Transcript for 3 of 4 constitutional scholars favor impeachment at hearing
And we begin tonight with the historic next step in the impeachment inquiry, and a very combative one that played out today on capitol hill. The heated proceedings infront of the house judiciary committee. The witnesses, constitutional law scholars, who were asked, with us president trump's conduct on Ukraine impeachable? Three witnesses arguing the president abused his power for his own personal political gain. The Republican witness saying the Democrats don't have the evidence and that this is being rushed. And tonight, the unexpected moment when one of the witnesses brought up to president's youngest son to make a point. It was not well-received by many and tonight, she's apologizing. President trump, meanwhile, flying back to Washington tonight and lashing out. This evening, what we've learned. The president's team already looking ahead to what they want in a senate trial. Terry Moran leads us off from the hill tonight. Reporter: It was a highly partisan and dramatic day. The first high stakes hearing in the judiciary committee featuring constitutional scholars. The president has shown us his pattern of conduct. If we do not act to hold him in check now, president trump will almost certainly try again to solicit interference in the election for his personal political gain. But this is not an impeachment. This is just a simple railroad job and today's is a waste of time. Reporter: Right out of the gate, three out of the four scholars, the ones chosen by Democrats, testified that the president should be impeached. I just want to stress that if what we're talking about is not impeachable, then nothing is impeachable. If we cannot impeach a president who abuses his office for personal advantage, we no longer live in a democracy. That's why the framers created the possibility of impeachment. The very idea that a president might seek the aid of a foreign government in his re-election campaign would have horrified them, but based on the evidentiary record, that is what president trump has done. Reporter: Pamela karlan said the president's alleged actions, withholding nearly $400 million in U.S. Aid approved by congress, simply for personal political gain, has never happened before. The evidence reveals a president who used the powers of his office to demand that a foreign government participate in undermining a competing candidate for the presidency. She pointed out what she found most troubling. And the most chilling line for me of the entire process was the following. Ambassador sondland said, he had to announce the investigations, he's talking about president zelensky, he has to announce the investigations, he didn't actually have to do them, as I understood it, and then he said, I never heard anyone say 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 took that to mean was, this was not about whether vice president Biden actually committed corruption or not, this was abjuing somebody who the president thinks of as a particularly -- a particularly hard opponent. Reporter: But law professor Jonathan Turley, called by Republicans, said he did not vote for trump, but he is still troubled by the Democrats' impeachment inquiry, in an agitated time in our country. I get it. You're mad. The president's mad. My Republican friends are mad. My democratic friends are mad. My wife is mad. My kids are mad. Even my dog seems mad. Reporter: He said Democrats don't have the evidence they need. There's a difference between requesting investigations and a quid pro quo. You need to stick the landing on the quid pro quo. You need to get the evidence to support it. It might be out there, I don't know. But it's not in this record. Reporter: And, he added, that Democrats are rushing this. It's a perfect storm. You set an incredibly short period, demanding huge amount of information and when the president goes to court, you then impeach him. In Nixon, it did go to the courts and Nixon lost. And that was the reason Nixon resigned. Reporter: House speaker Nancy Pelosi urging house Democrats, quote, are you ready? While vice president Mike pence rallying the Republicans to turn up the heat on the Democrats. And back in that hearing room, Republicans were furious when one of those law professors argued that the constitution does not make trump a king. Driving the point home with a quip about the president's son. So, while the president can name his son baron, he can't make him a baron. When you invoke the president's son's name here, when you try to make a little joke out of referencing baron trump, that does not lend credibility to your argument. It makes you look mean. It makes you look like you're attacking somebody's family, the minor child of the president of the United States, so, let's see if we can get into the facts. To all of the witnesses. If you have personal knowledge of a single material fact in the Schiff report, please raise your hand. And let the record reflect, no personal knowledge of a single fact. So, after that moment today, let's get right to Terry Moran tonight. First, the apology from that law scholar? Reporter: That's right, at the end of the hearing, she said, "I want to apologize for what I said about the president's son. It was wrong of me to do that. It wish the president would apologize, obviously, for the things that he's done that are wrong. But I do regret having said In the meantime, Terry, where does this go from here? News tonight from the president's legal team, suggesting they believe a senate trial is a certainty. And what do they want to see in a trial? Reporter: Well, the president is a tough it will gator and he's planning a scorched Earth defense. They want a full senate trial, including the president wants the ability to call witnesses, perhs live in the senate chamber itself. He wants the Republican leadership, already blacked out the entire month of January. This is, essentially, a way -- no one should be surprised, the president using the trial to put his accusers on trial. David? Terry Moran, thank you. And president trump, meanwhile, returning to the
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