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tv   In The Absence  Al Jazeera  December 4, 2019 7:32pm-8:00pm +03

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sir did you review the following testimony from our ambassador to ukraine ambassador william taylor to withhold that systems for no good reason other than help with the political campaign made no sense it was it was counterproductive to all of what we had been trying to do. it was illogical it could not be explained it was crazy yes that evidence underscored the way that the president's actions undercut national security professor feldman will you please explain why you concluded that the president committed the high crime of abuse of power and why it matters the abuse of power occurs when the president uses his office for personal advantage or game that matters fundamentally to the american people because if we cannot impeach
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a president who would be uses his office for personal advantage we no longer live in a democracy we live in a monarchy or we live under a dictatorship that's why the framers created the possibility of impeachment now professor karlan this high crime and misdemeanor of abuse of power was it some kind of loose or undefined concept to the founders of our country and the framers of our constitution no i don't think it was an abuse it was a loose concept at all it had a long lineage in the common law in england of parliamentary impeachments of lower level officers obviously they had not talked about impeaching as you've heard earlier the king or the like. and can you share a little bit about that lineage please yes so the you know they in the parliament in england impeached officers of the crown when those people abuse their
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power and if i could give you one example that might be a little helpful here right after the restoration of the king king ship in the in england. there was an impeachment and you know when they impeached somebody had to say what were they impeaching him for so sometimes i would be impeaching him for treason or the like and sometimes they would use the phrase high crime or misdemeanor and there was an impeachment of vi count mordant which is a great name to have but by count mordant and he was impeached because he was the sheriff of windsor and as the parliamentary election was coming up he arrested william taylor and i just want to read to you from the article of impeachment in front of the in front of the. house of house of commons because it so telling here's what article one of the said it said understanding that one william taylor did intend to stand for the
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election of one of the burgesses of the borough of windsor to serve in this present parliament in other words he was running as a member of parliament this is what morten did to disparage and prevent the free election of the said william taylor and strike at terror into those of the said borough which should give their voices for him and deprive them of the freedom of their voices at the election by count mordant did command and cause the said william taylor to be forceful really illegally and arbitrarily seized upon by soldiers and then he detained him in other words he went after a political opponent and that was a high crime or misdemeanor to use your office to go after a political opponent. now professor gary hart does a high crime and misdemeanor require an actual statutory crime no. it plainly does not everything we know about the history of impeachment reinforces the conclusion that impeachable offenses do not have to be crimes and again not all
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crimes are impeachable offenses we look at it again in the context in gravity of the misconduct and professor turley you recently wrote in the wall street journal and i quote there is much that is worthy of investigation in the ukraine scandal and it is true that impeachment doesn't require a crime that's true but i also added an important kaviak 1st failure it was a yes or no question did you write in the wall street journal there is much that is worthy of investigation in the ukraine scandal and it is true that impeachment does not require crime is that an accurate quotes or you've read it well so professors feldman carlon and gary hart you have identified on the evidence here there is an impeachable act high crime and misdemeanor of abuse
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of power correct yes yes and professor feldman what does the constitution say is the responsibility of the house of representatives in dealing with presidential high crimes and misdemeanors like abuse of power the constitution gives the house of representatives the sole power of impeachment that means the house has the right and the responsibility to investigate presidential misconduct and where appropriate to create and pass articles of impeachment. and professor conlon what does that responsibility mean for this committee with respect to the president's president trumps abuse of power well because this is an abuse that cuts to the heart of democracy you need to ask yourselves if you don't impeach a president who has done what this president has done or at least you don't you don't investigate and then impeach if you conclude that the house that the house
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select committee on intelligence findings are correct then what you're saying is it's fine to go ahead and do this again and i think that as the you know in the in the. report that came out last night the report the report talks about the clear and present danger to the election system and it's your responsibility to make sure that all americans get to vote in a free and fair election next next november professor karlan i'd like to direct you to the words in the constitution of their high crimes and misdemeanors we're still going to talk about abuse of power can i ask did the constitution spell out every other high crime and misdemeanor no it did not. bless you sir because they recognize that the inventiveness of man. and the likelihood that this constitution would endure for generations meant they couldn't list all of the crimes that might
