U.S. House Judiciary Committee holds its first hearing in Trump impeachment inquiry

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Ranking Member Doug Collins lashed out at Democrats, accusing them of having tried to impeach Trump since he was elected, while the top Republican on the panel claimed the impeachment inquiry is driven by "the clock and the calendar" rather than "the facts."

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told reporters on Tuesday that he will first meet with Minority Leader Chuck Schumer for a deal to establish rules for an impeachment trial if the House impeaches Trump.

The president also weighed in on the ongoing hearing. "To do it on a day like this where we're in England... It just happened to be scheduled on this day. It's really honestly, it's a disgrace," he said.

"We cannot wait for the election to address the present crisis," Chairman Jerry Nadler said in his opening remarks. "If it is true that President Trump has committed an impeachable offense - or impeachable offenses - then we must move swiftly to do our duty and charge him accordingly."

WASHINGTON, Dec. 4 (Xinhua) -- The Democrat-led House Judiciary Committee is holding its first public hearing on Wednesday after taking over an impeachment inquiry into U.S. President Donald Trump.

In contrast, Jonathan Turley, professor of public interest law at the George Washington University Law School, cast doubt on the impeachment proceedings, saying he's "concerned about lowering impeachment standards to fit a paucity of evidence and abundance of anger."

Noah Feldman, professor of law at Harvard Law School, testified that he believes Trump's conduct "as described in evidence clearly constitutes impeachable high crimes and misdemeanors under the Constitution."

The hearing came a day after the House Intelligence Committee released a report on its findings in the months-long impeachment inquiry, which called evidence of Trump's alleged misconduct and obstruction of Congress "overwhelming."

Trump has denied any wrongdoing or a "quid pro quo." The White House has refused to cooperate with the impeachment inquiry, accusing Democrats of an unfair process.

Trump, who is in London for meetings with other foreign leaders on Wednesday, told reporters that he has seen the report, which he called "a joke."

House Democrats are conducting the impeachment inquiry into whether Trump abused his office by pressuring Ukraine into launching investigations that could benefit him politically. Lawmakers are also examining whether the Republican conditioned a White House meeting or a military aid to Ukraine on those probes.

But conviction can only happen in the Senate and requires at least two-thirds of its members, or 67 senators, to vote in favor. Currently, the Senate has 53 Republicans, 45 Democrats and two independents.

The president will be impeached if the House approves any of the articles of impeachment the House Judiciary Committee has recommended by a simple majority vote.

Their remarks were followed by opening statements from four constitutional law professors who later took questions from lawyers and lawmakers from both parties.

The impeachment inquiry, initiated by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in late September, has found that Trump, "personally and acting through agents within and outside of the U.S. government, solicited the interference of a foreign government, Ukraine, to benefit his reelection," the Intelligence panel's report claimed.

During Wednesday's hearing, Nadler said the House Judiciary Committee will reconvene in a few days and hear from impeachment investigators of other House panels, with Democrats on track to potentially vote on impeaching Trump by Christmas.