In­quiry moves into new phase

Ex­perts will tes­tify about con­sti­tu­tional is­sues

USA TODAY International Edition - - FRONT PAGE - Bart Jansen and Wil­liam Cum­mings

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 first 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 five 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 find­ings.

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 first Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee hear­ing is sched­uled for Wed­nes­day at 10 a. m. EST. It will be held in a cham­ber of the Long­worth House Office 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 offer­ing 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.”

What’s next?

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 office.

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 five 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.

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