Prof. Gerhardt Describes Trump's 'Defiance Of Congress' In Opening Statement | NBC News

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Published: 12/04/2019 04:48 PM

Prof. Michael Gerhardt compared the impeachment inquiry of President Trump to that of former President Richard Nixon's in his opening statement to the House Judiciary Committee. » Subscribe to NBC News: » Watch more NBC video: NBC News ...

Thank you, mr. chairman ranking member or other distinguished members of the committee. It'S an honor and a privilege to join the other distinguished witnesses to discuss a matter of grave concern to our country and to our constitution, because this house, the people's house, has the sole power of impeachment. There is no better forum to discuss the constitutional standard for impeachment and whet ...
er that standard has been met in the case of the current president of the united states. As i explained in the remainder and balance of my opening statement, the record compiled thus far shows the president has committed several impeachable offenses, including bribery abuse of power and soliciting of personal favor from a foreign leaderto benefit himself personally, obstructing justice and obstructing congress. Our hearing today should serve as a reminder one of the fundamental principles that drove the founders or founders of our cause of our constitution, to break from england and to draft their own constitution. The principle that in this country, no one is king. We have followed that principle since before the founding of the constitution, and it is recognized around the world as a fixed, inspiring american ideal in his third message to congress in 1903, president theodore roosevelt delivered one of the finest articulations of this principle. He said no one is above the law and no man is below. Nor do we ask any man's permission. Whenwe require him to obey it. Obedience to the law is demanded as a right not asked for as a favor.

Three features of our constitution protect the fundamental principle that no one, not even the president, is above the law. First, in the british system, the public had no choice over the monarch, who ruled them and our constitution the framers allowed elections to serve as a crucial means for ensuring presidential accountability. Second and the british system, the king could do no wrong and no other parts of the government could check his misconduct in our constitutions. The framers developed the concept separation of powers, which consists of checks and balances designed to prevent any branch, including thepresidency, from becoming tyrannical. Third, in the british system, everyone, but the king was impeachable. Our framers generation pledged their lives and fortunes to rebel against the monarch, whom they saw as corrupt tyrannical and entitled to do no wrong and our declaration of independence. The framers set forth a series of impeachable offenses that the king had committed against the american colonists. When the framers later convened in philadelphia to draft our constitution, they were united around a simple, indisputable principle. There was a major safeguard for the public. We, the people against tyranny of any kind, a people who had overthrown a king were not going to turn around just after securing their independence from corrupt monarchical tyrannyand. Creating an office that, like the king, was above the law could and could do no wrong. The framers created a chief executive to bring energy to the administration of federal laws, but to be accountable to congress for treason, bribery or other high crimes and misdemeanors.

The framers concerned about the need to protect against a corrupt president was evident throughout the convention, and here i must thank my prior two friends who have spoken and referred to a north carolinian, william davey. I will refer to another north carolinian in the constitutional convention. James iredell and president washington, later appointed to the supreme court, assured his fellow delegates. The president quote is of a very different naturefrom, a monarch. He is to be personally responsible for any abuse of the great trust placed in him unquote. This brings us, of course, of the crucial question we're here to talk about today. The standard for impeachment, the constitution defines treason and the term bribery basically means using office for personal gain, or, i should say misusing office for personal gain. His professor feldman pointed out these terms derived from the british who understood the class of cases that would be impeachable to refer to political crimes which included great offences against the united states. Attempts to subvert the constitution when the president deviates from his duty or dares to abuse the power invested to him by thepeople reaches of the public trust is serious injuries to the republic and is influential essay in the federalist papers. Alexander hamilton declared that impeachable offenses are those offenses which proceeded from the misconduct of public men or, in other words the abuse or violation of some public trust and relate chiefly to injuries done immediately to this society itself. Several themes emerge from the framers discussion of the scope of impeachable, offenses and impeachable and impeachment practice. We know that not all impeachable offenses are criminal and we know that not all felonies are in p chable offenses.

