racist, anti-Semitic, Islamophobic, transphobic, xenophobic language instigating enmity and inciting violence within our society" should be taken under consideration, as he has argued since backing impeachment in 2017.

Green, a member of the Congressional Black Caucus, pointed to the House passage of a resolution in July condemning Trump's tweets urging four female progressive freshman lawmakers “go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came.”

"Why should we pass a resolution condemning the president’s racist comments and then get back to racism as usual, where racism is more of a talking point than an action item?" he wrote.

Collins: 'Amazing' that Democrats putting Founding Fathers in the impeachment jury

1:20 p.m.

Committee ranking member Doug Collins (R-Ga.) strongly criticized panel Democrats and witnesses for bringing up the Founding Fathers in debating whether Trump had committed impeachable offenses. 

“This just keeps getting more amazing, I think we just put into the jury pool the Founding Fathers and said ‘what would they think,’ I don’t think we have any idea what they would think, in all due respect, with this,” Collins said.

His comments were made immediately after Nadler questioned law professor Noah Feldman on how he believed the founders would have viewed Trump’s actions in regards to Ukraine.

Feldman answered that he believed “the framers would identify President Trump’s conduct as exactly the kind of abuse of office, high crime and misdemeanor, that they were worried about, and they would want the House of Representatives to take appropriate action and to impeach.”

Collins strongly objected. 

“To in some way insinuate on a live mic with a lot of people listening that the Founding Fathers would have found President Trump guilty is just simply malpractice with these facts before us, that is just simply pandering to a camera, that is simply just not right,” he said.

Feldman responds to Turley: 'Bribery had a clear meaning to the framers'

1:15 p.m.

Nadler questioned witness Noah Feldman about fellow law professor Jonathan Turley’s earlier answers on the Founding Fathers’ definition of bribery.

“Bribery had a clear meaning to the framers, it was when the president, using the power of his office, solicits or receives something of personal value from someone affected by his official powers,” Feldman answered.

“The Constitution specifies bribery as a ground of impeachment as it specifies other high crimes and misdemeanors. Bribery had a clear meaning,” he added.

Turley, the only witness called by Republicans, had said that Trump’s actions did not rise to the legal definition of bribery.

“If the House believes the president solicited something of value in the form of investigations or announcement of investigations, and that he did so corruptly for personal gain, that would constitute bribery under the meaning of the Constitution, and it would not be lawless. It would be bribery under the law,” Feldman said.

Turley accuses Democrats of abuse of power in demanding Trump turn over information

12:50 p.m.

Republican-called witness Jonathan Turley pushed back against House Democrats for using Trump’s refusal to turn over certain information related to the impeachment inquiry as a reason to impeach him, citing the previous impeachment investigation into former President Richard Nixon. 

Turley said he had always been “critical” of the third article of impeachment brought against Nixon, which charged that Nixon had violated his oath of office by not turning over requested material. 

Turley argued that the president should be allowed to claim executive privilege in not turning over information — and be allowed to take this to court to decide. 

“President Trump has gone to the courts. He’s allowed to do that, we have three branches, not two,” Turley said. 

Turley accused House Democrats of using the argument that “when we demand information from another branch, it must be turned over or we’ll impeach you in record time.”

He added that it created a “perfect storm” for impeachment.

“You set an incredibly short period, demand a huge amount of information, and when the president goes to court, you then impeach him,” Turley said. “Now does that track with what you’ve heard about impeachment? Does that track with the rule of law that we’ve talked about?”

Turley pointed to the decision by the Supreme Court to order Nixon to turn over information related to his impeachment inquiry, and noted that in hearing the case, the high court acknowledged that “there are executive privilege arguments that can be made.”

House majority leader: Impeachment 'not driven by polls'

12:40 p.m.

House Majority Leader Steny HoyerSteny Hamilton HoyerOvernight Health Care: House to vote next week on drug prices bill | Conway says Trump trying to find 'balance' on youth vaping | US spent trillion on hospitals in 2018 House to vote next week on sweeping bill to lower drug prices Congress races to beat deadline on shutdown MORE (D-Md.) said that the lack of a shift in public opinion on impeaching President Trump since public hearings began last month isn't going to change Democrats' course on impeachment.

Polling shows that Americans' views on impeachment have hardly budged through most of last month despite a whirlwind series of public hearings with witnesses speaking to Trump's dealings with Ukraine.

