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Professor Jonathan Turley Warns Democrat Attempt at Swift Impeachment Would Damage Constitution

Professor Jonathan Turley Warns Democrat Attempt at Swift Impeachment Would Damage Constitution

“It would create precedent for the impeachment of any president blamed for violent acts of others after using reckless language.”

George Washington University Law Professor Jonathan Turley is once again the voice of reason on matters of impeachment.

He writes at The Hill:

Swift new impeachment would damage the Constitution

The author Franz Kafka once wrote, “My guiding principle is this. Guilt is never to be doubted.” Democrats suddenly appear close to adopting that standard into the Constitution as they prepare for a second impeachment of President Trump. With seeking his removal for incitement, Democrats would gut not only the impeachment standard but also free speech, all in a mad rush to remove Trump just days before his term ends.

Democrats are seeking to remove Trump on the basis of his remarks to supporters before the rioting at the Capitol. Like others, I condemned those remarks as he gave them, calling them reckless and wrong. I also opposed the challenges to electoral votes in Congress. But his address does not meet the definition for incitement under the criminal code. It would be viewed as protected speech by the Supreme Court.

When I testified in the impeachment hearings of Trump and Bill Clinton, I noted that an article of impeachment does not have to be based on any clear crime but that Congress has looked to the criminal code to weigh impeachment offenses. For this controversy now, any such comparison would dispel claims of criminal incitement. Despite broad and justified condemnation of his words, Trump never actually called for violence or riots. But he urged his supporters to march on the Capitol to raise their opposition to the certification of electoral votes and to back the recent challenges made by a few members of Congress. Trump told the crowd “to peacefully and patriotically make your voices be heard.”…

So Congress is now seeking an impeachment for remarks covered by the First Amendment. It would create precedent for the impeachment of any president blamed for violent acts of others after using reckless language. What is worse are those few cases that would support this type of action. The most obvious is the 1918 prosecution of socialist Eugene Debs, who spoke against the draft in World War One and led figures like Woodrow Wilson to declare him a “traitor to his country.” Debs was arrested and charged with sedition, a new favorite term for Democrats to denounce Trump and Republicans who doubted the victory of Joe Biden.


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The Friendly Grizzly | January 12, 2021 at 8:16 am

Professor Turley, what makes you think the Democrats, or most of the Republicans for that matter, care about the Constitution?

The president’s alleged incitement of violence is just an excuse. The reason given for impeachment is less important to Nancy and company than sending a signal to anyone who thinks to carry on his work that there will be a price.

This whole situation is almost amusing. I’ll give Prof. Jacobson credit, in that he was never even thinking of defying the trend and trying to have Trump stay in office because he actually won the election.

He was right, the trend was unstoppable, and he got off the horse earlier than I did.

If we could get a good accounting of how this influence operation worked, it would be wonderful for the world to understand this historical event. But for now and the indefinite future, democracy is dead, probably worldwide. Everyone knows how to do a Dominion election now, and that it works!

The question is whether there was an imminent threat that the crowd would become violent at the Capitol. The First Amendment does not protect incitement. The President urged people to come to DC promising that “It will be wild.” I do not understand what President Trump was trying to achieve. As of Dec. 8, Title 3 of the US Code made the states’ results “conclusive”. The Electoral College then voted on December 14, and all that was left was opening the envelopes from the 50 states and DC and adding them up. Sending an angry mob to the counting ceremony, or asking VP Pence to disrupt the counting ceremony was a dead-end move.