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Prof. Jonathan Turley: “legal case for impeachment is not just woefully inadequate, but in some respects, dangerous”

Prof. Jonathan Turley: “legal case for impeachment is not just woefully inadequate, but in some respects, dangerous”

The three law professors called by Democrats soiled themselves with hyper-partisan harangues, while Turley stood out as trying to put legal history ahead of current politics.

Today was perhaps the biggest farce yet in the impeachment saga. Two of the law professors called by the Democrats (Pamela Karlin and Noah Feldman) were so over-the-top partisan and political, that they buried whatever legal points they were making. The third law professor called by Democrats, Michael Gerhardt, was not much better.

There was little difference between their harangues and those of Adam Schiff and other Democrat politicians. They soiled themselves.

The standout was Professor Jonathan Turley. I don’t agree with everything he said, but there is little doubt he tried to put legal history before current politics. His opening statement was a truncated version of the 53-page statement he submitted:

Here are some key exerpts from Prof. Turley’s prepared written statement, which is scholarly and thorough:

…. one can oppose President Trump’s policies or actions but still conclude that the current legal case for impeachment is not just woefully inadequate, but in some respects, dangerous, as the basis for the impeachment of an American president. To put it simply, I hold no brief for President Trump. My personal and political views of President Trump, however, are irrelevant to my impeachment testimony, as they should be to your impeachment vote. Today, my only concern is the integrity and coherence of the constitutional standard and process of impeachment. President Trump will not be our last president and what we leave in the wake of this scandal will shape our democracy for generations to come. I am concerned about lowering impeachment standards to fit a paucity of evidence and an abundance of anger. If the House proceeds solely on the Ukrainian allegations, this impeachment would stand out among modern impeachments as the shortest proceeding, with the thinnest evidentiary record, and the narrowest grounds ever used to impeach a president.7 That does not bode well for future presidents who are working in a country often sharply and, at times, bitterly divided.

* * *

In the end, I believe that this process has raised serious and legitimate issues for investigation. Indeed, I have previously stated that a quid pro quo to force the investigation of a political rival in exchange for military aid can be impeachable, if proven. Yet moving forward primarily or exclusively with the Ukraine controversy on this record would be as precarious as it would premature.

* * *

As I have stressed, it is possible to establish a case for impeachment based on a non-criminal allegation of abuse of power. However, although criminality is not required in such a case, clarity is necessary. That comes from a complete and comprehensive record that eliminates exculpatory motivations or explanations. The problem is that this is an exceptionally narrow impeachment resting on the thinnest possible evidentiary record…. Even under the most flexible English impeachment model, there remained an expectation that impeachments could not be based on presumption or speculation on key elements.

* * *

In the current case, the record is facially insufficient. The problem is not simply that the record does not contain direct evidence of the President stating a quid pro quo, as Chairman Schiff has suggested. The problem is that the House has not bothered to subpoena the key witnesses who would have such direct knowledge. This alone sets a dangerous precedent. A House in the future could avoid countervailing evidence by simply relying on tailored records with testimony from people who offer damning presumptions or speculation. It is not enough to simply shrug and say this is “close enough for jazz” in an impeachment. The expectation, as shown by dozens of failed English impeachments, was that the lower house must offer a complete and compelling record. That is not to say that the final record must have a confession or incriminating statement from the accused. Rather, it was meant to be a complete record of the key witnesses that establishes the full range of material evidence. Only then could the body reach a conclusion on the true weight of the evidence—a conclusion that carries sufficient legitimacy with the public to justify the remedy of removal.

* * *

A comparison of the current impeachment inquiry with the three prior presidential inquiries puts a few facts into sharp relief. First, this is a case without a clear criminal act and would be the first such case in history if the House proceeds without further evidence. In all three impeachment inquiries, the commission of criminal acts by Johnson, Nixon, and Clinton were clear and established….

Second, the abbreviated period of investigation into this controversy is both problematic and puzzling…. We have never seen a controversy arise for the first time and move to an impeachment in such a short period…. To be blunt, if the schedule is being accelerated by the approach of the Iowa caucuses, it would be both an artificial and inimical element to introduce into the process….

Finally, the difference in the record is striking…. The Ukrainian matter is largely built around a handful of witnesses and a schedule that reportedly set the matter for a vote within weeks of the underlying presidential act. Such a wafer-thin record only magnifies the problems already present in a narrowly constructed impeachment.