Close to half of Americans support impeachment in most polls, but the issue remains largely entrenched along party lines.

Hoyer maintained that the impeachment inquiry into whether Trump pressured the Ukrainian government to investigate his political opponents is a matter of "conscience," even if Americans remain divided.

"This is not driven by polls. This is driven by our responsibility," Hoyer told reporters in the Capitol.

"I think they're going to vote what they think is their duty to the Constitution," he said of lawmakers.

Senate GOP meets with White House counsel

12:37 p.m.

Senate Republicans met with White House counsel Pat Cipollone over lunch Wednesday to discuss strategy for an upcoming Senate impeachment trial in an effort to shore up Trump’s legal and political defenses.

Republican lawmakers familiar with the preparations for Trump’s Senate trial describe Cipollone as the “quarterback” in charge of the legal strategy, even while Trump himself has handled much of the political and communications strategy.

The lunch meeting, hosted by Senate Republican Steering Committee Chairman Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeHillicon Valley: Pelosi works to remove legal protections for tech companies from USMCA | Treasury sanctions Russian group over 0 million hack | Facebook sues Chinese individuals for ad fraud | Huawei takes legal action against FCC Senators defend bipartisan bill on facial recognition as cities crack down Trump's legal team huddles with Senate Republicans MORE (R-Utah), gave the White House counsel a chance to gauge support for Trump within the conference and get a better feel for how a trial might play out.

It also gave the counsel a chance to make arguments about what many Republicans perceive as the lack of fairness in the House impeachment process.

Turley contradicts Schiff on definition of bribery

12:35 p.m.

Professor Jonathan Turley of George Washington University Law School contradicted other the witnesses’ claims that Trump’s conduct was a “clear case” of bribery.

“I respect my colleagues, I know all of them and I consider them friends… We have fundamental differences and I’d like to start with the issue of bribery,” said Turley, who is also a contributor to The Hill.

Turley broke with Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff’s (D-Calif.) assertion that Trump’s dealings with Ukraine would be considered bribery in the 18th century.

“Putting aside Mr. Schiff’s turn towards originalism — I think it might come as a relief to him and his supporters that his career will be a short one,” Turley quipped. “There is not an originalist future in that argument … the bribery theory being put forward was as flawed as the 18th century as it is in this century.”

In the time of the Founding Fathers, Turley said, “bribery was not this overarching standard that Chairman Schiff indicated.”

“We’re all channeling the intent of the framers, and that’s a dangerous thing to do… the only thing more dangerous is to stand between Congress and an impeachment as an academic,” he added.

White House dismisses 'known biases' of Dem witnesses

12:11 p.m.

White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham slammed the hearing as it moved into a short recess, arguing that the Democratic witnesses have "known biases" against the president that undermined the proceedings.

"Not only is @POTUS given no rights in this process, the Dems' 'witnesses' made up their minds long before today," Grisham tweeted. "The people of this country are being cheated of a Congress who works for them."

Trump's allies have seized on allegations of bias against the three Democratic witnesses, noting that professor Pamela Karlan had donated to Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and describing Noah Feldman and Michael Gerhardt as liberal professors from "coastal universities."

The White House is likely to hammer those allegations throughout the remainder of the hearing and instead highlight professor Jonathan Turley's testimony that he would not move forward with impeachment at this point.

Democrats use clips of Trump to make their case

12:01 p.m.

Democrats played clips of Trump as they questioned witnesses about whether he engaged in acts of obstruction.

“We’re fighting all the subpoenas,” Trump said in one of the video clips played at the hearing, which was taken from remarks he made at the White House in April declining to cooperate with congressional investigations into his administration.

“Then I have an Article II where I have the right to do whatever I want as president,” Trump said in the second clip taken from a July speech at a Turning Point USA conference.

Norm Eisen, a counsel for Democrats, played the clips during questioning of Noah Feldman, a Harvard University law professor, using them to elicit answers about Trump's potentially obstructive conduct.

Feldman was among three witnesses who testified Wednesday that Trump committed impeachable offenses. Another constitutional law expert called by Republicans cautioned against impeachment during the hearing.

Feldman said Wednesday that Trump was robbing the House of Representatives of its “basic constitutional power of impeachment” and putting himself “above the law” by refusing to cooperate in the impeachment inquiry.

“A president who will not cooperate in an impeachment inquiry is putting himself above the law,” Feldman testified. “The core of an impeachable offense.”

