The House Judiciary Committee kicked off its first hearing of the impeachment inquiry on Wednesday with an exploration of the constitutional grounds for impeachment, including what constitutes bribery, high crimes and misdemeanors and whether President Donald Trump's actions meet those definitions.
The witnesses included Harvard law professor Noah Feldman; Stanford law professor Pamela Karlan; University of North Carolina law professor Michael Gerhardt; and George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley. The first three witnesses were asked to testify by the committee's Democrats, and Turley was called by the panel's Republican members.
Highlights from the Judiciary hearing:
Read our 10 takeaways from the impeachment hearing so far — in plain English
- There has been talk of originalism, the Founding Fathers, King George III and the Secret Treaty of Dover — and someone used the word "necromancy."
GOP lawmakers trash impeachment process
- Rep. Gaetz and witness Karlan trade barbs, while Rep. Buck questions whether other presidents should have been impeached.
Three of four witnesses say Trump committed impeachable offenses
- Feldman says "Trump has committed high crimes and misdemeanors." Karlan 'insulted' by Collins' 'suggestion I don't care about the facts.' Gerhardt says if you don't impeach Trump, impeachment has no meaning.
- But Turley says impeachment is wrong because it's being rushed, not because Trump is right, and takes issue with bribery and obstruction allegations. Who is the lone GOP witness?
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Who are the witnesses in the House Judiciary impeachment hearing?
The House Judiciary Committee’s Wednesday hearing, "The Impeachment Inquiry into President Donald J. Trump: Constitutional Grounds for Presidential Impeachment," will feature four witnesses.
Here’s a look at all four:
Feldman is Felix Frankfurter Professor of Law at Harvard Law School, where he’s also the director of the Julis-Rabinowitz Program on Jewish and Israeli Law. A Rhodes scholar who got his law degree from Yale Law School, Feldman once clerked for Supreme Court Justice David Souter. He’s also written eight books, including one on James Madison, a founding father who advocated for including an impeachment clause in the U.S. Constitution.
In addition to being an expert on the U.S. Constitution, Feldman was an adviser to the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq in 2003, advising on the drafting of an interim constitution.
He’s written opinion articles on the impeachment proceedings for Bloomberg View, where he’s called Trump’s actions in dealing with Ukraine "brazen" and an "abuse of power."
Pamela S. Karlan
Karlan is the Kenneth and Harle Montgomery Professor of Public Interest Law and Co-Director of the Supreme Court Litigation Clinic at Stanford Law School. A Yale Law School graduate, she's worked for the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and was a Deputy Assistant Attorney General in the Justice Department's civil rights division. She clerked for Supreme Court Justice Harry Blackmun. She teaches constitutional law and his written numerous books and articles on the subject.
Gerhardt is the Burton Craige Distinguished Professor of Jurisprudence at the University of North Carolina School of Law, and is the author of the book, "Impeachment: What Everyone Needs to Know." Gerhardt, who got his law degree from the University of Chicago, has testified more than a dozen times in Congress and was called as a joint legal expert in the impeachment proceedings against Bill Clinton. He has written in defense of how the House has handled the impeachment proceedings against Trump and criticized the White House's decision not to cooperate with the inquiry.
Turley is the J.B. and Maurice C. Shapiro Professor of Public Interest Law at George Washington University Law School. He's the witness that was requested by the committee's Republican minority. Turley, who got his law degree from Northwestern University, represented House Speaker John Boehner and House Republicans in a lawsuit against then-President Barack Obama. Turley, who's appeared as a legal commentator on NBC and MSNBC, also once represented workers who'd been injured while working at the secret military base Area 51 in Nevada. Turley, who's written on constitutional law, has been a frequent critic of the House impeachment inquiry and written that what's been found so far doesn't reach the level of an impeachable offense.