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House impeachment hearing: Opening statements from legal experts are powerful and clear

US Democratic Representative from New  York Jerry Nadler reads from all 448 pages of special counsel Robert Mueller's report on Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election at the US Capitol on May 16, 2019 in Washington, DC. - Democratic members of the House are doing a marathon reading of Mueller's report which is expected to take more than 12 hours. (Photo by NICHOLAS KAMM / AFP)        (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)

Just because Wednesday’s first impeachment hearing before the House Judiciary Committee is going to consist of testimony from four legal experts rather than from witnesses to Trump’s extortion efforts in Ukraine, that does not mean the day is going to be without drama or impact. The opening statements of all four legal scholars testifying on Wednesday have now been released, and, if anything, they are far more forceful than anything that has previously been seen.

For example, Michael Gerhardt, the Samuel Ashe Distinguished Professor of Constitutional Law at UNC, has released his opening statement, and that statement says exactly what the nation needs to hear at this moment.

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.

Stanford Law professor Pamela Karlan is no less decisive in her statement.

Put simply, a candidate for president should resist foreign interference in our elections, not demand it. If we are to keep faith with the Constitution and our Republic, President Trump must be held to account.

Noah Feldman of Harvard Law School, an expert on James Madison, spells it out explicitly.

These acts constitute high crimes and misdemeanors impeachable under the Constitution. By freezing aid to Ukraine and by dangling the promise of a White House visit, the president was corruptly using the powers of the presidency for personal political gain. 

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