Inquiry moves into new phase
Experts will testify about constitutional issues
Bart Jansen and William Cummings
WASHINGTON – The Democraticled House of Representatives’ investigation of President Donald Trump moves this week from the fact- gathering hearings of the Intelligence Committee to the Judiciary Committee, which will decide whether to recommend articles of impeachment.
The Judiciary Committee hearing Wednesday will examine the constitutional grounds for impeachment.
“Our first task is to explore the framework put in place to respond to serious allegations of impeachable misconduct like those against President Trump,” Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler, D- N. Y., said in announcing the hearing.
The next phase in the impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump begins this week.
Here’s what you need to know:
Is the Intelligence Committee done?
The Intelligence Committee held five days of open hearings with a dozen witnesses last month after weeks of listening to closed- door testimony.
The committee, chaired by Rep. Adam Schiff, D- Calif., has been been poring over the mountains of testimony and other evidence it collected to produce a report of its findings.
The Intelligence Committee is scheduled to meet Tuesday at 6 p. m. to vote on the report. If approved, it will then be sent to the Judiciary Committee.
What is the next hearing?
The first Judiciary Committee hearing is scheduled for Wednesday at 10 a. m. EST. It will be held in a chamber of the Longworth House Office Building on Capitol Hill and is expected to feature testimony from legal experts on the constitutional grounds for impeachment.
The review will include an analysis of the intent and meaning of the phrase “high crimes and misdemeanors” as it appears in the section of the Constitution that outlines the acts for which a president could potentially be removed.
Will the president participate?
Nadler set a deadline for 6 p. m. Sunday for Trump to decide whether to send a lawyer to question witnesses in the upcoming hearing. Nadler also set a Friday deadline for Trump to declare whether he intends to participate at all in the inquiry by questioning witnesses, responding to evidence or offering any presentation in his defense.
Trump and his Republican supporters have previously decried the impeachment process as unfair because it did not give the president a chance to defend himself from allegations that he leveraged military aid to Ukraine for his personal political gain.
Rep. Andy Biggs, R- Ariz., who sits on the Judiciary Committee, advised Trump against sending his lawyer to participate in the hearing.
“We are not even sure who that panel’s going to be yet. It’s going to be a bunch of law professor types,” Biggs said Sunday. “This whole thing’s been an illegitimate process so far, so why legitimize this with a president’s counsel appearing on Wednesday?”
But Biggs’ fellow Republican on the Judiciary Committee, Rep. Tom McClintock of California, said Sunday that while he understood why Trump is “upset at the illegitimate process that we saw unfolding in the Intelligence Committee,” he thought “it would be to the president’s advantage to have his attorneys there.”
The Judiciary Committee hearing is a prelude to debate on whether the committee should recommend articles of impeachment to the full House. If the House votes to impeach Trump, the Senate would then hold a trial, probably in early 2020, to determine whether to remove Trump from office.
But a two- thirds majority would be required for conviction, or removal, making it unlikely in the Republicancontrolled Senate. No president has been removed this way in three previous impeachment inquiries.
The Judiciary Committee is collecting reports from a total of five committees as evidence for possible articles of impeachment. The Intelligence Committee report is expected to form the foundation of the case against the president.
Rep. Jerry Nadler, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, will head the next impeachment hearings, which begin Wednesday.