Feldman cites meeting Founding Fathers in afterlife as reason to move forward with impeachment

11:58 a.m.

Law professor Noah Feldman testified in support of the House voting to impeach Trump, citing the need to tell Founding Fathers such as Alexander Hamilton and James Madison that Congress “followed the guidance of the framers,” should lawmakers meet them in heaven.

“Someday we will no longer be alive, and we will go wherever it is we go, the good place, or the other place, and we may meet there Madison and Hamilton, and they will ask us, when the president of the United States acted to corrupt the structure of the Republic, what did you do?”

Feldman argued that “our answer to that question must be that we followed the guidance of the framers, and it must be that if the evidence supports that conclusion that the House of Representatives move to impeach him.”

Feldman added that the current impeachment inquiry over Trump allegedly soliciting foreign assistance in an election is “precisely the situation the framers anticipated” when writing the Constitution, and said it is “very unusual for the framers predictions to come true that precisely.”

Karlan testifies that Trump committed bribery according to prior statute

11:55 a.m.

Law professor Pamela Karlan testified that Trump did commit constitutional bribery if the allegations against him in the impeachment inquiry are true.

When asked by Democratic panel counsel Norman Eisen whether there was evidence of Trump committing the “high crime and misdemeanor of constitutional bribery,” Karlan answered in the affirmative.

“If you conclude that he asked for the investigation of Vice President [Joe] Biden and his son for political reasons, that is to aid his reelection, then yes, you have bribery here,” Karlan said.

Karlan noted that her assessment of this was based on the transcript of Trump’s call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in July, which originally kicked off the impeachment inquiry.

Karlan also pointed to past bribery statute in the 18th century to inform her opinion.

“What they were understanding then was the idea that when you took private benefits, or when you asked for private benefits, in return for an official act, or somebody gave them to you to influence an official act, that was bribery,” she said.

Democratic witnesses agree Trump committed impeachable offenses 

11:42 a.m.

All three of the witnesses called by Democrats agreed when asked if Trump has committed impeachable offenses.

Asked if the Intelligence Committee’s investigations indicated Trump has committed high crimes and misdemeanors, professor Noah Feldman responded, “Based on that evidence and those findings, the president did commit an impeachable abuse of office.”

Fellow law professor Pamela Karlan simply responded “same answer,” while Michael Gerhardt said “we three are unanimous."

"If what we are talking about is not impeachable, then nothing is impeachable," Gerhardt said, noting that the "boundaries" set up by constitution will "evaporate."

"That is a danger to all of us," he said.

Professor Jonathan Turley, the Republican witness and a contributor to The Hill, was not directly asked whether he believed Trump had committed impeachable offenses. 

Democrats unveil three possible impeachment offenses

11:40 a.m.

House Democrats unveiled a sign featuring three possible impeachment offenses, signaling how they plan to go after Trump in arguing that he is unfit for office.

Among the impeachable offenses, Democrats listed “Abuse of Power & Bribery,” “Obstruction of Congress,” and “Obstruction of Justice” on signs displayed in the hearing room.

Democratic committee counsel Norman Eisen then went through a line of questioning, mostly engaging the three witnesses that Democrats invited, about whether they believe Trump has committed these impeachable offenses. 

Feldman, when asked why he concluded Trump’s actions had reached the level of high crimes and misdemeanors, described how the president used his office for personal gain. Karlan later said she considered the president’s demands of Ukraine to be bribery.

And, during this questioning, Democrats shortly laid out three actions they believed fall under high crimes and misdemeanors: abuse of power, betrayal of the national interest and corruption of elections.

Republicans ask to subpoena whistleblower to testify

11:22 a.m.

Rep. Guy ReschenthalerGuy ReschenthalerLive coverage: Witnesses say Trump committed impeachable offenses House passes sweeping budget, debt limit deal Live coverage: Mueller testifies before Congress MORE (R-Pa.) requested that the committee subpoena the anonymous whistleblower who initially raised concerns about Trump’s dealings with Ukraine to testify in executive session, with the committee voting his motion down.

“I move to subpoena the individual commonly referred to as the whistleblower,” Reschenthaler said immediately after the witnesses finished giving opening statements. “I ask to do this in executive session.”

Nadler responded by calling a vote on tabling this motion, which quickly turned into a roll-call vote after one was requested by committee Republicans.

