Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Turley’s Turn

 

Professor Jonathan Turley has upset the progressives — so he must be silenced. As Ann Althouse blogged Friday morning, Turley was excoriated in the Washington Post and The Nation. The charge? That he is now saying (on behalf of Trump) the opposite of what he was saying in testimony regarding Obama and Clinton. But is this true?

Professor Turley says not. In the Obama testimony, he urged Congress — a matter of separation of powers — to challenge Obama’s unilateral acts that encroached on legislative powers, not to impeach him. In the Clinton testimony, he took the position that House could impeach for a non-criminal act (just as they are doing here). But Turley testified in the case of Trump that the record needs to be developed in greater depth and detail than the House Democrats have deigned to do.

In other words, you need to do the hard and time-consuming work of gathering public evidence that persuades the nation’s voters of the extraordinary need to remove a president. To be sure, Turley is making a procedural argument and not passing on the substance of the charges. In this, he is again distinguishing himself from the other law professors who were more than willing to assert the truth of the charges that the Democrats are making.

One of Ann’s observations is directly on point:

There should have been a witness who did take the position that the President can only be impeached for criminal acts. Turley took a middle position, and perhaps he demonstrates the dangers of moderation. He’s drawing distinctions that his antagonists can fail or decline to see.

From this post and prior posts, I don’t infer that Ann is taking a position that Trump (or any president) can only be impeached for a crime delineated in the nation’s criminal code. But she highlights how important it is for the standard to be clear and not subject to political passions of the moment. That is best decided by strong and clear positions staked out by the contending parties. If impeachment does not require a crime, how much less than a crime does it take? How do you determine what that is if no one even argues that there must be a crime? That, as I interpret Ann, was a fatal weakness of the “law professor” day in front of the House Judiciary Committee.

So let me make the argument for what should be impeachable that is not a violation of the criminal code: nothing. Conjure up some conduct by the president that is not criminal and ask yourself whether that is a justified basis for involuntary removal from office before the expiration of the constitutionally prescribed term. Forget “crazy,” that’s already covered by the 25th amendment. Also recall that even when a crime is made, e.g., perjury, that removal is not automatic and may be waived.

So what action is there, really, that justifies impeachment (as opposed to censure) that is not criminal? Getting an action overturned by the Supreme Court? Never happened even though presidents have both won and lost cases there. Failing to spend money appropriated? It has happened (called Impoundment) and no president was impeached over it for 172 years. (Congress passed a law in 1974 to specify certain procedures to be followed.) Failing to “faithfully execute the laws?” Recall Obama “prosecutorial discretion” rationale to grant protections to illegal aliens. No impeachment there.

To call impeachment a “political act” is to say nothing. Everything that Congress does is a political act by definition. To say that impeachment can be justified by political disagreement is to remove the electorate from the process. At least in a parliamentary system, a vote of “no confidence” triggers a national election, even if prematurely. I would rather the House vote no confidence and have a national election in February, than for them to do what they are doing. Let’s get real: the Democrats do not like our constitution unless it can be twisted into anything they want it to be.

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There are 27 comments.

  1. Vectorman Thatcher

    Rodin: Let’s get real: the Democrats do not like our constitution anything unless it can be twisted into anything  what they want it to be.

    FIFY

    • #1
    • December 6, 2019, at 9:05 AM PST
    • 7 likes
  2. Jon1979 Lincoln

    Biden vs. the angry old guy in Iowa yesterday was another example of anyone straying from the narrative being targeted. ABC reported that the guy told them he couldn’t stand Trump, but had problems with Biden, but like Turley, he might as well have gone out in public with a MAGA hat, because most of the rest of the media and Democrats have zero room for nuance or tolerance when it comes to anything connected to Trump. There are no shades of gray, only black & white, and if you don’t toe the line, you’re going to get treated as the enemy.