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be committed they couldn't imagine an abuse of power for example that involved burglarizing in stealing is stealing computer files from an adversary because they couldn't imagine computers they couldn't necessarily have imagined wiretapping because there were we had no wires in 1789 so what they did is they put in a phrase that the english had used and that had and had adapted over a period of centuries to take into account that the idea of high crimes and misdemeanors is is to get at things that people in office use to strike at the very heart of our democracy and professor in your written testimony you mention 2 additional aspects of high crimes and misdemeanors besides abuse of power you talked about betrayal of the national interest. betrayal of the national interest and corruption of the electoral process can you say
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a little bit more about what the framers concerns were about corruption of elections and betrayal of the national interest involving foreign powers and how they come into play here sure so let me start with the framers and what they were concerned with and then bring it up to date because i think there's some modern stuff as well that's important so the framers were very worried that elections could be corrupted they could be corrupted in a variety of different ways and they spent a lot of time trying to design an election system that wouldn't be subject to that kind of corruption. and there are a number of different provisions in the constitution that deal with the kinds of corruption they were worried about 2 that i'd just like to highlight here because i think they'd. they go to this idea about the national interest and foreign governments are one that seems today i think to most of us to be really a kind of remnant of a past the past time which is if you become an american citizen almost everything
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in this country is open to you you can become chief justice of the united states you can become secretary of state but the one office that's not open to you even though you're a citizen just like all of the rest of us is the presidency because of the natural born citizen clause of the constitution and the reason they put that in is they were so worried about foreign influence over a president the other clause which you know probably no one had heard of you know 5 years ago but now everybody talks about is the amalia months claus they were really worried that the president because he was only going to be in office for a little while would use it to get everything he could and he would take he would take gifts from foreign countries not even necessarily bribes but just gifts and they were worried about that as well so they were very concerned about those elections but it's not just them and i want to say something about what what our national interest is today because our national interest today is different in some important ways than it was in $789.00 what the framers were worried about was that
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we would be a weak country and we could be exploited by foreign countries now we're a strong power now the strongest power in the world we can still be exploited by foreign countries but the other thing that we've done and this is one of the things that i think we as americans should be proudest of is we have become what john winthrop said in his sermon in 1640 and what ronald reagan said in his final address to the country as he left office we have become the shining city on a hill we have become the nation that leads the world in understanding what democracy is and one of the things we understand most profoundly is it's not a real democracy it's not a mature democracy if the party in power uses the criminal process to go after its enemies and i think you heard testimony. the intel just give me her testimony about how it it wasn't just our national interest in protecting our own elections it's not just our national interest in making sure that the ukraine remains strong and
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on the front lines so they fight the russians there and we don't have to fight them here but it's also our national interest in promoting democracy worldwide and if we look hypocritical about this if we look like we're asking other countries to interfere in our election if we look like we're asking other countries to engage in criminal investigations of our of our president's political opponents then we are not doing our job of promoting our national interest in being that shining city on a hill. professor feldman anything to add ultimately the reason that the constitution provided for impeachment was to anticipate a situation like the one that is before you today the framers were not prophets but they were very smart people with a very sophisticated understanding of human incentives and they understood that a president would be motivated naturally to try to use the tremendous power of office to gain personal advantage to keep himself in office to corrupt the
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electoral process and potentially to subvert the national interest the fact strongly suggest that this is what president trump has done and under those circumstances the framers would expect the house of representatives to take action in the form of impeachment and professor feldman. did you review the intelligence committee report finding that president trump compromise national security to advance his personal political interests i did and will you explain in your view how that happened. the president sought personal gain an advantage by soliciting the announcement of investigations and presumably investigations from ukraine and to do so he withheld critical assistance that the government of ukraine needed and by doing so he undermined the national
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security interest of the united states in helping ukraine our ally in a war that it is fighting against russia so in the simplest possible terms the president put his personal game ahead of the national security interest as expressed according to the evidence before you by the entirety of a unanimous national security community. is it your view that the framers would conclude that there was a trail of the national interest or national security by president trump on these facts in my view if the framers were aware that a president of united states had put his personal gain and interest ahead of the national security of the united states by conditioning aid to a crucial ally that's in the midst of a war on investigations aimed at his own personal gain they would certainly
