The House Judiciary Committee on Monday is hearing testimony from several Democratic lawyers who are laying out the Democrat's case against President Donald Trump as the committee prepares articles of impeachment against the president.
The White House has so far refused to participate in the House hearings, complaining of unfair treatment of the president by Democrats for proceeding with the "baseless" hearings.
The committee is scheduled to hear from lawyers for both Democrats and Republicans on the findings from the House Intelligence Committee's impeachment inquiry over whether President Trump withheld nearly $400 million in military aid to Ukraine and a visit to the White House, in exchange for the newly-elected Ukrainian president to announce an investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden.
Witnesses for the Intelligence Committee include majority counsel Daniel Goldman and the Republicans' lawyer, Steve Castor.
Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY), who chairs the House Judiciary Committee, began today's impeachment hearing with an opening statement that cited testimony from constitutional experts last week who argued that Trump's behavior with the phone call with the newly-elected Ukrainian president was exactly the type of thing the founder fathers feared a president might attempt.
"As we heard in our last hearing, the framers of the Constitution were careful students of history and clear in their vision for the new nation. They knew that threats to democracy can take many forms, that we must protect against them," Nadler said. "The debates around the framing make clear that the most serious such offenses include abuse of power, betrayal of the nation through foreign entanglements and corruption of public office.
"Any one of these violations of the public trust would compel the members of this committee to take action. When combined, in a single course of action, they state the strongest possible case for impeachment and removal from office," he added.
Republicans scoffed at the Democrats' claims, with the ranking Republican for the Judiciary committee, Rep. Doug Collins, attacking the Democrats for already deciding they would impeach the president.
"For anyone to think that this was not a baked deal is not being honest with themselves," Collins said in his opening statement. "At the end of the day all this is about is a clock and a calendar.
Daniel Goldman, the Democratic counsel for the House Intelligence Committee said in his opening statement that President Trump's conduct toward Ukraine during the July 25 phone call with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky shows the president would continue trying to solicit foreign interference in the 2020 election.
"In June of this year, while sitting in the Oval Office, President Trump told a reporter that 'he’d take' information on his political opponent from a foreign country," Goldman said, citing comments from a Trump interview with ABC News. "This followed a nearly two-year investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller that found that Donald Trump’s 2016 political campaign expected that it would 'benefit electorally' from foreign help, which it knew about and utilized to win the election."
"Candidate Trump welcomed the help in 2016, but in 2019, he launched an extensive scheme to use the awesome power of the presidency to leverage official presidential acts in order to get that help again," he continued.
"This undermines the very foundation of our democracy: our independent and sovereign right to choose our elected officials, including and especially our commander in chief," he continued. "Ultimately, this committee and the House of Representatives must determine whether such conduct poses a clear and present danger to our elections and to our national security such that it warrants the impeachment of the 45th president of the United States, Donald J. Trump."
Goldman also said that everyone in Trump's administration, including Vice President Mike Pence, White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, and Rick Perry were "in the loop" regarding Trump's Ukraine's efforts.
Rep. Doug Collins got into a testy exchange with Goldman as Collins shouted at Goldman over the House Intelligence Committee releasing call logs that showed Trump's personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani and his indicted associate, Lev Parnas, had conversations with California Rep. Devin Nunes. Collins also called out Goldman after the attorney talked about a $1 million donation the U.S. Ambassador to the European Union, Gordon Sondlan, gave to President Trump.
"Be very careful about how you throw around dollars because you and Mr. Berke are real heavy donors to the Democratic party," Collins said.
Goldman wasn't having it, "Are you trying to say that — what are you trying to say? What is the implication here? I didn't give anything close to a million dollars remotely."
Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz added that "the implication is we want Schiff in that chair not you."
Nadler banged his gavel warning Gaetz for speaking out of turn and disrupting the committee.
Democrats say they're looking to make their case at Monday's hearing against President Trump and what they believe is his abuse of the office for personal political gain ahead of the 2020 election. According to reports, they plan to argue that Trump's actions were part of a "repeated pattern" and that what happened with Ukraine is indicative of what Trump would do ahead of the 2020 election.
Photos: Getty Images