    • #2
    • December 6, 2019, at 9:06 AM PST
    • 14 likes
  3. Ed G. Member
    Ed G. Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Jon1979 (View Comment):

    Biden vs. the angry old guy in Iowa yesterday was another example of anyone straying from the narrative being targeted. ABC reported that the guy told them he couldn’t stand Trump, but had problems with Biden, but like Turley, he might as well have gone out in public with a MAGA hat, because most of the rest of the media and Democrats have zero room for nuance or tolerance when it comes to anything connected to Trump. There are no shades of gray, only black & white, and if you don’t toe the line, you’re going to get treated as the enemy.

    I thought we were supposed to be the ones in a cult. Huh, whodathunkit?

    • #3
    • December 6, 2019, at 9:23 AM PST
    • 8 likes
  4. cdor Member
    cdor Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Remember the sanctimonious and hateful Stanford law professor voicing her childish vaudeville routine with Congress idiot Sheila Jackson Lee? According to her brilliant analysis, Trump was using the “imperial we” when he spoke to the Ukrainian President. They joked that even though Trump’s youngest son was named Barron, he couldn’t actually be a Barron in the United States. Haha, gee wiz you pompous witch, I didn’t know there is no royalty in our country. . .unless you are a Democrat named Clinton. But I do know that every time the President does something that some Democrat anywhere doesn’t like, they go to the nearest friendly court and get a nationwide injunction. What does King Trump do? Does he flip them the bird and go on about his business? No, he goes to court to overturn the injunction, legally. Where do they get this sense that Trump considers himself above the law? I’ll tell you where. They looked in the mirror and saw themselves. It’s the Democrats who have since day one, been trying to overcome the legal and proper vote of the people. It’s the Democrat politicians who are the imperial asses. After all, isn’t that the party’s mascot?

    • #4
    • December 6, 2019, at 9:32 AM PST
    • 7 likes
  5. Susan Quinn Contributor

    Even before we decide whether an impeachment charge has to break the law, there is the whole issue of “evidence.” I was so grateful to hear Turley say that if all their presumptions, were true, there might be reasons to impeach. But presumptions are not evidence. Great post, Rodin.

    • #5
    • December 6, 2019, at 9:50 AM PST
    • 12 likes
  6. Columbo Member

    What’s that old saying … a conservative is a liberal who has been mugged by reality?

    Welcome to the party, Professor Turley.

    • #6
    • December 6, 2019, at 10:27 AM PST
    • 7 likes
  7. Mark Camp Member

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    Even before we decide whether an impeachment charge has to break the law, there is the whole issue of “evidence.”

    [Emph. added]

    Susan,

    I agree that there is the issue of evidence. But I think it’s after the question of what’s impeachable. Until you’re accused, there can’t be evidence of what you’re accused of.

     

    • #7
    • December 6, 2019, at 10:58 AM PST
    • 4 likes
  8. Ian M Coolidge

    Rodin: But is this true?

    Never seems to be with those rags.

    Thanks for pointing this one out, I had missed it (no sarcasm, hard to get that across in type).

    • #8
    • December 6, 2019, at 11:01 AM PST
    • 1 like
  9. Ed G. Member
    Ed G. Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Mark Camp (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    Even before we decide whether an impeachment charge has to break the law, there is the whole issue of “evidence.”

    [Emph. added]

    Susan,

    I agree that there is the issue of evidence. But I think it’s after the question of what’s impeachable. Until you’re accused, there can’t be evidence of what you’re accused of.

     

    I almost agree.

    Allegation > Evidence > Judgement > Consequence/Sentence

    Stage one is all over the map and ambiguous. For all versions of stage one that might qualify as a crime or as inappropriate there is little to no evidence. If stages one through three solidify then we can consider whether impeachment is a reasonable or even legitimate consequence. 

    • #9
    • December 6, 2019, at 11:43 AM PST
    • 4 likes
  10. Mark Camp Member

    Ed G. (View Comment):

    Mark Camp (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    Even before we decide whether an impeachment charge has to break the law, there is the whole issue of “evidence.”

    [Emph. added]

    Susan,

    I agree that there is the issue of evidence. But I think it’s after the question of what’s impeachable. Until you’re accused, there can’t be evidence of what you’re accused of.

     

    I almost agree.