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conclude that that was an abuse of the office of the presidency and they would conclude that that conduct was impeachable under the constitution professor gary hart what are your thoughts on the abuse of power be trail of national security or national interest and the corruption of elections. sir. oh i have a lot of thoughts one of them is that what we haven't mentioned yet and brought into this conversation. is the fact that the. peace room power requires this committee this house to be able to investigate presidential misconduct and if a president can block an investigation undermine it stop it then the impeachment power itself as a check against misconduct is undermined completely and professor karlan can you have an impeachable offense of abuse of power that is supported by considerations
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of a president's betrayal of the national interest or national security and by corruption of elections yes you can and do we have that here ma'am based on the evidence that i've seen which is the reviewing the 12 witness the transcripts of the 12 witnesses who testified looking at the call read out looking at some of the president's other statements looking at the statement by mr mulvaney and the like yes we do and professor feldman do you agree yes professor gary hart yes i do thank you. professor karlan we've been talking about the category of other high crimes and misdemeanors like abuse of power but there are some additional. there are some additional high crimes and misdemeanors that are specifically identified in the text of the constitution correct yes that's true what are the
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reason and by bribery do president trumps demands on ukraine also establish the high crime of bribery. yes they do can you explain why police sure so the the high crime or misdemeanor of bribery i think it's important to distinguish that from whatever the u.s. code calls bribery today and the reason for this in part is because. thank you in 789 when the framers when the framers writing the constitution there was no federal criminal code the 1st bribery statutes that the united states congress passed would not have reached a president at all because the 1st one was just about customs officials and the 2nd one was only about judges so it wasn't until i don't know 60 years or so after the constitution was ratified that we had any federal crime of bribery at all so when
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they say explicitly in the constitution that the president can be impeached and removed from office for bribery they weren't referring to a statute and federal and i will say i'm not an expert on federal court substantive federal criminal law all i will say here is the bribery statute is a very complicated statute so what they were thinking about was bribery as it was understood in the 18th century based on the common law up until that point and that understanding was an understanding that someone and generally even then it was mostly talking about a judge it wasn't talking about a president because there was no president before that i wasn't talking about the king because the king could do no wrong but what they were understanding then was the idea that when you took private benefits or when you ask for private benefits in return for an official act or somebody gave them to you to influence an
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official act that was bribery. and so we have constitutional bribery here the high crime and misdemeanor of constitutional bribery against president trump if you conclude that he asked for the investigation of vice president biden and his son for political reasons that is to aid his reelection then yes you have bribery here and in forming that opinion did you review the memorandum of the president's telephone call with the ukrainian president the one where president trump asked i would like you to do us a favor though and also asked about looking into his u.s. political opponents yes i did rely on that and did you consider the following testimony from our ambassador to the european union ambassador sohn flynt was there a quid pro quo as i testified previously with regard to the requested white house
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call and the white house meeting the answer is yes everyone was in the loop. did you consider that professor i did consider that yes and did you also consider the findings of fact that the intelligence committee made including that and i quote from finding of fact number 5 the president withheld official acts of value to ukraine and condition their fulfilment on actions by ukraine that would benefit his personal political interests i did rely on that in addition because as i have already testified i read the witnesses the transcripts of all of the witnesses and the like i relied on testimony from. them testimony from mr morrison testimony from lieutenant colonel vin testimony for ambassador taylor i relied on the fact
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that when i think it was ambassador taylor but i may be getting which one of these people wrong sent the sent the cable is said you know it's crazy to hold this up based on domestic political concerns no one wrote back and said that's not why we're doing it i relied on what mr maule veiny said in his in his press conference so there were you know there's a lot to suggest here that this is about political benefit and if i don't know if i can talk about another piece of ambassador silence testimony now or i should wait tell me please talk about it so i want to just point to what i consider to be the most striking example of this and the most you know i spent all of thanksgiving vacation sitting there reading these transcripts i didn't you know i i ate like a turkey that came to us in the mail that was already cooked because i was spending my time doing this and the most chilling line for me of the entire process was the
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following ambassador silence said he had to announce the investigations he's talking about. presents alinsky had to announce the investigations he didn't actually have to do them as i under. stood it and then he said i never heard mr goldman anyone say that the investigations had to start or had to be completed the only thing i heard from mr giuliani or otherwise was they had to be announced in some form and what i took that to mean was this was not about whether vice president biden actually committed corruption or not this was about injuring somebody who the president thinks of as a particularly a particularly hard opponent and that's for his private private beliefs because if i can say one last thing about the interests of the united states the constitution of the united states does not care whether the next president of the united states is donald trump or any one of the democrats or anybody running on