Turley also provided, as part of his legal point, this handy guide to Democrat demands for impeachment (it’s a dense paragraph, so I added some hard paragraph breaks for ease of reading):

These efforts reflect the long history of impeachment being used as a way to amplify political differences and grievances. Such legislative throat clearing has been stopped by the House by more circumspect members before articles were drafted or

This misuse of impeachment has been plain during the Trump Administration. Members have called for removal based on a myriad of objections against this President. Rep. Al Green (D-Texas) filed a resolution in the House of Representatives for impeachment after Trump called for players kneeling during the national anthem to be fired.20 Others called for impeachment over President Trump’s controversial statement on the Charlottesville protests.21 Rep. Steve Cohen’s (D-Tenn.) explained that “If the president can’t recognize the difference between these domestic terrorists and the people who oppose their anti-American attitudes, then he cannot defend us.”22

These calls have been joined by an array of legal experts who have insisted that clear criminal conduct by Trump, including treason, have been shown in the Russian investigation. Professor Lawrence Tribe argued that Trump’s pardoning of former Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio is clearly impeachable and could even be overturned by the courts.23 Richard Painter, chief White House ethics lawyer for George W. Bush and a professor at the University of Minnesota Law School, declared that President Trump’s participation in fundraisers for Senators, a common practice of all presidents in election years, is impeachable. Painter insists that any such fundraising can constitute “felony bribery” since these senators will likely sit in judgment in any impeachment trial. Painter declared “This is a bribe. Any other American who offered cash to the jury before a trial would go to prison for felony bribery. But he can get away with it?”24

CNN Legal Analyst Jeff Toobin declared, on the air, that Trump could be impeached solely on the basis of a tweet in which Trump criticized then Attorney General Jeff Sessions for federal charges brought against two Republican congressman shortly before the mid-term elections.25 CNN Legal Analyst and former White House ethics attorney Norm Eisen claimed before the release of the Mueller report (which ultimately rejected any knowing collusion or conspiracy by Trump officials with Russian operatives) that the criminal case for collusion was “devastating” and that Trump is “colluding in plain sight.”26

More of Turley’s testimony:


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Absolutely dangerous. One must wonder if the Democrats even care. This is such a sham. But before it the division and hate was sown. If the Russians had set out, they could not find better dupes than the Democrats, who were already morally challenged. The three professors had lots of ideas, but their advocacy was most apparent, just like the rest that pretend to care for the country, yet reject the transition of power. Not to mention their policies sound catastrophic.

    This is unbridled abuse of power, using the instruments of government including security forces to create a web of deceit and manufactured/fabricated lies. This puts the Soviets, Chinese, Nazis to shame and displays the Deep State willful ability to step beyond the firewalls of protection set forth in the Constitutional .

    There is no Constitution, there is no due process, there is only the brute power of uncontrolled abuse of the US government. What the Dems have done is beyond sedition. When Sen. Graham warned of Dems taking power during the Kavanaugh hearings… I doubt even he knew what lengths they would really go to. This is shear terror in the making.

      Might quibble that the Soviets, Chinese, and Nazis are far worse, but that does not mean these people lack totalitarian tendencies.

        Focusing on their show trial chops. Agree…no gulags, no reeducation camps nor concentration camps…but the mindset that they are above the law puts the Dems in the same mindset. Further on down the road the differences become less and less.Their goal is the same as the others…and it starts with small steps. Germany was national socialism, the Soviets and Chinese international socialism ….now a globalist form with obliteration of any nationalist boundaries .

        As David Horowitz, himself a reformed New Leftist, so often says, “Inside every liberal is a totalitarian, screaming to get out.”

Brave Sir Robbin | December 4, 2019 at 9:43 pm

The Democrats are not dupes. They know exactly what they are doing, and that should frighten you even more.

    Leftists insist on calling a disagreement a “constitutional crisis” to evoke a sense of panic, of imbalance. They really want a change from the Framers’ system of limited, divided government to one of unlimited government. And THAT should frighten everyone. We have too many examples of what that means.

    “Let us face reality. The framers [of the Constitution] have simply been too shrewd for us. They have outwitted us. They designed separate institutions that cannot be unified [that’s the left’s scary goal] by mechanical linkages frail bridges (or) tinkering. If we are to turn the founders upside down we must directly confront the Constitutional structure they erected.”

    — James MacGregor Burns (an old leftist professor at Williams College in lefty Massachusetts putting mush into the heads of students; 1918-2014)

      fscarn in reply to pfg. | December 5, 2019 at 9:39 am

      “we [leftists] must directly confront the Constitutional structure they erected”

      Which is the aim of the leftists’ push to have a constitutional convention where they hope to do away, in a wholesale manner, any limitation that impedes total government.

I’ve been very impressed with (my) Rep. Ratcliffe. He’s obviously a very intelligent guy, and a pretty good interrogater.

I didn’t think it possible, but the Nadher hearing is a bigger bust than Schiff’s!

    Paul In Sweden in reply to Leslie Eastman. | December 5, 2019 at 2:04 am

    As a native born NewYorker, I see this(Nadler attack) as a continuation of the Nadler-Trump West-side Manhattan development project battle that Nadler mostly lost.

    I was surprised to see Turley being called as a Republican witness. It is apparent that my surprise and concern were unwarranted and that there are legal still eagles out there that can put aside partisan politics.

    Still smh… and very despondent about the political climate back home in the USA.

    BTW: People here in Sweden roll their eyes if “Greta” is mentioned.