Members voted along party lines, with the committee approving the motion to table the request for a later time by a vote of 24-17. 

A Republican Judiciary Committee aide told The Hill in a statement that the motion to subpoena the whistleblower “reflects the fact that the Judiciary Committee has the procedural means to accommodate the whistleblower’s interest in protecting his/her identity while accommodating Congress’s need to investigate the facts of this impeachment case.”

The aide added that “executive session hearings have been used for decades to handle matters in secret. In fact, the votes and transcripts from the executive session meetings during the Clinton impeachment remain a secret to this day and cannot be released absent a vote of the committee.” 

Turley: 'Even my dog seems mad'

11:20 a.m.

George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley, who was invited to testify in Wednesday's hearing by Republicans, said in his opening statement that even his dog, a Goldendoodle named Luna, seems angry in the current political climate.

Turley, a contributor to The Hill, argued in his opening statement that impeachment would set a "dangerous precedent."

"I get it. You are mad. The president is mad. My Democratic friends are mad. My Republican friends are mad. My wife is mad. My kids are mad. Even my dog seems mad. And Luna is a Goldendoodle and they don't get mad," he said, prompting laughter. 

"We're all mad. Where has that taken us? Will a slipshod impeachment make us less mad? Will it only give an invitation for the madness to follow in every future administration?" he added.

GOP witness says proceedings based on ‘thinnest evidentiary record’

11:17 a.m.

George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley, the only witness at Wednesday's impeachment hearing to be invited by Republicans, argued in his opening statement that Democrats have not produced the evidence to justify impeaching Trump.

Turley, a professor of public interest law, said in his opening remarks that a Trump impeachment would be based on the “thinnest evidentiary record.”

“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 said.

Turley, who is also a contributor to The Hill, added that if this impeachment went through, it would set a “dangerous precedent” for future presidents in an increasingly partisan political environment.

Trump denounces process from London

11:09 a.m.

Trump on Wednesday questioned whether Democrats love the country in light of the ongoing impeachment inquiry in the House.

The president tore into Democrats during a meeting with the Italian prime minister at a NATO gathering in London. The House Judiciary Committee was simultaneously holding a hearing on impeachable offenses with constitutional law experts as Trump spoke.

"These people, you almost question whether or not they love our country and that’s a very, very serious thing: Do they in fact love our country?" Trump said, criticizing the timing of the hearing.

The president reiterated his belief that the impeachment proceedings will benefit Republicans politically in the 2020 election. Polling has shown voters are split on whether they support impeaching Trump.


Green rips lack of diversity in Judiciary’s witnesses

10:58 a.m.

Rep. Al Green (D-Texas) slammed the Judiciary Committee from the House floor for failing to have a diverse panel of witnesses during its first impeachment hearing. 

Green, one of the most vocal supporters of impeaching Trump, argued it was a misstep on behalf of the panel to bring in four constitutional law experts — Noah Feldman, a professor at Harvard Law School and director of the Julis-Rabinowitz Program on Jewish and Israeli Law; Pamela Karlan, a professor of public interest law at Stanford Law School; Michael Gerhardt, a professor at the University of North Carolina School of Law; and Jonathan Turley, a professor of public interest law at George Washington University Law School — without including people of color. 

“It hurts my heart, Mr. Speaker, to see the Judiciary Committee hearing experts on the topic of impeachment, one of the seminal issues of this Congress. Hearing experts, Mr. Speaker, and not one person of color among the experts,” Green said in a floor speech.  

“What subliminal message are we sending to the world when we have experts but not one person of color? Are we saying that there are no people of color who are experts on this topic of impeachment? What is the message that we're sending? Mr. Speaker, if I am wrong, I will apologize, but if the committee is wrong, if the Congress is wrong, what will it do?” 


Karlan says she is ‘insulted’ by implication she did not read earlier witness testimony

10:52 a.m.

Professor Pamela S. Karlan of Stanford Law School deviated from her prepared opening remarks to push back on the notion that she had not read earlier witness testimony or researched the facts of the case before appearing.

“Here, Mr. Collins, I would like to say to you, sir, that I read transcripts of every one of the witnesses who appeared in the live hearing, because I would not speak about these things without reviewing the facts, so I’m insulted by the suggestion that as a law professor I don’t care about those facts,” she said in response to remarks from ranking member Doug Collins (R-Ga.).

