La. congressmen, law professor weigh in on the intensifying impeachment process

Updated: Dec. 5, 2019 at 7:33 PM CST
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) -House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Thursday (Dec. 5) that Democrats will move closer to impeaching Republican President Donald Trump. Pelosi announced on live TV that the House will draft formal articles of impeachment against Trump.

"Our democracy is at stake. The President leaves us no choice but to act because he is trying to corrupt, once again, the election for his own benefit. The President has engaged in abuse of power undermining our national security and jeopardizing the integrity of our elections,” said Pelosi, D-California.

President Trump responded with a tweet which reads, “The Do Nothing, Radical Left Democrats have just announced that they are going to seek to Impeach me over NOTHING. They already gave up on the ridiculous Mueller “stuff,” so now they hang their hats on two totally appropriate (perfect) phone calls with the Ukrainian President.”

Democrats say Trump abused his power and tried to influence the 2020 election when he asked Ukraine’s president to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden who is running for president and Biden’s son, Hunter.

Tulane University constitutional law professor Stephen Griffin is watching the impeachment process closely.

"Impeachment, the point here is not just to remove or not. The point is whether at the end of the day President Trump will be checked in what the Democrats felt was an obvious transgression,” said Griffin.

Griffin thinks Democrats’ argument that Trump tried to interfere in next year’s election carries weight, in terms of the constitution.

"The real strong point on the Democratic side is that the founders of this country were extremely concerned about any hint of foreign influence in our elections and that’s going to continue to be a very strong point for the Democrats to go forward. I didn’t hear Republicans say that it was okay to have foreign influence in our elections,” he said.

Pelosi’s announcement came one day after an hours-long impeachment hearing by the House Judiciary Committee which saw members of Congress support or oppose the idea of impeachment along party lines. Two Louisiana congressmen sit on the committee including the state’s only Democratic representative Cedric Richmond.

"President Nixon leveraged the powers of his office to investigate political rivals. But here the evidence shows that President Trump also leveraged taxpayer dollars to get Ukraine to announce sham investigations of President Trump's political rivals,” said Rep. Richmond, D-Louisiana.

But his Republican colleague Mike Johnson of Shreveport said impeachment is not warranted.

"The greatest danger of this fraudulent impeachment production is not what happens this afternoon or by Christmas or in the election next fall. The greatest danger is what this will do in the days ahead,” said Rep. Johnson.

On the Sean Hannity Show on the FOX News channel, GOP House Minority Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana said there was nothing wrong with the conversation Trump had with Ukraine’s president.

"The bottom line is President Zelensky and President Trump are the only two people participating in the phone call and neither of them had a problem with the call,” said Scalise.

Republicans argue that there is a presidential election less than a year away and accuse Democrats of wanting to oust Trump since the day he took office.

Griffin commented on the election argument.

"I think that's a very strong argument, the trouble with that though is that unless Pres. Trump is willing to do what Pres. Reagan did in somewhat similar circumstances and admit that he did something wrong and that he won’t do it again, unless he’s willing to take that course of action Democrats have little choice but to try to check him in some way,” Griffin stated.

In mentioning Reagan, Griffin was referring to the Iran-Contra controversy, However, Reagan was never impeached.

Griffin also noted that the impeachment process is playing out as more people can witness it through social media or on their smartphones.

"Well, not only more avenues for people, there's more avenues for Trump himself to comment on the impeachment as it takes place because there will be proceedings on the floor of the House, most important the Senate trial,” said Griffin.

Political pundits doubt Trump will be convicted during a trial in the Republican-controlled Senate.

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