The latest on the Trump impeachment inquiry

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In past impeachment proceedings, the courts have undermined the President’s wishes. During Whitewater, President Bill Clinton was forced by a unanimous Supreme Court to testify under oath in a civil lawsuit, which led to his impeachment for lying and obstruction. During Watergate, President Richard Nixon faced multiple fast-moving court cases that ultimately forced details to Congress and prosecutors that prompted his resignation before the full House voted on articles of impeachment.In a hearing Tuesday, Chief Judge Beryl Howell of the DC District Court, the first-line trial court in most separation of powers fights, grilled a Justice Department lawyer who argued to keep information known to the executive branch away from the House. Chief Judge Beryl Howell of the DC District Court pictured on April 13, 2018. Alex Wong/Getty ImagesHowell pressed the administration attorney on legal precedent — what Howell must decide under the law based on past decisions from courts above. When the lawyer suggested that a judge in 1974 would have not handed a grand jury’s collection of evidence to the House of Representatives during Watergate if the case had arisen today, “Wow,” Howell exclaimed.Howell also bluntly told the Justice Department’s legal team she would need to back the House in its needs during a formal impeachment proceeding.”By my reading of the Supreme Court and D.C. Circuit law, I owe enormous deference, if not absolute deference, when it comes to the exercise of the impeachment power to how the House decides to conduct itself,” Howell said Tuesday.Michael Gerhardt, a CNN analyst and University of North Carolina law professor, pointed to moments in the Howell hearing as an example of how far Trump’s legal team has swerved from history. The “argument shows not just how aggressive the President is being, but how much disdain they have for settled law. Most judges would just recoil at that,” Gerhardt said.



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