Democratic Witness Pamela Karlan: Trump’s Actions ‘Would Have Horrified’ Framers | NBC News

Channel: NBC News
Published: 12/04/2019 04:39 PM

Democratci witness Professor Pamela Karlan delivered a passionate opening statement looking at the impeachment inquiry from the point-of-view of the country's framers. » Subscribe to NBC News: » Watch more NBC video: NBC News Digital is...

Twice i have had the privilege of representing this committee and its leadership in voting rights cases before the supreme court once when it was under the leadership of chairman sensenbrenner and good, to see you again, sir, and with mr. shabbat as one of my other clients and Once under the leadership of chairman conyers, it was a great honor for me to represent this committee because of this com ...
ittees, key role over the past 50 years in ensuring that american citizens have the right to vote in free and fair elections. Today, you're being asked to consider whether protecting those elections requires impeaching a president, that is an awesome responsibility that everything i know about our constitution, andits values and my review of the evidentiary record, and here mr. collins. I would like to say to you, sir, that i read transcripts of every one of the witnesses who appeared in the live hearing, because i would not speak about these things without reviewing the facts, so i'm insulted by the suggestion that has a law professor, i don't Care about those facts, but everything i read on those occasions tells me that when president trump invited indeed demanded foreign involvement in our upcoming election, he struck at the very heart of what makes this a republic to which we pledge allegiance. That demand, as professor feldman just explained, constituted an abuse of power. Indeed, as iwant to explain in my testimony, drawing a foreign government into our elections isn't especially a serious abuse of power, because it undermines democracy itself. Our constitution begins with the words we the people. For a reason, our government in james madison's words, derives all its powers directly or indirectly from the great body of the people and the way it derives. These powers is through elections, elections matter, both till the legitimacy of our government and to all of our individual freedoms, because, as the supreme court declared more than a century ago, voting is preservative of all rights. So it is hardly surprising that the constitution is marbled with visions governing elections and guarantee and governmental accountability. Indeeda majority of the amendments to our constitution, since the civil war have dealt with voting or with terms of office and among the most important provisions of our original constitution is the guarantee of periodic elections for the presidency one every four years.

America has kept that promise. For more than two centuries - and it has done so even during wartime, for example, we invented the idea of absentee voting so that union troops who supported president lincoln could stay in the field during the election of 1864. And since then, countless other americans have fought and died to protect our right to vote, but the framers of our constitution realized that elections alone could not guarantee that theunited states would remain a republic. One of the key reasons for including the impeachment power was a risk that unscrupulous officials might try to rig the election process. Now you've already heard two people give william davy his props. You know, hamilton got a whole musical and william davy is just going to get this committee hearing, but he warned that unless the constitution contained an impeachment provision, a president might spare no efforts or means whatsoever to get himself. Reelected and george mason insisted that a president who procured his appointment in the first instance through improper and corrupt acts should not escape punishment by repeating his guilt and mason. Was the person responsible for adding high crimesand misdemeanors to the list of impeachable offenses? So we know from that that the list was designed to reach a president who acts to subvert an election, whether that election is the one that brought him into office or it's an upcoming election, where he seeks an additional term. Moreover, the founding generation, like every generation of american sense, was especially concerned to protect our government and our democratic process from outside interference. For example, john adams, during the ratification expressed concern with the very idea of having an elected president writing to thomas jefferson that you are apprehensive of foreign interference. Intrigue influence, so am i, but as often as elections happen, the danger of foreign influence recursand in his farewell address, president washington warned that history and experience proved that foreign influence is one of the most painful foes of republican government, and he explained that this was in Part because foreign governments would try an foment disagreement among the american people and influence what we thought. The very idea that a president might seek the aid of a foreign government in his re-election campaign would have horrified them, but based on the evidentiary record.

That is what president trump has done. The list of impeachable offenses that the framers included in the constitution shows that the essence of an impeachable offense is a president's decision to sacrifice the national interest for his own private endstreason. The first thing listed layin and individuals, giving aid to a foreign enemy that is putting a foreign enemies, adversaries interests above the interests of the united states. Bribery occurred when an official solicited received or offered a personal favor or benefit to influence official action, risking that he would put his private welfare above. The national interest and high crimes and misdemeanors captured the other ways in which a high official might, as just if dose of story, explained disregard public interests in the discharge of the duties of political office, based on the evidentiary record before you. What has happened in the case today is something that i do not think we have ever seen before apresident, who has doubled down on violating his oath to faithfully execute the laws and to protect and defend the constitution. The evidence reveals a president who used the powers of his office to demand that a foreign government participate in undermining a competing candidate for the presidency. As president john kennedy declared the right to vote in a free american election is the most powerful and precious right in the world, but our elections become less free when they are distorted by foreign interference. What happened in 2016 was bad enough. There is widespread agreement that russian operatives intervened to manipulate our political process, but that distortion is magnified if a sitting president abuses, the powers of his officeactually, to invite foreign intervention to see why imagine living in a part of louisiana or texas, that's prone to devastating hurricanes And flooding, what would you think if you lived there and your governor asked for a meeting with the president to discuss getting disaster aid that congress has provided for? What would you think if that president said, i would like to do you? I would like you to do us a favor i'll meet with you and i'll send the disaster relief once you brand my opponent, a criminal, wouldn't you know in your gut that such a president had abused his office, that he betrayed the national interest and that he Was trying to corrupt theelectoral process? I believe that that evidentiary record shows wrongful acts on that scale. Here. It shows a president who delayed meeting a foreign leader and providing assistance that congress and his own advisors agreed serves our national interest in promoting democracy and in limiting russian aggression.

Saying russia if you're listening, you know a president who cared about the constitution, say russia. If you're listening but out of our elections - and it shows a president who did this to strong-arm a foreign leader into smearing, one of the president's opponents in our ongoing election season - that's not politics as usual, at least not in the united states or not in any Mature democracy, it is instead a cardinal reasonwhy. The constitution contains an impeachment power. Put simply a president should resist foreign interference in our elections, not demand it and not welcome it. If we are to keep faith with our constitution and with our republic, president trump must be held to account. Hey andy see news viewers thanks for checking out our youtube channel subscribe by clicking on that button down here and click on any of the videos over here to watch. The latest interviews show highlights and digital exclusives thanks for watching.

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