House Democrats played clips of President Trump talking about refusing to cooperate with Congress in the House’s impeachment inquiry as they questioned witnesses Wednesday about whether Trump engaged in impeachable conduct.
“We’re fighting all the subpoenas,” Trump said in one of the video clips played at the House Judiciary Committee’s impeachment hearing, which was taken from remarks he made at the White House in April declining to cooperate with congressional investigations into his administration.
“Then I have an Article II where I have the right to do whatever I want as president,” Trump said in the second clip taken from a July speech at a Turning Point USA conference.
Noah Feldman, a Harvard University law professor, told Norm Eisen, a counsel for Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee, “As someone who cares about the Constitution, the second of those in particular struck a kind of horror in me.”
Feldman was among three witnesses who testified Wednesday that Trump committed impeachable offenses. Another constitutional law expert called by Republicans cautioned against impeachment during the hearing.
Feldman said Wednesday that Trump was robbing the House of Representatives of its “basic constitutional power of impeachment” and putting himself “above the law” by refusing to cooperate in the impeachment inquiry.
“A president who will not cooperate in an impeachment inquiry is putting himself above the law,” Feldman testified. “The core of an impeachable offense.”
Eisen then asked if his opinion was informed by Trump’s public statements, playing the clips of the president’s comments, which he made before House Democrats launched the impeachment inquiry.
Feldman answered in the affirmative.
Wednesday’s hearing was the Judiciary’s first considering potential articles of impeachment against Trump stemming from his conduct towards Ukraine. Democrats signaled they are considering drafting articles accusing Trump of three offenses: abuse of power and bribery; obstruction of justice; and obstruction of Congress.
The House Intelligence Committee, which led the fact-finding phase of the impeachment inquiry, issued a report Tuesday alleging Trump abused his power by soliciting foreign interference in the 2020 election in contacts with Ukraine.
Trump has denied wrongdoing, saying his call with Ukraine’s president at the center of the impeachment inquiry was “perfect” and that Democrats are engaged in a partisan effort harm his reelection prospects.