The chairman of the US House Judiciary Committee said Sunday that if the impeachment case against President Donald Trump were put to a jury, there "would be a guilty verdict in three minutes flat."
Representative Jerry Nadler, whose panel is to convene Monday to begin drawing up articles of impeachment, told CNN that the evidence that Trump put personal interests above those of his country in dealing with Ukraine was "rock solid."
While not specifying what those articles might include, Nadler did not rule out the possibility of a House vote on impeachment by the end of the week.
That would put it on a fast track to a trial in early 2020 before the Republican-controlled Senate, where Trump is expected to prevail.
The president has repeatedly blasted the House inquiry as a partisan attack by House Democrats, and on Sunday he tweeted that the Judiciary hearings are part of a "hoax" by the "No Due Process, Do Nothing Democrats."
But while complaining that Democrats have not given Trump's lawyers adequate opportunity to call their own witnesses and make their case, the White House signaled Friday that it would not seek to defend the president before Nadler's panel.
The committee will be weighing evidence compiled by the House Intelligence Committee on whether Trump linked military aid and a meeting with President Volodymyr Zelensky to a request that Kiev investigate a potential 2020 rival, Democrat Joe Biden, and his son Hunter.
Nadler would not speculate on what might be included in the articles of impeachment, though speculation has centered on abuse of power and obstruction of justice.
But he described the central allegation as being that Trump "sought foreign interference in our elections several times, both for 2016 and 2020, and that he sought to cover it up" thus posing "a real and present danger to the integrity of the election" coming in November.
Nadler would not say whether the evidence that Russia meddled in the 2016 election, favoring Trump, would be included in the formal charges.
Adam Schiff, the Intelligence Committee chairman who is also managing the broader inquiry, told CBS on Sunday that there was "overwhelming evidence that the president sought to coerce Ukraine into interfering in our election" and, more seriously, "deeply sought to obstruct the investigation into that wrongdoing."
Most Republicans have stuck with Trump as the affair has unfolded, saying there is no clear and direct evidence that he wrongly pressured Ukraine for personal political gain.
Representative Mark Meadows, a strong Trump supporter, said on CNN that Trump was legitimately concerned about corruption in Ukraine and had done nothing inappropriate in a much-examined phone call with Zelensky.
He said House Republicans seemed likely to vote as a bloc against impeachment, possibly joined by two or more Democrats from Trump-leaning states.
The majority Democrats are expected to carry the vote, however.
Nadler, asked whether he felt confident that Trump personally directed improper approaches to Ukraine, replied: "We have a very rock-solid case. I think the case we have, if presented to a jury, would be a guilty verdict in three minutes flat."
Trump said in his tweet Sunday that Democrats were trying to "change the rules" of impeachment, an apparent but unexplained reference to a 52-page report on the history and legal underpinnings of impeachment released by Democrats.
Republicans have demanded that Hunter Biden, as well as Schiff and the whistleblower at the origin of the inquiry, all testify before the committee.
Nadler has rejected those requests, saying the three are "irrelevant" at this point. It made no sense to call Schiff as a witness, he said, because "he didn't witness anything."
He rejected Republicans' argument that direct evidence implicating Trump in any wrongdoing was lacking.
"The reason we don't have more direct evidence is the president has ordered everybody in the executive branch not to cooperate with Congress in the impeachment inquiry, something unprecedented in American history, and a contempt of Congress by itself."
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