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House Judiciary Committee Holds More Hearings In Trump Impeachment Inquiry

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Today, the House Judiciary Committee took another step towards impeachment. Democratic and Republican lawyers came before the committee and presented the results of their investigations into President Trump's dealings with Ukraine. They laid out the evidence and their very different interpretations of it.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

One of those attorneys was Daniel Goldman, the lawyer for Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee. Here's how he laid out the case for impeachment.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

DANIEL GOLDMAN: First, that President Trump directed a scheme to pressure Ukraine into opening two investigations that would benefit his 2020 reelection campaign and not the U.S. national interest. Second, President Trump used his official office and the official tools of U.S. foreign policy, the withholding of an Oval Office meeting and $391 million in security assistance to pressure Ukraine into meeting his demands. Third, everyone was in the loop - his chief of staff, the secretary of state and vice president.

CORNISH: Goldman's Republican counterpart, Steve Castor, argued that Democrats' case relied heavily on ambiguous facts, presumptions and speculation.

SHAPIRO: He said, quote, "The Democrats do not have the proof." And he pointed to the White House's rough transcript of the July 25 phone call in which Trump asked Ukraine's president to look into the son of former Vice President Joe Biden. Here's Castor.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

STEVE CASTOR: The record in the Democrats' impeachment inquiry does not show that President Trump abused the power of his office or obstructed Congress. To impeach a president who 63 million people voted for over eight lines in a call transcript is baloney.

SHAPIRO: He also pointed out that the president of Ukraine publicly said he felt no pressure on the call.

CORNISH: Georgia Congressman Doug Collins, the ranking Republican on the committee, said the impeachment inquiry was an effort to tear down a president Democrats don't like.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

DOUG COLLINS: At the end of the day, all this is about is about a clock and a calendar because they can't get over the fact Donald Trump is president of the United States, and they don't have a candidate that they think can beat him. It's all political.

CORNISH: Republicans said that Democrats were pushing ahead too quickly, undermining the legitimacy of the investigation. Again, Steve Castor.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

CASTOR: This rushed and take-it-or-leave-it approach to investigating is contrary to how successful congressional investigations typically work.

SHAPIRO: The committee chairman, Democrat Jerry Nadler, defended the process. He said because Trump demanded foreign interference in the 2020 election, impeachment was urgent.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

JERRY NADLER: If you do not believe that he will do it again, let me remind you that the president's personal lawyer spent last week back in Ukraine meeting with government officials in an apparent attempt to gin up the same so-called favors that brought us here today and forced Congress to consider the impeachment of a sitting president.

SHAPIRO: Nadler said yesterday that articles of impeachment could be introduced as soon as this week.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.