Congressman Raskin condemns "moral degeneration" of Republicans

Grace Segers

Congressman Jamie Raskin is condemning the "moral degeneration" of Republicans in his assessment of their conduct during the impeachment inquiry of President Trump. The Maryland Democrat, a member of the Judiciary and Oversight Committees, has been sitting in on the closed hearings held by the committees conducting the impeachment inquiry.

"One of the critical components of this story is the absolute moral degeneration of the Republican Party. They're behaving like members of a religious cult," Raskin told CBS News chief Washington correspondent Major Garrett in an interview for this week's episode of "The Takeout" podcast.

House Democrats are conducting an impeachment inquiry into President Trump regarding whether the administration deliberately withheld aid to Ukraine in an effort to get the Ukrainian president to announce investigations into a political rival of Mr. Trump. Republicans argue that, although the aid was withheld, it was eventually released in September without Ukraine's ever having to announce new investigations. However, Democrats have been quick to note that the aid was released shortly after the existence of a whistleblower complaint raising concerns about President Trump's July 25 call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky became public.

Raskin refuted the Republican argument that there had been no wrongdoing because no investigations were opened, comparing Mr. Trump's actions to an attempted bank robbery.

"If their argument is that in the final analysis, investigations were not launched, despite the every best effort by the president and Giuliani and their henchmen, and the money was ultimately released, that's essentially a confession," Raskin said, referring to the president's personal attorney Rudy Giuliani, who has been involved in advising Mr. Trump on Ukrainian policy.

"They're like someone who's robbing a bank who's got two big bags of money, and is about to leave the bank, and then the security guards pounce on the person, and then they dust themselves off and say, 'Oh, well, all's well that ends well, no money was taken out of this bank, nothing was ever converted.' I mean, they're basically conceding that there was a clear attempt to shake down a foreign government," Raskin continued.

The House Intelligence Committee conducted the first open impeachment hearing on Wednesday. Raskin said that based on what he's learned from recent testimony, there is "overwhelming evidence of high crimes and misdemeanors." He accused Mr. Trump of creating a "counter-government" using "mob-style" tactics. Bill Taylor, the top diplomat in Ukraine, testified Wednesday that there was an "irregular channel" of forming policy outside of the "regular channel" within the State Department.

"If you set up a kind of para-government outside of the the government to undermine official governmental purposes and to violate the law and engage in mob-style extralegal conduct — no, that's not something that you can just chalk up to personal idiosyncrasies. That's an absolute violation of the oath of office that the president is sworn to," Raskin said.

Raskin also said he would be interested in hearing from former National Security Adviser John Bolton.

"Bolton is someone who, according to Fiona Hill, according to several other witnesses, was upset about the shadow corrupt government which Donald Trump unleashed against the Ukrainian president," Raskin said, referring to Mr. Trump's former Russia adviser, Fiona Hill, who is testifying in an open hearing next week. "I'm very curious to know what Bolton has to say. He clearly wants to talk."

For more of Major's conversation with Jamie Raskin, download "The Takeout" podcast on  iTunesGooglePlaySpotify and Stitcher. New episodes are available every Friday morning. Also, you can watch "The Takeout" on CBSN Friday at 5pm, 9pm, and 12am ET and Saturday at 1pm, 9pm, and 12am ET. For a full archive of "The Takeout" episodes, visit www.takeoutpodcast.com. And you can listen to "The Takeout" on select CBS News Radio affiliates (check your local listings).

Producers: Arden Farhi, Jamie Benson, Sara Cook and Eleanor WatsonCBSN Production: Eric Soussanin, Grace Segers and Julia BoccagnoShow email: TakeoutPodcast@cbsnews.comTwitter: @TakeoutPodcastInstagram: @TakeoutPodcastFacebook: Facebook.com/TakeoutPodcast   

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