Published On: Wed, Dec 4th, 2019

Watch Live: The House Judiciary Committee’s Impeachment-Inquiry Hearing into Donald Trump

On Wednesday, public hearings in the impeachment inquiry into Donald Trump begin in the House Judiciary Committee, which is chaired by Jerrold Nadler, a Democrat from New York. The four witnesses who are scheduled to appear—Noah Feldman, Pamela Karlan, Michael Gerhardt, and Jonathan Turley—are all are scholars of constitutional law, who will answer questions as the Committee attempts to arrive at a consensus view of what constitutes an impeachable offense. Article II, Section 4 of the Constitution says that a President may be impeached and removed from office for “Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.” The definitions of bribery and treason are commonly understood—“high Crimes and Misdemeanors,” on the other hand, require more parsing. As Jill Lepore recently wrote, “Because impeachment happens so infrequently, it’s hard to draw conclusions about what it does, or even how it works, and, on each occasion, people spend a lot of time fighting over the meaning of the words and the nature of the crimes.”

On Tuesday afternoon, Adam Schiff, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, sent the Judiciary Committee a three-hundred-page report laying out the evidence that President Trump tried to get the Ukrainian President, Volodymyr Zelensky, to “do his political bidding”—in this case, publicly announcing investigations that would personally benefit Trump—by withholding a White House visit and a military-assistance package. The Intelligence Committee’s investigation took place in the course of months and involved both closed-door and public hearings. The report says that “President Trump’s scheme subverted U.S. foreign policy toward Ukraine and undermined our national security in favor of two politically motivated investigations that would help his presidential reelection campaign.” It also emphasized the fact that the Trump White House has engaged in an “unprecedented campaign of obstruction,” calling it a “sweeping effort to stonewall the House of Representatives.”

Although it is his right to do so, the President will not attend the Wednesday hearing. In a letter to Chairman Nadler, the White House counsel Pat Cipollone wrote that “the President has done nothing wrong and that there is no basis for continuing your inquiry” and that the whole inquiry so far had been “tainted” by “procedural deficiencies” that it was now “too late to cure.” Cipollone, in his letter, also dismissed the Judiciary Committee hearing as “an academic discussion with law professors.”

House Republicans, meanwhile, have also issued an impeachment report, which was released on Monday. John Cassidy wrote that it is “an extraordinarily cynical and tendentious document” that only shows that congressional Republicans will stop at nothing to defend President Trump. In the Republicans’ version of events, “Not only has Trump done nothing wrong, he’s an anti-corruption crusader.” You can watch the entire hearing on the live stream above.