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a 3rd party the constitution is indifferent to that what the constitution cares about is that we have free elections and so it is only in the president's interest is not the national interest that a particular president be elected or be defeated at the next election the constitution is indifferent to that professor feldman any thoughts on the subject of the high crime and misdemeanor of bribery and the evidence that professor karlan laid out the clear sense of bribery at the time when the framers adopted this this language in the constitution was that bribery existed under the constitution when the president corruptly asked for or received something of value to him. from someone who could be affected by his official office so if the house of representatives in the members of this committee were to
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determine that getting the investigations either announced or undertaken was a thing of value to president trump and that that was what he sought then this committee and this house could safely conclude that the president had committed bribery under the constitution professor gary hart what is your view i have course agree with professor carl and professor feldman i just want to stress that if this were if what we're talking about is not impeachable the nothing is impeach this is precisely misconduct that the framers created a constitution including impeachment to protect against and if there's no action if we if congress to concludes. they're going to give a pass to the president here is professor carlin suggested earlier every other president president will say ok then i can do the same thing and the boundaries will just evaporate and those boundaries are set up by the constitution and we may
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be witnessing unfortunately there are ocean and that is a danger to all of us and what can this committee and the house of representatives do sir to defend those boundaries and to protect against that erosion precisely what you're drilling. am does it matter i'll ask all the panelists does it matter to impeachment that the $391000000.00 u.s. taxpayer dollars in military assistance that the president withheld was ultimately delivered professor feldman does that matter to the question of impeachment no it does not if. if the present united states attempts to abuse his office that is a complete impeachable offense the possibility that the president might get caught
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in the process of attempting to abuse his office and then not be able to pull it off does not undercut in any way the impeachability of the act if you'll pardon the comparison president nixon was subject to articles of impeachment preferred by this committee for attempting to cover up the watergate break in the fact that president nixon was not ultimately successful in covering up to break him was not grounds for not impeaching him the attempt itself is the impeachable act professor karlan does it matter to impeachment that the unfounded investigations the president sought were ultimately never announced no it doesn't and if i could give an example that i think shows why soliciting is enough imagine that you were pulled over for speeding by a police officer and the officer comes up to the window and says you were speeding but you know if you if you give me 20 bucks. drop the ticket and you look in your
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wallet and you say the officer i don't have the 20 bucks the officer says ok well just go ahead have a nice day officers would still be guilty of soliciting a bribe there even though he ultimately let you off without without your paying soliciting itself is the impeachable offense regardless whether the other person comes up with it so i imagine that the imagine that the president had said will you do us a favor will you investigate joe biden and the president of ukraine said you know what no i won't because we've already looked into this and it's totally baseless. the president would still have committed an impeachable act even if he had been refused right there on the phone so i don't see why the. ultimate the ultimate decision has anything to do with the president's impeachable conduct what's the danger if congress does not respond to that attempt well we already seen
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a little bit of it which is he gets out on the white house lawn and says china i think you should investigate joe biden and professor gary hart your view i certainly would agree with what's been said one of things to understand from the history of impeachment is everybody who is impeached. has failed they failed to get what they wanted and what they wanted was not just to do what they did but to get away with it and the point of impeachment is it's in it's made possible through investigation is to not is to catch that person charge that person alternately remove that person from office and impeachments are always focusing on somebody who didn't quite get as far as they wanted to it's is that you know nobody's better than professor karlan it hypothetical but i would dare to raise yet another one imagine a bank robbery and the police come and the person in the middle a bank robbery and the person then drops the money and says i i'm going to leave
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without the money everybody's understands that's burr that's robbery i mean it's purgatory are going to write yeah and in this situation we've got somebody really caught in the middle of it. and that doesn't excuse the person. you are watching al-jazeera at 1700 hours g.m.t. may day in washington d.c. where the next phase of the proceedings against donald trump is underway right now in the u.s. house of representatives the house judiciary committee weighing up evidence gathered by democrats who accuse president trump of abuse of power and obstruction the democrats right now are questioning 4 constitutional experts at this impeachment hearing the scholars have been testifying to establish the gravity of president alleged crime.


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