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Lawmakers chart path forward on impeachment after expert testimony

Lawmakers on Capitol Hill are contemplating the next steps in the impeachment inquiry following testimony from four constitutional scholars on Wednesday.

The House Judiciary Committee heard testimony on the constitutional grounds for impeachment over the course of eight hours from four experts, three of whom testified to their belief that the president committed impeachable offenses in his dealings with Ukraine.

The committee, which will be responsible for drafting any eventual articles of impeachment, held its first hearing in the impeachment inquiry on Wednesday, featuring testimony from constitutional law scholars Noah Feldman, Pamela Karlan, Michael Gerhardt and Jonathan Turley, a CBS News legal analyst.

Chairman Jerry Nadler said the president “directly and explicitly invited foreign interference in our elections.”

“Never before in the history of the republic have we been forced to consider the conduct of a president who appears to have solicited personal political favors from a foreign government,” Nadler said. “Never before has a president engaged in a course of conduct that included all of the acts that most concerned the framers.”

Feldman, Karlan and Gerhardt were called to testify by the Democratic members, and were in agreement in their belief that President Trump had committed impeachable offenses under the Constitution.

“If what we’re talking about is not impeachable, than nothing is impeachable,” Gerhardt said.

Turley was called by the Republicans and was the sole witness to say he did not believe impeachment was warranted, based on the findings of the House investigation. Republicans relied on his testimony to bolster their arguments about the unfairness of the proceedings and lack of evidence of wrongdoing.

“If you’re going to accuse a president of bribery, you need to make it stick, because you’re trying to remove a duly elected president of the United States,” Turley testified.

Pelosi to deliver statement on impeachment inquiry status
6:30 a.m. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will be delivering a statement on the status of the impeachment inquiry at 9 a.m. ET.

On Wednesday morning, at a Democratic caucus meeting, House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff presented his report on impeachment and according to the statement of a senior Democratic aide, “received a standing ovation from Members for the work of his committee.”

Pelosi then spoke about the gravity of the moment, the aide said, and told the caucus that members “must give room for their colleagues to reach their own conclusions as the inquiry proceeds.”

Democratic lawmakers then talked about what they were hearing in their districts from constituents and “overwhelmingly indicated that they want to continue to advance the inquiry on its current deliberative path – one step at a time.”

— Rebecca Kaplan

White House staffer Kash Patel denies he was back channel to Trump on Ukraine

6:00 a.m.: As a special assistant to the president, Kash Patel’s area of responsibility includes counterterrorism, but over the last few weeks, he’s also been enmeshed in Ukraine. One witness suggested he may have been part of a back channel to the president on Ukraine, and the 300-page impeachment report released by House Intelligence Committee Democrats Tuesday said that Patel spoke with Rudy Giuliani, the president’s personal attorney, in the spring, before nearly $400 million in military aid to Ukraine was suspended.

According to the call records revealed in the report, Patel had a 25-minute phone conversation with Giuliani on May 10. Five minutes after their call, Giuliani spoke with an unidentified number for 17 minutes and then with associate Lev Parnas, a Ukrainian-American who has been accused of illegally funneling foreign money to U.S. political candidates and of aiding Giuliani in his Ukraine investigations.

In an exclusive interview with CBS News senior investigative correspondent Catherine Herridge, Patel denied the Giuliani call touched on Ukraine.

First published on December 5, 2019 / 6:00 AM

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