If Trump scandal doesn't meet 'Framers' conception of bribery, what does?': constitutional expert scolds GOP
Ruth Marcus (CBS/screen grab)

Longtime columnist Ruth Marcus on Sunday dared Republican lawmakers to argue that President Donald Trump did not "bribe" Ukraine as the term was defined by the Framers of the U.S. Constitution.


Marcus was joined on CBS's Face the Nation by veteran reporters and presidential historians.

Host John Dickerson noted that the impeachment debate touched on "bedrock American values."

Historian Jon Meachum explained that the Framers of the Constitution expected future Americans to "screw everything up."

"And we've done everything we can since then to prove them right," he said. "Therefore, sovereignty had to be divided. Power cannot be given to one person in the republican -- lowercase 'r' -- contract. Impeachment was a very important element there."

According to Meachum, the central question is whether House lawmakers "are going to follow the facts or are they... going to reflexively be partisan and interpret reality, not as they see it, but as they wish to see it."

Dickerson noted that Marcus is an expert on so-called originalism, the idea that the Constitution's meaning does not change with the culture. It is an idea that is popular with many conservatives.

"It is really a political question that is up to the political branch," she remarked. "But, yes, the Framers were entirely worried about precisely the kind of event we're talking about here, foreign influence, the misuse of presidential power for public gain and political advantage -- rather than for the public good."

"The question I would have for Republicans," Marcus continued, "if this doesn't not rise to the level of a high crime or misdemeanor or look a lot like the Framers' conception of bribery, what does?"

Marcus argued that House Democrats were "constitutional obliged" to open an impeachment investigation because the facts demanded it.

Watch the video below from CBS.