AP Photo/Evan Vucci
- Over 500 legal scholars signed an open letter stating President Donald Trump engaged in "impeachable conduct" in his dealings with Ukraine.
- The letter said there's "overwhelming evidence that President Trump betrayed his oath of office by seeking to use presidential power to pressure a foreign government to help him distort an American election."
- The scholars said both chambers of Congress "would be acting well within their constitutional powers" if they ultimately vote to impeach and remove Trump.
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More than 500 legal scholars from many of the top universities in the country lent their signatures to an open letter saying there's "overwhelming evidence" President Donald Trump engaged in "impeachable conduct" in his dealings with Ukraine.
The letter, which was published Friday by the nonprofit advocacy group Protect Democracy, said: "There is overwhelming evidence that President Trump betrayed his oath of office by seeking to use presidential power to pressure a foreign government to help him distort an American election, for his personal and political benefit, at the direct expense of national security interests as determined by Congress.
"His conduct is precisely the type of threat to our democracy that the Founders feared when they included the remedy of impeachment in the Constitution," the letter added.
The scholars said they did not reach the conclusion lightly and that they take no position on whether Trump "committed a crime." But they added that "conduct need not be criminal to be impeachable" and that the "standard here is constitutional; it does not depend on what Congress has chosen to criminalize."
They emphasized that elections are the primary way to check a president, in the sense that if they behave poorly then voters can punish them or their party at the ballot box. But went on to say that "a president who corrupts the system of elections seeks to place himself beyond the reach of this political check."
"Put simply, if a President cheats in his effort at re-election, trusting the democratic process to serve as a check through that election is no remedy at all. That is what impeachment is for," the letter said.
The scholars also underscored that the Founders were deeply concerned over corruption in terms of a president's relationship with foreign governments, which is why the commander-in-chief is barred from receiving "anything of value from foreign governments without Congress's consent."
The letter concludes by citing much of the damning evidence against Trump gathered via the impeachment inquiry, before ending by stating that the House of Representatives votes to impeach and the Senate subsequently votes to remove Trump then both chambers "would be acting well within their constitutional powers."
Trump has called the impeachment inquiry a "hoax," and Republicans in Congress have overwhelmingly stood by him throughout the process. Though it seems that it may be only a matter of time before Trump is impeached in the House, it's widely considered highly unlikely he will be removed from office by the Republican-controlled Senate.
The president has forcefully defended his conduct with Ukraine, offering an inconsistent series of justifications as to why he withheld about $400 million in congressionally approved military aid from Kiev as he simultaneously urged Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to launch investigations into his political rivals.
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