Distinguished Professors of Law - Professor Noah Feldman from Harvard Law School, Professor Pamela Karlan from Stamford Law School, Professor Michael J. Gerhardt from the University of North Carolina School of Law and Professor Jonathan Turley of George Washington University Law School – were given an easy ride by the House Judiciary Committee on 4 December.
These four legal luminaries spent over 8 hours answering questions from Committee members on whether impeachable offences had been committed by President Trump.
They were, however, not asked the following highly relevant questions:
1. Have you considered whether The Treaty Between the United States of America and Ukraine on Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters (Treaty) - ratified by the Senate on 18 October 2000 – has any relevance to the impeachment proceedings or acts as exculpatory evidence to legitimize the President's phone call on 25 July 2019 to President Zelensky?
In transmitting the Treaty to the Senate for approval then President Bill Clinton wrote:
The Treaty is self-executing. It provides for a broad range of cooperation in criminal matters. Mutual assistance available under the Treaty includes: taking of testimony or statements of persons; providing documents, records, and articles of evidence; serving documents; locating or identifying persons; transferring persons in custody for testimony or other purposes; executing requests for searches and seizures; assisting in proceedings related to restraint, confiscation, forfeiture of assets, restitution, and collection of fines; and any other form of assistance not prohibited by the laws of the requested state.
Article 2 establishes Central Authorities and defines Central Authorities for purposes of the Treaty. For the United States, the Central Authority is the Attorney General or a person designated by the Attorney General.
2. How can you formulate a legal opinion on whether President Trump should be impeached when it is clear that all the evidence has not been presented and is not being allowed to be presented by the Democrat majority on the Committee?
3. Is it safe to impeach the President without the Judiciary Committee requiring witnesses to personally appear before the Committee, give their evidence and be examined by members of the Judiciary Committee?
4. Is the appropriate standard required to impeach the President the one laid down by Judiciary Committee Chairman Nadler himself on 10 December 1998:
The effect of impeachment is to overturn the popular will of the voters as expressed in a national election. We must not overturn an election and remove a president from office except to defend our very system of government or our constitutional liberties against a dire threat. And we must not do so without an overwhelming consensus of the American people and of their representatives in congress of the absolute necessity.
There must never be a narrowly voted impeachment or an impeachment substantially supported by one of our major political parties and largely opposed by the other. Such an impeachment would lack legitimacy, would produce divisiveness and bitterness in our politics for years to come. And will call into question the very legitimacy of our political institutions.
5. Must the evidence used to impeach the President meet the following standard laid down by Chairman Nadler on 10 December 1998:
We have been entrusted with the grave and awesome duty by the American people, by the constitution and by history. We must exercise that duty responsibly. At a bear [sic] minimum, that means the president's accusers must go beyond hearsay and innuendo and beyond demands that the president prove his innocence of vague and changing charges. They must provide clear and convincing evidence of specific impeachable conduct.
The American people deserve the learned Professors' responses.
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