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House Judiciary Committee takes over: Law experts weigh in on impeachment inquiry

President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at Winfield House in London on Dec. 3 2019

As a first step, the Judiciary Committee will seek insights from four law professors on what constitutes an impeachable offense and how Trump's alleged misconduct compares with the actions of two former presidents - Republican Richard Nixon, who resigned before he could be removed from office, and Democrat Bill Clinton, who was impeached but not convicted by the Senate. The new report signals the hand-off of the impeachment inquiry from House Intelligence Chair Adam Schiff (D-CA) to House Judiciary Chair Jerrold Nadler (D-NY).

But the report makes clear that's where Democrats are heading.

Rep. Doug Collins, the top Republican on the committee, said, "Don't tell me this is about new evidence and new things and new stuff" and pointed out that "this is nothing new folks".

Collins said the Democrats effort to remove from office didn't start with then-special counsel Robert Mueller's report on Russian Federation interference in the 2016 election it started with election day when Trump defeated Hillary Clinton.

"The evidence presented does not prove any of these Democrat allegations, and none of the Democrats' witnesses testified to having evidence of bribery, extortion, or any high crime or misdemeanor", the report stated, adding, "The evidence shows that President Trump holds a deep-seated, genuine, and reasonable skepticism of the USA foreign aid and the need for European allies to shoulder more of the financial burden for regional defense". They say the military aid the White House was withholding was not being used as leverage, as Democrats claim - and besides, the $400 million was ultimately released, although only after a congressional outcry.

House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy called on Democrats to end the impeachment "nightmare".

Trump, who is in London for a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation summit, repeated accusations that Democrats are using the impeachment process to engage in a politically-motivated attack seeking to undo the results of the 2016 presidential election by removing him from office.

Like the president, Republicans maintain that the Democratic investigation is a sham meant to overturn the 2016 election, with evidence cherry-picked by the lead investigator, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff.

The "Trump-Ukraine Impeachment Inquiry Report" provides a detailed, stunning, account of a shadow diplomacy run by Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani, resulting in layers of allegations that can be distilled into specific acts, like bribery or obstruction, and the more amorphous allegation that Trump abused his power by putting his interests above the nation. "Chairman Schiff's report reads like the ramblings of a basement blogger straining to prove something when there is evidence of nothing".

Turley, the only witness appearing for the Republicans, has written articles saying that Democrats have moved too quickly with their inquiry, focused too narrowly on Trump's relations with Ukraine and lack testimony from people with direct knowledge of the events.

The report's findings on both Ukraine and obstruction of Congress are expected to be included in the articles of impeachment.

"The impeachment inquiry has found that President Trump, personally and acting through agents within and outside of the USA government, solicited the interference of a foreign government, Ukraine, to benefit his reelection" next year, the report said.

To be sure, however, Democrats also are likely to restate, for TV audiences, the findings of the report unveiled on Tuesday by Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif.

The report will lay the foundation for the Judiciary Committee to assess potential articles of impeachment, presenting a history-making test of political judgment with a case that is dividing Congress and the country. Jerry Nadler of NY, is holding its first impeachment hearing on Wednesday with legal experts.