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Legal Experts Respond to ‘Sordid’ Trump-Ukraine News: If You Won’t Impeach Now, When?


The Ukrainian Levkoy is out of the bag. President Donald Trump wants Ukrainian authorities to investigate allegations of corruption against Joe Biden‘s son, Hunter Biden, and Rudy Giuliani doesn’t care if the world knows, all-but bragging about it in a Friday report.

But is this latest scandal simply another episode of Trump’s nine lives? Democrats in Congress have so far failed to meaningfully exercise any sort of oversight over the White House–despite plenty of potential ammunition to work with–and congressional leadership has repeatedly dashed hopes of official impeachment hearings.

The tenor of reaction to the Biden-Ukraine report, however, has legal experts–even more moderate voices–suggesting the time is ripe for impeachment–and if it doesn’t happen now, it probably never will.

Gene Rossi is a former federal prosecutor who currently works as a defense attorney. He also appears as a trial analyst on the Law&Crime Network. In an email, Rossi elaborated on an earlier tweet viz. the Ukraine news:

Of all the sordid allegations to date stemming from the Stormy Saga and the Mueller Report, this DNI whistleblower crisis may outweigh them all. If the allegations are true, our President may have crossed the line on bribery and honest services laws by abusing his office to entice a foreign power with a promise of military funds to dig up dirt on a major opponent. The motive of this President is as nefarious as one can find.

Bribery, it should be noted, is an impeachable offense according to the Constitution. It should be noted that the initial reporting on the whistleblower complaint said that concerns were raised about a “promise” Trump made to a foreign leader.

University of Texas Law Professor Steve Vladeck, a constitutional scholar who is not prone to hyperbole or the constant drumbeat gotchas of the online Hashtag Resistance, even suggested that Congress should initiate impeachment hearings over the news:

Congressional Democrats who have bucked Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and called for impeachment took Friday’s revelations to heart.

“This is deadly serious,” Representative David Cicilline (D-Rhode Island) said via Twitter late Friday. “If the President does not allow the whistleblower complaint against him to be turned over to Congress, we will add it to the Articles of Impeachment.”

Political scion and Representative Joe Kennedy III (D-Mass.) added his voice to the chorus calling for impeachment over the issue as well:

This may be a lawless President, but this isn’t a lawless land. Listening to & protecting whistleblowers isn’t just the right thing to do, it’s the legal thing to do. If Trump is obstructing this complaint, we can add it to the articles of impeachment.

Former U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Preet Bharara, famously fired by Trump, took aim at both Trump and Congressional Democrats–the latter of whom are facing increasing criticism from their own base over perceived weakness in the face of the White House’s alleged lawlessness. Seasoned legal observers have also joined that fray–voicing concerns that Democrats are a failure when it comes to their Constitutional oversight and enforcement duties.

“On this one maybe Congress doesn’t need to wait two years for a prosecutorial report that says a President can’t be indicted even if he’s a recidivist when it comes to abusing his power,” Bharara said via Twitter in reference to the Biden-Ukraine news.

[image via Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images]

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