    Allegation > Evidence > Judgement > Consequence/Sentence

    Stage one is all over the map and ambiguous. For all versions of stage one that might qualify as a crime or as inappropriate there is little to no evidence. If stages one through three solidify then we can consider whether impeachment is a reasonable or even legitimate consequence.

     

    Suppose we are at Stage one: there is an allegation that the President ate sweet potatoes for dinner one night.

    It’s true that, with regard to the issue of evidence,

    “presumptions…” (of sweet potato eating, in this case) “…aren’t evidence” (of sweet potato eating.)

    My point is that if eating sweet potatoes is not determined to be impeachable, then that issue is irrelevant.

     

     

     

    • #10
    • December 6, 2019, at 1:04 PM PST
    • 9 likes
  11. Stad Thatcher

    Impeachment itself is a political action. However, it must be taken for the right reasons, none of which Trump has come close to. A Founding Father (forgot which one) feared impeachment would become a political tool used by “factions” (political parties today), and we are seeing his fears played out. Schiff failed to make the crime fit the actions, so now it’s Nadler’s job to try and make chicken salad out of you-know-what.

    Bill Clinton committed an actual crime, so at least there was some logical reason for impeachment. We can argue all day if his crime was truly worthy of removal from office. OTOH, Trump has not committed any crimes; he has acted in a manner as most Presidents before him other than Nixon.

    • #11
    • December 6, 2019, at 1:20 PM PST
    • 8 likes
  12. Mark Camp Member

    Stad (View Comment):
    Impeachment itself is a political action.

    Yeah, that’s what they keep telling me.

    But I’m not gung ho on that idea, to be honest.

    (If the Founding Fathers really meant it to be a political action, they wouldn’t have given any conditions. But in fact they did: “high crimes or misdemeanors”. So says my not-a-lawyer but not completely incapable mind.)

    • #12
    • December 6, 2019, at 1:30 PM PST
    • 3 likes
  13. OmegaPaladin Moderator

    Mark Camp (View Comment):

    Ed G. (View Comment):

    Mark Camp (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    Even before we decide whether an impeachment charge has to break the law, there is the whole issue of “evidence.”

    [Emph. added]

    Susan,

    I agree that there is the issue of evidence. But I think it’s after the question of what’s impeachable. Until you’re accused, there can’t be evidence of what you’re accused of.

     

    I almost agree.

    Allegation > Evidence > Judgement > Consequence/Sentence

    Stage one is all over the map and ambiguous. For all versions of stage one that might qualify as a crime or as inappropriate there is little to no evidence. If stages one through three solidify then we can consider whether impeachment is a reasonable or even legitimate consequence.

     

    Suppose we are at Stage one: there is an allegation that the President ate sweet potatoes for dinner one night.

    It’s true that, with regard to the issue of evidence,

    “presumptions…” (of sweet potato eating, in this case) “…aren’t evidence” (of sweet potato eating.)

    My point is that if eating sweet potatoes is not determined to be impeachable, then that issue is irrelevant.

     

     

    If they are candied sweet potatoes with marshmallows it is legit. Any other yam is impeachable (or peachcobblerable)

     

    • #13
    • December 6, 2019, at 2:10 PM PST
    • 5 likes
  14. Weeping Member

    cdor (View Comment):
    But I do know that every time the President does something that some Democrat anywhere doesn’t like, they go to the nearest friendly court and get a nationwide injunction. What does King Trump do? Does he flip them the bird and go on about his business? No, he goes to court to overturn the injunction, legally. Where do they get this sense that Trump considers himself above the law?

    Exactly what I’ve been wondering since the man took office.

    • #14
    • December 6, 2019, at 2:41 PM PST
    • 5 likes
  15. Sweezle Member

    I kind of like that Nancy is going to fast track her version of impeachment. It leaves no doubt that this is a fabricated political ploy having nothing to do with any crime. 

    • #15
    • December 6, 2019, at 2:59 PM PST
    • 2 likes
  16. Mark Camp Member

    Weeping (View Comment):

    cdor (View Comment):
    But I do know that every time the President does something that some Democrat anywhere doesn’t like, they go to the nearest friendly court and get a nationwide injunction. What does King Trump do? Does he flip them the bird and go on about his business? No, he goes to court to overturn the injunction, legally. Where do they get this sense that Trump considers himself above the law?

