George Washington University Law School professor Jonathan Turley testifies during a hearing before the House Judiciary Committee on the constitutional grounds for the impeachment of President Donald Trump, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2019. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley appeared on CBS and offered his most biting criticism of the House Democrats’ efforts to impeach the President yet. Coming from someone who does not support and did not vote for President Trump, his comments are especially significant.
The CBS panel had been discussing the second Article of Impeachment on Thursday when Turley said, “I think that this is one where the House is completely unmoored by history and by the law. And I think that this will go down as one of the greatest historic blunders of a House of Congress.”
Jonathan Turley, well-known constitutional law expert (and liberal Democrat!) says Democrats' rushed impeachment process will "go down as one of the greatest historic blunders of a House of Congress."
— Senate Republicans (@SenateGOP) January 24, 2020
Although Turley is a liberal Democrat, he’s able to maintain objectivity at a time when most Americans are finding that impossible, myself included. Turley is bold, he states his opinions and doesn’t seem to care how they’re received.
In early December, Turley appeared at the House Judiciary Committee’s first hearing on a panel of four expert legal witnesses. The Democrats chose three and the Republicans were allowed to choose one. They chose Turley. And they weren’t sorry.
As the impeachment inquiry rambled on, the Democrats frequently “tried out” different charges to see which ones might resonate with the American people. In early December, they had tossed aside “quid pro quo” and seemed to favor “bribery.” During his testimony, Turley calmly shot it down.
The statement has been made, not just by these witnesses, but Chairman Schiff and others that this is a clear case of bribery. It’s not and Chairman Schiff said that it might not fit today’s definition of bribery, but it would fit the definition back in the eighteenth century. Now putting aside Mr. Schiff’s turn toward originalism, I think it might come as a relief to him and his supporters that his career will be a short one. There’s not an originalist future in that argument. The bribery theory being put forward is as flawed in the eighteenth century as it is in this century.
At another point in the hearing, Turley addressed the Democrats’ charges that President Trump had abused his power by turning to the courts to fight the Democrats’ subpoenas.
If you make a high crime or a misdemeanor out of going to the courts, it is an abuse of power. (He turns toward the Democrats.) It’s your abuse of power. You’re doing precisely what you are criticizing the President for doing. We have a third branch that deals with conflicts of the other two branches. And what comes out of there and what you do with it is the definition of legitimacy.
This point is frequently made by Harvard Law professor Alan Dershowitz, who will be making this argument on the Senate in the near future on the President’s behalf. If he is half as effective in his delivery as Turley was in the video below, it might even convince a couple of Democrats to defect.
Prof. Turley slams Dems on impeachment: this is “your abuse of power” pic.twitter.com/Yxu4KhaYTs
— Steve Guest (@SteveGuest) January 23, 2020