Wednesday’s Judiciary Committee hearing was devastating to Democrats’ drive to impeach President Trump — thanks overwhelmingly to the one Republican-called witness, George Washington Law prof Jonathan Turley.
“This is an exceptionally narrow impeachment resting on the thinnest possible evidentiary record,” he warned. And “the problem is not simply that the record does not contain direct evidence of the president stating a quid pro quo,” but that “the House has not bothered to subpoena the key witnesses who would have such direct knowledge.”
Indeed, Turley termed the rush to impeach an abuse of power by the House — and not the only one.
Democrats are eyeing an impeachment count for obstruction of justice, simply because Trump has demanded court rulings before allowing top aides to testify in these hearings. Notes Turley, “If you make a high crime and misdemeanor out of going to the courts, it is an abuse of power. It’s your abuse of power. You’re doing precisely what you are criticizing the president for doing.”
He hit the point again and again, citing the 19th-century effort to remove President Andrew Johnson: It’s now “generally viewed as an abusive act of impeachment by most legal and historical scholars,” yet “has curiously been cited as a basis for the current impeachment.”
Above all, he slammed the House for its insane rush — ironically highlighted by Rep. Adam Schiff’s charge that Trump’s supposed crimes are worse than President Richard Nixon’s: “The claim that the Ukrainian controversy eclipses Watergate is unhinged from history,” when in fact “it is the difference between the comprehensive and the cursory; the proven and the presumed.” The House then only moved toward passing articles of impeachment after 14 months of hearings; this time, it hasn’t spent 10 weeks.
And “there is no explanation of why the matter must be completed by December.” Rushing simply because the Iowa caucuses are coming soon would be “inimical” to any proper process.
He noted that the House hasn’t come close to proving corrupt intent, or any kind of quid pro quo, or anything remotely resembling bribery — except that it has “advanced a capacious and novel view of bribery to fit the limited facts.”
But: “If impeachment is reduced to a test of creative redefinitions of crimes, no president will be confident in their ability to operate without the threat of removal.”
No, Trump’s call with Ukraine’s president wasn’t “perfect,” as the president claims: “The references to [Joe] Biden and his son were highly inappropriate. … That does not, however, make this a plausible case for bribery.”
“Trump does not state a quid pro quo in the call,” and if he “honestly believed that there was a corrupt arrangement with Hunter Biden that was not fully investigated by the Obama administration, the request for an investigation was not corrupt, notwithstanding its inappropriateness.”
“This is not how an American president should be impeached,” he concluded — as would be obvious to Democrats if the shoe were on the other foot.
Indeed, Turley wasn’t the only one to eviscerate the Democrats’ case. Republicans scored repeatedly by reading various comments from Chairman Jerry Nadler during the GOP drive to impeach President Bill Clinton about the harms inflicted on the nation by a purely partisan impeachment.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi probably thinks she’s gone too far to stop now. Too bad.