The House Judiciary Committee will take over the impeachment of President Trump from the Intelligence Committee on Wednesday. And as the White House declined an invitation Sunday to participate in Wednesday's inaugural hearing for a host of process reasons, Axios unearthed a recent interview in which Fox News senior judicial analyst Andrew Napolitano dissected Trump's likely impeachment with Reason's Nick Gillespie. Napolitano, a libertarian, argued that House Democrats have a solid, politically risky case against Trump that will go nowhere in the GOP-controlled Senate.
"The Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee have unearthed enough evidence, in my opinion, to justify about three or four articles of impeachment against the president," Napolitano said, listing bribery and several "high crimes and misdemeanors," including "election law violations," obstruction of Congress, "interference with a witness," and "lying under oath." He dismissed the GOP complaints about the process and Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), noting that "Schiff, whether you like him or not, whether you agree with him or not, is following rules that the Republicans authored four, four and a half years ago."
When Gillespie asked Napolitano if Trump deserves to be removed from office, he hedged. "He hasn't presented a defense and I don't know if he plans to," Napolitano said. "The evidence of his impeachable behavior at this point, in my view, is overwhelming. But being an ex-judge and being a lawyer, I have to withhold judgment until a defense is presented. Now the defense would have to come out of the mouth, I would think, of people who've refused to testify," like Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, and Trump himself.
Napolitano also argued that all modern presidents step outside the bounds of the Constitution because Congress lets them, despaired about America's future, and criticized Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Justice Brett Kavanaugh. Watch the whole interview below. Peter Weber
On Fox News, Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.) argued that Democrats shouldn't impeach Trump for a scheme to withhold military aid from Ukraine until its president publicly announced investigations into Joe and Hunter Biden and the Democratic National Committee, because "it didn't happen" and "Ukraine got the money." Rep. Mike Turner (R-Ohio) told CNN that "it is not okay" for a U.S. president to even "raise his political opponent" in a phone call with a foreign leader, but it's also not "scandalous" because Trump acknowledged doing it when he released the partial transcript of his July 25 call with Ukrainian President Volodymr Zelensky.
On NBC's Meet the Press, Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) lamented the "damage that's being done to our entire country through this entire impeachment process" and argued that "it's going to be very difficult for future presidents to have a candid conversation with a world leader, because now we've set the precedent of leaking transcripts" — an apparent reference to the White House's own transcript release. The whistleblower who flagged concerns about that call, and the subsequent public revelation of the behind-the-scenes struggle over Ukraine military aid, "has exposed things that didn't need to be exposed," Johnson told host Chuck Todd.
"You seem to blame this on everybody but the president," Todd said. "I'm not blaming anybody, Chuck," Johnson replied. "Isn't the president's own behavior, which raised all of these yellow and red flags, isn't that why we're here?" Todd asked. Johnson said the whistleblower's lawyer has been advocating for impeachment since Trump's inauguration, Todd noted that Johnson suggested Hillary Clinton's impeachment before the election, and Johnson brought up former FBI agents Peter Strzok and Lisa Page. Johnson, protector of things that needn't be exposed, has released a year of Strzok and Page's private text messages. Peter Weber