    Exactly what I’ve been wondering since the man took office.

    Me too. 

    I think people who make this vicious assault on the President are VERY unfairly questioning his lack of intelligence, character, and education.

    I picture The Donald responding to this accusation with, “Law? If you’re President there’s still Law!? What a loser you are! LOSER!”

     

    • #16
    • December 6, 2019, at 3:43 PM PST
    • 2 likes
  17. CarolJoy, Above Top Secret Coolidge

    For those here who have twitter, the law professor’s testimony snippet:

    Turley states: “If you impeach a President – if you make a high crime and misdemeanor out of going to the courts, it is an abuse of power. it is your abuse of power!”

    https://twitter.com/i/status/1202285918763270145

    Turley has no problem with Trump making an appeal to the courts. In fact, that is his right as a private citizen and as a President

    • #17
    • December 6, 2019, at 9:16 PM PST
    • 3 likes
  18. Clifford A. Brown Contributor

    Stad (View Comment):

    Impeachment itself is a political action. However, it must be taken for the right reasons, none of which Trump has come close to. A Founding Father (forgot which one) feared impeachment would become a political tool used by “factions” (political parties today), and we are seeing his fears played out. Schiff failed to make the crime fit the actions, so now it’s Nadler’s job to try and make chicken salad out of you-know-what.

    Bill Clinton committed an actual crime, so at least there was some logical reason for impeachment. We can argue all day if his crime was truly worthy of removal from office. OTOH, Trump has not committed any crimes; he has acted in a manner as most Presidents before him other than Nixon.

     Governeur Morris, credited with the eventual agreement to have an independent executive, raised the danger of impeachment as a tool of legislative supremacy during the Constitutional Convention. Alexander Hamilton, acknowledged the issue, but then explained it away in Federalist 65. It is fair to say the Framers’ impeachment fears have been realized.

     

    • #18
    • December 7, 2019, at 6:35 AM PST
    • 5 likes
  19. Stad Thatcher

    Mark Camp (View Comment):

    Stad (View Comment):
    Impeachment itself is a political action.

    Yeah, that’s what they keep telling me.

    But I’m not gung ho on that idea, to be honest.

    (If the Founding Fathers really meant it to be a political action, they wouldn’t have given any conditions. But in fact they did: “high crimes or misdemeanors”. So says my not-a-lawyer but not completely incapable mind.)

    Yes, it is a political action, but it is not supposed to be used for political reasons – hence the fear it would be, as we are seeing today. The House is trying to turn a President’s duties into high crimes and misdemeanors because he won . . .

    • #19
    • December 7, 2019, at 8:50 AM PST
    • 3 likes
  20. Bruce Caward Thatcher
    Bruce Caward Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Weeping (View Comment):

    cdor (View Comment):
    But I do know that every time the President does something that some Democrat anywhere doesn’t like, they go to the nearest friendly court and get a nationwide injunction. What does King Trump do? Does he flip them the bird and go on about his business? No, he goes to court to overturn the injunction, legally. Where do they get this sense that Trump considers himself above the law?

    Exactly what I’ve been wondering since the man took office.

    Same with lying – they keep saying he is the biggest liar since Jon Lovitz. Liar liar liar. But they never produce any actual lies. I think he is probably the least lying politician I’ve seen.

    • #20
    • December 7, 2019, at 10:37 AM PST
    • 1 like
  21. Weeping Member

    Bruce Caward (View Comment):

    Weeping (View Comment):

    cdor (View Comment):
    But I do know that every time the President does something that some Democrat anywhere doesn’t like, they go to the nearest friendly court and get a nationwide injunction. What does King Trump do? Does he flip them the bird and go on about his business? No, he goes to court to overturn the injunction, legally. Where do they get this sense that Trump considers himself above the law?

    Exactly what I’ve been wondering since the man took office.

    Same with lying – they keep saying he is the biggest liar since Jon Lovitz. Liar liar liar. But they never produce any actual lies. I think he is probably the least lying politician I’ve seen.

