Impeachment hearing draws too-simple answers


WASHINGTON (AP) — Debating the grounds for impeachment, Republicans said there’s nothing here. Democrats said it’s a slam dunk.

Weighty questions about a president’s alleged malfeasance and whether that merits the extraordinary step of impeachment drew some too-simple answers at a House hearing Monday aimed at laying the foundation for charges that Donald Trump abused his power on Ukraine.

A sampling of rhetoric from the House Judiciary Committee:

Rep. DOUG COLLINS, top Republican on the committee: “We don’t have a crime.”

THE FACTS: That’s an opinion, not an established fact. But while Democrats do allege Trump engaged in some criminal acts, the constitutional grounds for impeachment do not require any crime to have been committed.

In setting the conditions of treason, bribery or high crimes and misdemeanors, the Founding Fathers said a consequential abuse of office — crime or not — was subject to the impeachment process they laid out.

Democrats say Trump abused his power in a July 25 phone call when he asked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy for a “favor” in investigating Democrats. That was bribery, they say, since Trump was withholding nearly $400 million in military aid that Ukraine depended on to counter Russian aggression.

As they draft articles of impeachment, Democrats are also alleging crimes involving obstruction of justice as part of their case that Trump abused his office.

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