Karlan then resumed her opening statement as written.

“Everything I read about our Constitution and its values, and my review of the evidentiary record, tells me that when President Trump invited — indeed, demanded — foreign involvement in our upcoming election, he struck at the very heart of what makes this country the ‘republic’ to which we pledge allegiance,” she continued.

First witness says Trump’s actions 'clearly' constitute 'high crimes and misdemeanors'

10:48 a.m.

Noah Feldman, a professor at Harvard Law School, said in his opening statement that Trump’s conduct “clearly constitutes” the constitutional standard for “high crimes and misdemeanors,” because Trump “was using his office to seek a personal political and electoral advantage over his political rival, former Vice President Joe Biden, and over the Democratic Party.”

“According to the testimony presented to the House, the solicitation sought to gain an advantage that was personal to the president. This constitutes a corrupt abuse of the power of the presidency,” Feldman said. “It embodies the framers’ central worry that a sitting president would ‘spare no efforts or means whatever to get himself reelected.’”

Witnesses sworn in

10:35 a.m.

The four legal experts stood to take the oath, in which they pledged to tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth as they testify before the committee.

Democrats table GOP motion to have Schiff testify

10:31 a.m.

Judiciary Democrats voted along party lines to table a GOP motion calling for House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) to testify before the panel as part of the impeachment inquiry.

Democrats, who have the majority power, shot down the motion raised by Rep. Doug Collins (Ga.), the top Republican on the panel.

Republicans have long called for Schiff to testify over revelations that a staffer on his committee had been approached by the Ukraine whistleblower after Democrats announced an investigation into Trump’s contacts with Kyiv.

Nadler added after the motion was raised that the matter is not up for debate.

Collins blasts impeachment proceedings as a ‘partisan coup d'état’ in opening remarks

10:29 a.m.

House Judiciary Committee ranking member Doug Collins (R-Ga.) blasted the impeachment inquiry in his opening remarks on Wednesday, comparing it unfavorably to past impeachment proceedings and labeling it a “sham” and a “partisan coup d'état.”

“This is not an impeachment, this is a simple railroad job, and today’s is a waste of time, because this is where we are at,” Collins said. “It didn’t start with Mueller, it didn’t start with a phone call, you know where this started, it started with tears in Brooklyn in November 2016 when an election was lost,” he added, referring to then-Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s campaign.

Collins also accused Democrats on the committee of already drafting articles of impeachment and said the panel was only holding hearings in order to serve as a “rubber stamp” for the articles while moving forward at too fast a pace.

“That is what this committee values — time — they want to do it before the end of the year,” Collins said of impeachment proceedings. “The clock and the calendar are what is driving impeachment, not the facts.”

Collins emphasized that “Democrats’ miserable record and utter lack of fundamental fairness will doom any articles referred to the Senate, but immense damage will already have been inflicted upon the American people and our political system.”

Nadler weaves Mueller report into impeachment argument in opening remarks

10:28 a.m.

Nadler included accusations of obstruction from former special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation in his opening statement, saying that they were the primer for Trump’s contacts with the Ukrainian president.

The Judiciary chairman in particular highlighted the report’s findings that the Trump campaign welcomed help from the Kremlin in 2016, though it did not uncover evidence that they coordinated directly.

"President Trump welcomed foreign interference in the 2016 election. He demanded it for the 2020 election. In both cases, he got caught. And in both cases, he did everything in his power to prevent the American people from learning the truth about his conduct,” Nadler said in his opening statement.

"Ignoring that warning, President Trump called the Ukrainian president the very next day to ask him to investigate the president’s political opponent,” he continued.

Nadler framed the president’s actions as laid out in the Mueller report and his contacts with Ukraine as a threat to make the case that Trump is not fit for office.

"We are all aware that the next election is looming, but we cannot wait for the election to address the present crisis. The integrity of that election is the very thing at stake,” Nadler continued.

"The president has shown us his pattern of conduct. If we do not act to hold him in check — now — President Trump will almost certainly try again to solicit interference in the election for his personal, political benefit.”

He argued that Trump not only sought to obstruct the Mueller report, but also Democrats’ impeachment inquiry by blocking the testimonies of a dozen Trump officials — including key witnesses with direct witnesses — from testifying as part of Democrats’ impeachment inquiry.

"Then, as now, this administration’s level of obstruction is without precedent,” Nadler said.