We know further that what matters in determining whether particular misconduct constitutes a high crime, a misdemeanor, is ultimately the contextand the gravity of the misconduct in question. After reviewing the evidence, that's been made public. I cannot help but conclude that this president has attacked each of the constitution's safeguards against establishing a monarchy in this country. Both the context and gravity of the president's misconduct are clear. The favour he requested from cranes president was to receive, in exchange for his use of presidential power, ukraine's announcement of a criminal investigation of a political rival. The investigation was not the important action for the president. The announcement was because it could then be used in this country to manipulate the public into casting aside the president's political rival because of concerns about his corruption. The gravity of thepresident's misconduct is apparent when compared to the misconduct of the one president, who resigned from office to avoid impeachment conviction and removal. The house judiciary committee in 1974 approved three articles of impeachment against richard nixon, who resigned a few days later. The first article charged him with obstruction of justice. If you read the muller report, it identifies a number of facts. I won't lay them out here right now that suggests the president self has obstructed justice.

We look at the second article of impeachment approved against richard nixon. It charged him with abuse of power for ordering the heads of the fbi, irs and cia to rat to harass his political enemies in the present circumstancethe president is engaged in a pattern of abusing the trust, placing him by the american people by soliciting foreign countries, including China, russia and ukraine to investigate his political opponents and interfere on his behalf in elections in which he is a candidate. The third article approved against president nixon charged that he had failed to comply with for legislative subpoenas in the present circumstance. The president has refused to comply with and directed at least 10 others in his administration, not to comply with lawful congressional subpoenas, including secretary of state, mike pompeo, energy, secretary rick perry and acting chief of staff and headed the office of management and budget mick melville mulvaney. A senator lindsey, graham nowa, chair of the senate judiciary committee, said when he was a member of the house on the verge of impeaching president clinton. The day richard nixon failed to answer that subpoena is the day he was subject to impeachment because he took the power from congress over the impeachment process away from congress, and he became the judge and jury. That is a perfectly good articulation of why obstruction of congress is impeachable. The president's defiance of congress is all the more troubling due to the rat troubling due to the rationale he claims for his obstruction. His arguments and those of his subordinates, including his white house counsel, on his october 8th letter to the speaker and threecommittee chairs, boiled down to the assertion that he is above the law. I won't read that letter here, but i do want to disagree with the characterization in the letter of these proceedings since the constitution expressly says, and the spring and the supreme court has unanimously affirmed that the house is the sole power of impeachment and like that, like The senate, the house has empowered to determine the rules for its proceedings. The president and is subordinates have argued further that the president is entitled to absolute immunity from criminal procedure. Even an investigation for any criminal wrongdoing, including shooting someone on fifth avenue, president, has claimed further he's entitled to absolute executive privilege not to shareany information.

He doesn't want to share with another branch. He'S also claimed the entitlement to be able to order the executive branch, as he's done not to cooperate with this body when it conducts an investigation of the president. If left unchecked, the president will likely continue his pattern of felicity of soliciting foreign interference on behalf of the next election and, of course, his obstruction of congress. The fact that we can easily transpose the articles of impeachment against president nixon onto the actions of this president speaks volumes and that does not even include the most serious national security concerns and election interference concerns at the heart of this president's misconduct. Noma misconduct, it's more antithetical, toour democracy and nothing injures the american people more. Then, a president uses his power to weaken their authority under the constitution, as well as the authority of the constitution itself. May i read one more sentence or i'm sorry who at least may have another sentence or two? Thank you. Thank you. If congress fails to impeach here, then the impeachment process has lost all meaning and along with that, our constitution's carefully crafted safeguards against the establishment of a king on american soil and therefore i stand with the constitution, and i stand with the framers who were committed to Ensure that no one is above the law - hey nbc news viewers thanks for checking out our youtubechannel 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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