I thought Turley conducted himself admirably and without the bias displayed by the other three goons.

I would have been happier if he was less deferential to those obvious political hacks.

But maybe being a Constitutional Law Professor gets you included into a small club and it is not wise to make too many waves?


The time to make waves, is yesterday!

The Democrats flatly don’t care about whether they have sufficient evidence or whether it sets a horrible precedent. They are either blinded by their raw hatred, or convinced that demographics will carry the day for them eventually. Probably both.

The real harbinger here is the rash of left wing prosecutors who simply refuse to enforce the law. It doesn’t matter what the Constitution says if the Democrats simply ignore it. This is the transitional phase, where Democrats seek a veneer of Constitutionality for their farrago. A false veneer, to be sure, but they know the age of the ipse dixit Constitution is not yet in their grasp.

    Edward in reply to Zumkopf. | December 5, 2019 at 7:17 am

    Alternatively, their irrational Leftist base wants impeachment while the Socialist-Democrat politicians thought (still think?) they can smear the President with enough of their dreck to greatly diminish his re-election chances. Those politicians saw this as the proverbial killing two birds with one stone, though in the event it appears they are on the way to killing their own election chances.

    Sonnys Mom in reply to Zumkopf. | December 5, 2019 at 9:19 am

    It’s pre-primary season campaign lobbying conducted on the House floor, but dressed up as a serious effort to protect the Republic so the Dems can escape getting censured. The whole “impeachment inquiry” sounds like a weird game show: “Opposition research! Live! On your TV!”

These Dems/Progs, along with their wholly owned subsidiary, the dinosaur media, is, and has been, for a few years trying to make political behaviour into criminal acts. If they survive this debacle and ever hold the Presidency, they better watch out. The R’s seem to be better prosecutors.

    Skipwatson1951 in reply to Romey. | December 5, 2019 at 9:43 am

    But the R’s believe in the constitution more than the D’s … so they won’t stoop to these kinds of tactics.

Paul In Sweden | December 5, 2019 at 2:28 am

Prof. Pamela S. Karlan stated that POTUS Trump can name his son, Baron but cannot make his teenage son a baron.

…smh because I do not know what to say.

    Consider which Socialist-Democrat she appeared to have practiced this “joke” with – good old Where’s the flag the astronauts left on Mars Sheila Jackson Lee.

    Then consider she apparently is so deranged with TDS she stated at a conference that she couldn’t walk on the same side of the DC street with the Trump hotel.

    Her non-apology apology was standard Socialist-Democrat fare, so no surprise there.

    She needs a mental health intervention.

    we might not have given them names like ‘Duke’, ‘Prince’, or ‘Baron’ but we have them none the less, how would nerdu wells like Chelse Clinton, Hunter Biden, Pelosi’s kids get the jobs they have. look at congress, the Kennedy seat in Mass, Conyers daughter I believe now occupies her fathers seat, they want to put Cumming wife in his seat in congress. the democrats do have royalty, they just don’t call it that

Pamela Karlan’s name had been tossed around during the Obama Administration as a possible SCOTUS Justice.

That dream died yesterday.

    In a heathy political system – or even a semi-healthy one – that would be true.

    But we live in a system where Barack Obama and William Jefferson Clinton were president, Nancy Pelosi is Speaker of the House, and the anti Semitic goons of the Squad are driving the ongoing coup against President Trump.

The “Press” has a moral duty to expose such fraud as this Dem circus. Instead, the “press” (deep state media) is part of the fraud. Utterly disgraceful.

It is the alternative media (e.g., LI, others) that are doing God’s work for the truth.

They soiled themselves.
Such an absolutely appropriate turn of phrase.

President Trump will not be our last president
Well, if the Dems have their way, he might be the last one we ever get to freely elect.

Impeachment,of what,for what,the Commiecrats are a sad joke and it’s on them.

Attributed to H. L. Mencken in 1926: “No one in this world, so far as I know — and I have searched the records for years, and employed agents to help me — has ever lost money by underestimating the intelligence of the great masses of the plain people. Nor has anyone ever lost public office thereby.”

Nearly a century later and we’ve not progressed one iota.


Prof. Turley made a cogent argument which would have easily swayed any apolitical court in the country to immediately refuse to entertain charges against anyone brought before it. And, it was ignored. Why? Because this is a wholly short-sighted political attack using the “powers” of the Congress for the personal gain of the Democrat Party and to protect the members of that party and their families from potential criminal charges. These people will destroy the nation to save themselves. Understand that this is not simply a political disagreement. This is an existential threat to this nation and our system of government.

It actually started when Gore challenged the 2000 election.

    pwaldoch in reply to rhhardin. | December 6, 2019 at 1:07 pm

    Yup! And to be honest, if any other Republican candidate from 2016 would have won the presidency, we’d still be seeing the same garbage impeachment attempts and derangement syndrome. The difference is Trump won, and fights back against the attacks against him. Thank God for him! Any other candidate would have already folded his cards and gone home.