Impeach Trump

Capitol Ink | Opening Gavel

House Democrats enlist risky legal move in impeachment probe
‘Adverse inference’ that missing evidence is damaging evidence carries political pitfalls

House Intelligence Chairman Adam B. Schiff, D-Calif., joined by Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., speaks Wednesday during a news conference on the impeachment inquiry. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

House Democrats have brandished a legal concept to help speed through an impeachment inquiry and pin wrongdoing on the Trump administration — but the strategy might create weaknesses in their case farther down the path to removing President Donald Trump from office.

“Adverse inference” usually plays out in civil lawsuits if one of the parties withholds some evidence, such as if they refuse to testify or if they destroy documents. In those situations, a judge can tell jurors that they can presume the missing evidence would have been bad for the side that didn’t provide it.

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