Law Professor Gives Damning Testimony On Trump Soliciting Foreign Election Interference

Stanford professor Pamela S. Karlan used a domestic analogy to put Trump's withholding of aid to Ukraine in context.

Impeachment hearings continue on the Hill Wednesday, with a panel of legal scholars testifying before the House Judiciary Committee what exactly constitutes impeachable behavior.

Among them is Stanford Law professor Pamela S. Karlan, who used a domestic analogy to help explain why President Donald Trump’s pressuring and withholding of aid to Ukraine was controversial.

“To see why, imagine living in a part of Louisiana or Texas that’s prone to devastating hurricanes and flooding,” Karlan said. “What would you think if, when your governor asked the federal government for the disaster assistance that Congress has provided, the President responded, ‘I would like you to do us a favor. I’ll meet with you and send the disaster relief once you brand my opponent a criminal?’”

“Wouldn’t you know in your gut that such a president had abused his office, betrayed the national interest and tried to corrupt the electoral process?” 

In a July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, President Trump pressured the head of state to investigate one of his 2020 political rivals, Joe Biden, employing the same language soliciting a “favor,” according to a rough transcript of the call released by the White House and subsequent witness testimony before the House Intelligence Committee.

“Everything I know about our Constitution and its values, and my review of the evidentiary record, tells me that when President Trump invited—indeed, demanded—foreign involvement in our upcoming election, he struck at the very heart of what makes this country the ‘republic’ to which we pledge allegiance,” Karlan remarked earlier in her opening statement.

“That demand constituted an abuse of power. Indeed ... drawing a foreign government into our election process is an especially serious abuse of power because it undermines democracy itself.”