U.S. Democrats on Monday sought to strengthen the case for impeaching President Donald Trump, describing his pressuring of Ukraine to investigate a political rival as a “clear and present danger” to free and fair elections and national security.
(NATSOUND) Tempers flared on Capitol Hill Monday as U.S. Democrats sought to bolster the case for impeaching President Donald Trump.
Chairman Jerry Nadler.
SOUNDBITE (ENGLISH) REP JERROLD NADLER, SAYING: "President Trump put himself before country." Counsel for both the Republicans and Democrats were on hand to present evidence to the committee.
Daniel Goldman, the majority counsel for the House Intelligence Committee, said there was extensive proof of Trump's wrongdoing: SOUNDBITE (ENGLISH) DEMOCRATIC COUNSEL DANIEL GOLDMAN, SAYING: "The evidence from these witnesses cannot seriously be disputed, the president placed his personal interests above the nation's interests in order to help his own reelection efforts...President Trump's persistent and continuing effort to coerce a foreign country to help him cheat to win an election is a clear and present danger to our free and fair elections and to our national security." Barry Berke, counsel for the democrats, said previous testimony from witnesses confirms the accusations against Trump: SOUNDBITE (ENGLISH) DEMOCRATIC LAWYER BARRY BERKE, SAYING: "I'm going to turn to another expert.
I'm going to Dr. Fiona Hill, the National Security Council Senior Director in the Trump administration, and she's going to explain what happened…" (SOUNDBITE) (English) FIONA HILL, FORMER RUSSIA ADVISER TO U.S. PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP, SAYING: "Because he was being involved in a domestic political errand.
And we were being involved in national security/foreign policy.
And those two things had just diverged." SOUNDBITE (ENGLISH) DEMOCRATIC LAWYER BARRY BERKE, SAYING: "And that tells you what the evidence shows.
The president put his own domestic political interest over the nation's national security and foreign policy…He abused his powers in the way the founders feared the most" Republican attorney Stephen Castor fired back, arguing that democrats were just trying to get rid of Trump.
SOUNDBITE (ENGLISH) REPUBLICAN ATTORNEY STEPHEN CASTOR, SAYING: "The impeachment inquiry is clearly an orchestrated effort to upend our political system…the record in the Democrat's impeachment inquiry does not show that President Trump abused the power of his office or obstructed Congress.
To impeach a president that 63 million people voted for over eight lines in a call transcript is baloney." Castor also argued that there could be no pressure campaign against the Ukrainians because they didn't know military aid was being withheld.
SOUNDBITE (ENGLISH) REPUBLICAN ATTORNEY STEPHEN CASTOR, SAYING: "As ambassador Volker testified, because the highest levels of the Ukrainian government did not know about the pause, there was no leverage implied." But counsel for the Democrats say the record disputes this notion.
SOUNDBITE (ENGLISH) DEMOCRATIC COUNSEL DANIEL GOLDMAN, SAYING: "Our investigation revealed that a number of Ukrainian officials had made quiet inquiries to various U.S. officials about the aide as early as July 25th, the day of the phone call.
It was important for the Ukrianian officials to keep it quiet, because if it became public, then Russia would know that the U.S. support for Ukraine might be on ice." SOUNDBITE (ENGLISH) DEMOCRATIC LAWYER BARRY BERKE, SAYING: "And the argument about that is that well today, they haven't said they were pressured.
Well Ukraine was pressured then and still is pressured.
They are desperately in need of United States support as they battle the threat of Russia, so of course they have to be careful what they said, but contemporaneous documents, emails/texts from the Ukrainian officials themselves show the pressure they felt, show that they knew what President trump was doing, show what they had to do." (NAT SOUND) The hearing was also marked by theatrical outbursts.
Republican ranking member Doug Collins complained that Intel chairman Adam Schiff wasn't testifying about his committee's findings.