Republicans ask for minority day of hearings

10:08 a.m.

Rep. Jim SensenbrennerFrank (Jim) James SensenbrennerDoug Collins wants hearing with GOP witnesses before articles of impeachment Live coverage: Witnesses say Trump committed impeachable offenses Amash: Some retiring GOP lawmakers may reenter politics once Trump is gone MORE (R-Wis.) interrupted Nadler immediately after he gaveled the hearing open to request a “minority day of hearings.”

“I am furnishing you with a demand for a minority day of hearings on this subject, signed by all of the Republican members of the committee, and I would request that you set this date before the committee votes on any articles of impeachment.”

Nadler responded that “we will confer and rule on this later” and moved on to his opening statement.

Sensenbrenner’s request echoed one repeatedly made by Republican members of the House Intelligence Committee during impeachment hearings last month.

Nadler gavels in the hearing

10:07 a.m.

Nadler gaveled in the hearing, but he was quickly interrupted by Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.), who raised an objection about having a minority day of hearings.

The witnesses arrive

10:04 a.m.

The set of four witnesses — three invited by Democrats and one by Republicans — quietly took their seats, talking amicably among one another as they got seated.

Cameras captured their entrances as they prepared to deliver testimony before the Judiciary Committee in its first hearing on the Ukraine controversy.

Pence confers with GOP

9:37 a.m.

Vice President Pence made an appearance at the House GOP conference meeting ahead of the Judiciary hearing on Wednesday morning.

According to a source in the room, Pence discussed “opportunity costs and what’s not getting done,” such as work on Trump’s new North American trade deal.

Witness says Trump obstruction worse than any other president's

9:23 a.m.

Democratic witnesses in their statements to the Judiciary Committee are offering a scathing indictment of Trump's actions. 

In his testimony, Michael Gerhardt of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill said the record indicates Trump has committed impeachable offenses including obstruction of justice, obstruction of Congress and bribery.

“The gravity of the president’s misconduct is apparent when we compare it to the misconduct of the one president who resigned from office to avoid certain impeachment, conviction and removal,” Gerhardt said in his opening statement.

He also said that while articles of impeachment against President Nixon in his view proved that Nixon had personally and through subordinates stonewalled the investigation of the Watergate break-in, “the Mueller report found at least five instances” of obstruction of the Justice Department investigation."

“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,” he added.

 

Judiciary Democrat fearful Republicans will treat impeachment hearing like 'game'

8:37 a.m.

Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), a member of the House Judiciary Committee, said early Wednesday that she is fearful Republican members of the panel will treat its first impeachment hearing like a “game.”

Jayapal told CNN's "New Day" that she is worried about some of the Republican members of the committee that are “hellbent on defending the president at any cost.”

She also said she thinks some GOP lawmakers “are going to try and make chaos” at the hearing.

“We are in a serious moment,” she said. “I hope the Republicans don't treat this as a game, but I'm afraid that they might."

 

GOP witness: Impeaching Trump over Ukraine allegations would be historic mistake

8:23 a.m.

A Republican witness scheduled to testify before the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday will argue that impeaching Trump over the Ukraine allegations would be a historic mistake.

"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," Jonathan Turley, a professor of public interest law at George Washington University Law School, will say, according to his prepared testimony.

"That does not bode well for future presidents who are working in a country often sharply and, at times, bitterly divided," Turley, who is also an opinion contributor for The Hill, will add.

 

Catch up on our recent coverage:

 

Democrats hit gas on impeachment

House Democrats are keeping their foot on the gas pedal of their fast-moving impeachment effort against President Trump.

The House Intelligence Committee’s report accusing Trump of abusing his power and obstructing the panel’s eight-week probe injected fresh urgency and momentum into the impeachment push, just as the process shifts to the House Judiciary Committee.

Some Democrats want to go even faster, expressing doubt about whether Judiciary hearings — which kick off Wednesday morning with a panel of constitutional law scholars — are even needed.

 

House Intelligence report says Trump abused power

Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee on Tuesday unveiled the much-awaited findings of their weeks-long impeachment investigation, laying out in blow-by-blow detail the basis for their allegations that President Trump abused the power of his office.

The 300-page report does not recommend specific articles of impeachment — leaving those decisions to the Judiciary Committee — but it paints a damning portrait of Trump’s dealings with Ukraine and all but asserts that those actions warrant his removal from office.