Trump 'willing to compromise U.S. security:' impeachment hearing chair

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Constitutional scholars (L-R) Noah Feldman of Harvard University, Pamela Karlan of Stanford University, Michael Gerhardt of the University of North Carolina, and Jonathan Turley of George Washington University are sworn in prior to testifying before the House Judiciary Committee in the Longworth House Office Building on Capitol Hill in Washington on December 4, 2019.

Members of USA congress are weighing up findings that President Donald Trump misused the power of his office for personal political gain and then obstructed an investigation as possible grounds for impeachment.

At the heart of the impeachment inquiry was the president's attempt during a July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to leverage the promise of White House meeting and the release of almost $400 million US aid to get Ukraine to announce an investigation of former Vice President Joe Biden created to benefit Trump politically.

The report is a summary of weeks of testimonies from top government officials and was approved by the intelligence panel on a partisan vote on Tuesday evening.

Republicans contend that Ukraine got the aid and Zelenskiy met with Trump without the Ukrainians agreeing to conduct the investigations.

"I definitely did not speak with president Trump in such a way, like, 'you give me this, I give you that, '" he stressed.

The Republican president "placed his own personal and political interests above the national interests of the United States, sought to undermine the integrity of the USA presidential election process, and endangered U.S. national security", the report said.

Some of those from the White House still believe the unpopularity of impeachment in areas where Trump is popular will prevent a vote in the House.

Judiciary Democratic counsel Norm Eisen asked the three Democratic witnesses if they saw enough evidence to impeach Trump on obstruction of Congress, and all three said yes.

Taking place behind closed doors, the vote completes the fact-finding phase of the impeachment proceedings and sends the document for consideration to the House Judiciary Committee.

Schiff said that while the Judiciary Committee meets, his panel could continue investigating other angles of the Ukraine scheme, including whether Trump actually began much earlier, pressuring Zelensky's predecessor Petro Poroshenko for the investigations, and whether some members of Congress were involved.

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He also undermined national security and orchestrated an unprecedented effort to obstruct Congress, the report by the Democratic-led committee charged.

Three of the four experts on Wednesday "will make a powerful case that the definition of impeachable offences certainly encompasses what Trump is charged with doing", said Laurence Tribe, a professor of law at Harvard who is advising Democrats on impeachment strategy. It is also likely to charge that Trump conditioned the White House meeting and military assistance money on a public commitment to the investigations.

The president himself, in London for a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation summit, lambasted his opponents for proceeding with impeachment hearings during his trip.

"Like all companies, we are required by law to provide information to government and law enforcement agencies", the statement said.

The political risks are high for all parties as the House presses only the fourth presidential impeachment inquiry in USA history.

"Soliciting itself is the impeachable offense", she said.

Support for the impeachment effort was vigorous in the Democrats' private meeting, though voting to remove Trump could come hard for some lawmakers in regions where the president has substantial backing.

It also argues that Trump was correct to withhold aid from Ukraine, citing problems with corruption in the country.

"'You have to ask him", Trump said. Obviously, Republicans do not love that the majority (in this case, Democrats) have considerably more power here, because, well - they're not the majority this time around.

"So, when it's fair, and it'll be fair in the Senate, I'd love to have [Secretary of State] Mike Pompeo, I'd love to have Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick [Mulvaney], I'd love to have [former Energy Secretary] Rick Perry, and many other people testify", said Trump.

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