Amid House Democrats’ rapidly advancing impeachment against President Donald Trump and many rounds of eyebrow-raising testimony later, the next big question is: Did the president commit any crimes?
Former acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker said he doesn’t see any wrongdoing by President Trump.
“What is the crime?” He asked during a Thursday appearance on Fox News’ “Your World with Neil Cavuto,” pointing out that the alleged “abuse of power” doesn’t even exist in the federal code.
“The reason that hearsay evidence is not admissible in federal court or state court is because it’s not reliable. These witnesses heard from somebody who heard from somebody who overheard a phone call that may have been somebody,” Whitaker explained to Fox host Neil Cavuto.
Democrats who have just wrapped the first round of public hearings on Wednesday were immediately met with criticism for calling witness who could give only secondhand and thirdhand information in their testimonies.
“‘Heard it from a friend who heard it from a friend’ witness hypes another NEW Trump phone call,” conservative news outlet BizPacReview tweeted.
Whitaker slammed Democrats for wasting “a lot of time and taxpayer money on something that ultimately is not going to be successful.”
“In my experience, and in this case, if you’re going to impeach the president, there should be some crime that has been pointed out,” Whitaker said.
When asked if abuse of power is considered a crime, Whitaker’s answer was a clear no.
“It is not, which means it’s not found in the federal code,” Whitaker explained. “There’s no elements with which you can line up the facts. We have facts that are alleged. What is the crime? What [are] the elements that could be held out to those fact to see if the president actually did something wrong?”
At the heart of the inquiry is Democratic suspicion of President Trump pressuring Ukraine to investigate a political rival in a July 25 phone call that triggered a whistleblower complaint, which House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) used as grounds to kickstart the impeachment inquiry.
But both President Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky denied of wrongdoing.
Democrats were not able to give concrete evidence for their accusations of President Trump’s wrongdoing.
Whitaker dismissed accusations of the president withholding military aid to Ukraine in exchange for an investigation in former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter, pointing out that the aid eventually flowed without condition, adding that “no investigation … was launched” and Ukraine received the aid “consistent with what Congress has authorized.”
“I know what Congress is trying to do here. They are trying to politically weaken the president,” Whitaker said, noting that he is concerned about the kind of precedent it will set for future administrations.
“I know the criminal code, and I don’t see anything that would make this a high crime or misdemeanor consistent with the Constitution,” Whitaker said. “If the Democrats want to impeach the president for anything, just a fact pattern that they are finding here, they certainly politically can do that.”
“Egregious behavior, abuse of power – those are just baskets with which things can be placed in that is in the eye of the beholder,” Whitaker stressed. “That’s never the system that we’ve developed here.”
The U.S. Constitution lists the grounds for impeachment as “treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors,” but nowhere is “egregious behavior” outlined as an amendment.