In­quiry moves into new phase

Ex­perts will tes­tify about con­sti­tu­tional is­sues

USA TODAY US Edition - - FRONT PAGE - 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 panel 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, DCalif., has been por­ing over the 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 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 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?

Again claim­ing the en­tire im­peach­ment in­ves­ti­ga­tion is un­fair, the White House told the Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee on

Sun­day it will not par­tic­i­pate in a new hear­ing this week.

“This base­less and highly par­ti­san in­quiry violates all past his­tor­i­cal prece­dent,” White House coun­sel Pat Cipol­lone wrote to Rep. Jerry Nadler, DN.Y., the com­mit­tee chair­man.

“Ac­cord­ingly,” he said in the let­ter, “un­der the cur­rent cir­cum­stances, we do not in­tend to par­tic­i­pate in your Wed­nes­day hear­ing.”

Nadler had asked the White House if it wanted of­fi­cials to at­tend and ask ques­tions at the hear­ing.

Trump and his GOP sup­port­ers have pre­vi­ously de­cried the im­peach­ment process 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, ear­lier Sun­day ad­vised Trump against send­ing his lawyer to par­tic­i­pate in the hear­ing.

“This whole thing’s been an il­le­git­i­mate process so far, so why le­git­imize this with a pres­i­dent’s coun­sel ap­pear­ing on Wed­nes­day?” Biggs said.

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 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 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.

SHAWN THEW/EPA-EFE

Rep. Jerry Nadler, chair­man of the House Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee, will head the next round of im­peach­ment hear­ings, which be­gin Wed­nes­day.

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