US House Democrats entered a new phase of the impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump on Wednesday as the House Judiciary Committee took over and began hearings to debate and determine possible articles of impeachment.
Wednesday’s hearing, which features four legal scholars, comes after the release of a 300-page draft report from the House Intelligence Committee, which has been holding closed-door and public hearings over recent months, and gathering what it described as “overwhelming evidence” against the president.
The House Judiciary Committee now seeks to answer whether the evidence amounts to impeachment offences. If articles of impeachment are determined, the full House will vote on them. If passed, a trial would be held in the Senate.
Wednesday’s hearing begins a critical phase of the inquiry as Democrats continue to try to convince Americans, who according to the latest opinion poll, remain bitterly divided over whether Trump should be impeached.
As the new stage of the inquiry begins, here are all the latest updates as of Wednesday, November 4:
Collins: Impeachment inquiry is ‘a simple railroad job’
The ranking Republican on the House Judiciary Committee, Representative Doug Collins, blasted the Democrat-lead impeachment inquiry as a partisan attack on the president.
“This is not an impeachment. This is a simple railroad job,” Collins said during his opening statement.
“You just don’t like the guy,” Collins said of the president, “You haven’t liked him since November 2016.”
Nadler: If Trump not held ‘in check’ he will ‘almost certainly’ solicit election interference again
Jerrold Nadler, the Democratic chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, has cast the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump as a race against time as the 2020 elections loom.
Nadler, giving his opening statement on Wednesday, said the facts showed that Trump sought foreign interference for his personal political gain and then obstructed the investigation.
“The President has shown us his pattern of conduct,” Nadler said. “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.”
Nadler added that the House will “move swiftly” to charge the president if they determine he has committed an impeachable offense.
Refresher: What is impeachment?
The founders of the United States included impeachment in the US Constitution as an option for removal of presidents by Congress. Delegates to the constitutional convention of 1787 in Philadelphia agreed that presidents could be removed if found guilty by Congress of “treason, bribery or other high crimes and misdemeanors”.
The sole authority under the Constitution to bring articles of impeachment is vested in the House of Representatives where proceedings can begin in the Judiciary Committee. If the House approves articles of impeachment, or “impeaches” a president, he or she would then be subject to trial in the US Senate.
Read more on the US impeachment process here.
Trump: ‘I really don’t know’ why Giuliani called White House OMB
President Donald Trump has said he doesn’t know why his personal attorney Rudy Giuliani was speaking with the White House’s Office of Management and Budget, a revelation included in the House Intelligence Committee’s impeachment report.
“I really don’t know,” Trump said Wednesday, while attending the NATO summit in England, when reporters asked about a detail included in the report released Tuesday.
Trump encouraged reporters to ask Giuliani about the calls, but claimed they are “no big deal”.
The 300-page House report includes phone records obtained from AT&T and Verizon, showing extensive contact between Giuliani and the White House. On April 24, Giuliani had three calls with a number associated with the Office of Management and Budget, and eight calls with a White House number.
Trump’s comments came shortly before the Judiciary Committee began their first hearing in the investigation.
Trump cancels NATO press conference
US President Donald Trump said he has canceled a news conference meant for the end of the NATO summit in the UK and will return to Washington early.
The news conference, which was scheduled for Wednesday, likely would have taken place while the House Judiciary Committee holds its first hearing in Washington into the impeachment inquiry against him.
Trump impeachment probe to enter new phase with landmark hearing
In a landmark hearing on Wednesday, four constitutional law scholars will discuss whether the case against Trump meets a political and legal test for impeachment.
The four constitutional scholars who are scheduled to testify are Noah Feldman of Harvard Law School, Pamela Karlan of Stanford Law School, Michael Gerhardt, of the University of North Carolina School of Law and Jonathan Turley at George Washington University Law School.
Tuesday, November 3
Impeachment inquiry: Giuliani, Nunes, WH in frequent contact
A new report from Democrats compiling evidence on impeachment has revealed extensive contact between Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, and California Representative Devin Nunes, the top Republican on the intelligence panel, bringing to light new allegations by Democrats about phone calls between Trump’s allies.
The report released on Tuesday includes phone records obtained from AT&T and Verizon that show Giuliani also was in frequent contact with the White House and with Lev Parnas, a Giuliani associate who is under indictment on charges of using foreign money to make illegal campaign contributions.
The records show that Parnas and Nunes were in frequent contact last April, when Giuliani was publicly calling for an investigation into Biden.
Evidence of Trump misconduct ‘overwhelming’: House report
Democrats accused Trump of abusing power to win re-election in 2020, saying in a report that will form the basis of any formal impeachment charges that he solicited foreign interference, undermined national security, and ordered an unprecedented campaign to obstruct Congress.
The Democratic-led House of Representatives Intelligence Committee, which has spearheaded the impeachment probe, said Trump had used US military aid and the prospect of a White House visit to compel his Ukrainian counterpart to “do his political bidding”.