Jenna Ellis on the Case Against Impeachment

A new poll shows Americans are holding firm to their views on impeachment, with no change in public opinion since October. Half of Americans still say President Trump should be impeached and removed from office, while 43% say he should not. Jenna Ellis is a constitutional lawyer and legal adviser for the Trump 2020 campaign, and joins the program to make the legal case against impeachment.

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CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR: But first and foremost, I want to get your view as to what is your best case, in other words, Trump’s best case against impeachment.

JENNA ELLIS: Yes. Well, the classic burden shifting to even think that the president really needs a defense because the Democrats have to prove their case. Anyone who comes forward with articles of impeachment have to show what we call in the law a prima facie case. They have to fulfill that burden that whatever the charges are in the articles of impeachment, they have sufficient evidence to move forward with a trial. A lot of the American public simply believe that impeachment is a purely political process. It’s actually not. Jurisdiction is given to the House in order to look at the articles of impeachment and then it moves forward to a trial in the Senate, but that’s only a jurisdictional question. It still has to work in tandem and not inconsistent with Article II Section IV, which lays out either treason, bribery or other high crimes and misdemeanors.

And so, the conduct the House impeachment inquiry was looking into with President Trump, we heard from a lot of witnesses who really didn’t witness anything and the very key questions when witnesses who were actually on the July 25th phone call with Ukraine, they said no to bribery, no to any sort of criminal conduct. And so, the Democrats here have not proved their case. They are saying that this is purely political and that’s the only reason they’re moving forward. And a United States sitting president cannot be impeached simply because an opposition party is in the majority and wants to oust him from office.


ELLIS: That is completely against what the framers designed in the U.S. constitution when they allowed for impeachment of a sitting president.

AMANPOUR: So, let’s take your points point by point. Not all of them, obviously, but the last couple that you made. On bribery, as you mentioned, you did hear one Trump appointee, I mean, it’s his guy. It’s, you know, a billionaire donor, Ambassador Sondland, who out loud said there was a quid pro quo. And then you heard others —

ELLIS: He said in his opinion.

AMANPOUR: — backing that up. So, I just want to ask you — no, I’m giving you this chance to tell us. The Democrats, the opposition, claim that a quid pro quo is obviously something that’s given in return for something, another way to say bribery. And you’ve mentioned the word, you know, being crucial here. But they define it referenced in the constitution as “soliciting a benefit to influence an official act.” The benefit in this case, they say, dirt on his 2020 political opponent is tied to official acts. One would be the White House visit, the other would be holding up or conditioning the hundreds of millions of dollars in military [13:05:00] aid to Ukraine. Do you accept that interpretation?

ELLIS: No. And I don’t think that that’s — there was no quid pro quo. And, again, Ambassador Sondland and others they said that that was simply their opinion and their speculation as far as what happened.

About This Episode EXPAND

Trump 2020 Campaign Senior Legal Adviser Jenna Ellis joins Christiane Amanpour to give the case against impeachment, then former acting U.S. Solicitor General Neal Katyal gives the case for it. Plus, Pat Mitchell discusses the need for dangerous women in dangerous times, and Lena Waithe sits down with Alison Stewart to explain her writing process for “Queen & Slim.”