By Jeremy Herb and Manu Raju, CNN
Updated 3:17 PM ET, Wed December 4, 2019
(CNN) A trio of legal scholars argued at the first House Judiciary Committee impeachment hearing Wednesday that President Donald Trump’s unprecedented conduct was evidence of impeachable offenses, amid vocal protests and repeated procedural roadblocks thrown up by Republicans protesting the impeachment proceedings.
The opening impeachment hearing held by the panel expected to draft articles of impeachment against the President was contentious from the moment Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler gaveled the hearing into session. Republicans repeatedly forced procedural votes and quizzed Nadler on committee rules as they dismissed the impeachment proceeding as a sham, asking her members: “Are you ready?”
The hearing marked an important step forward for Democrats in the impeachment proceedings, which have shifted from the House Intelligence Committee-led investigation to the Judiciary panel. Democrats are on track for an impeachment vote on the House floor by the end of the year, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi held a closed-door, members-only meeting Wednesday morning where Democrats agreed to continue moving forward with the inquiry.
At the hearing, Democrats pushed past the Republican objections to elicit testimony from the three of the four legal experts they invited to explain why Trump’s actions constituted impeachment offenses.
Those three professors, Harvard University’s Noah Feldman, Stanford University’s Pamela Karlan and North Carolina’s Michael Gerhardt, were all asked, based on the House Intelligence Committee evidence, “Did President Trump commit the impeachable high crime and misdemeanor of abuse of power?” All said that he did.