    It seems to me that a lot of what they call lying is simply hyperbole and/or chest-thumping rhetoric. Me? I don’t really see that as lying. 

    • #21
    • December 7, 2019, at 10:42 AM PST
    • 6 likes
  22. Rodin Member
    Rodin

    Weeping (View Comment):

    Bruce Caward (View Comment):

    Weeping (View Comment):

    cdor (View Comment):
    But I do know that every time the President does something that some Democrat anywhere doesn’t like, they go to the nearest friendly court and get a nationwide injunction. What does King Trump do? Does he flip them the bird and go on about his business? No, he goes to court to overturn the injunction, legally. Where do they get this sense that Trump considers himself above the law?

    Exactly what I’ve been wondering since the man took office.

    Same with lying – they keep saying he is the biggest liar since Jon Lovitz. Liar liar liar. But they never produce any actual lies. I think he is probably the least lying politician I’ve seen.

    It seems to me that a lot of what they call lying is simply hyperbole and/or chest-thumping rhetoric. Me? I don’t really see that as lying.

    President Trump, First Lady Melania, cabinet members, congressional leaders, reporters and some academics all visit a modern art gallery and pause in front of a large Rothko abstract.

    After a few seconds of gazing the group starts discussing it. The academics start debating the shades. Is it Tufts, Yale, Evening in Paris, Persian Indigo? The reporters state a preference for Deep Cyan. The cabinet members remain silent prudently waiting for the president’s judgment. “It’s blue! OK?! Let’s move on” says Trump. Reporters report that Trump lies about the Rothko.

    • #22
    • December 7, 2019, at 11:37 AM PST
    • 3 likes
  23. Mark Camp Member

    Stad (View Comment):

    Yes, it is a political action, but it is not supposed to be used for political reasons

    Stad, I don’t understand this distinction, and to be honest, I’ve never heard this constitutional theory. Could you give me a reference for it, or explain it?

    • #23
    • December 7, 2019, at 3:14 PM PST
    • 2 likes
  24. Stad Thatcher

    Mark Camp (View Comment):

    Stad (View Comment):

    Yes, it is a political action, but it is not supposed to be used for political reasons

    Stad, I don’t understand this distinction, and to be honest, I’ve never heard this constitutional theory. Could you give me a reference for it, or explain it?

    I’ll try. The Founding Fathers knew a President could become corrupt and assume powers he didn’t have, or do things to harm the country. They came up with a mechanism for removal, called impeachment by the House, and a trial and conviction by the Senate. Coming up with a specific list of what could get a President removed was problematic, so we end up with treason (obvious), bribery (obvious, but not the definition the Dems are using) and “high crimes and misdemeanors” – a non-specific catchall that lets Congress decide (hence, the problem we face today).

    The process of impeachment and conviction is similar to, but not the same as a regular criminal trial. A President can be removed for non-criminal actions or behavior. Therefore, the action taken is political. Hamilton in Federalist 65:

    “A well-constituted court for the trial of impeachments is an object not more to be desired than difficult to be obtained in a government wholly elective. The subjects of its jurisdiction are those offenses which proceed from the misconduct of public men, or, in other words, from the abuse or violation of some public trust. They are of a nature which may with peculiar propriety be denominated POLITICAL, as they relate chiefly to injuries done immediately to the society itself. The prosecution of them, for this reason, will seldom fail to agitate the passions of the whole community, and to divide it into parties more or less friendly or inimical to the accused. In many cases it will connect itself with the pre-existing factions, and will enlist all their animosities, partialities, influence, and interest on one side or on the other; and in such cases there will always be the greatest danger that the decision will be regulated more by the comparative strength of parties, than by the real demonstrations of innocence or guilt.”

    He and others (I believe not in the Federalist papers) were concerned factions would reduce the impeachment process to one side impeaching the other side’s guy for any reason, thus rendering a political action taken for the wrong reason – politics.

    I’m no expert. You have to read the Federalist Papers (and Anti-Federalist as well), then find quotes and statements made by the Founding Fathers in other areas (such as Jefferson’s infamous “Wall of Separartion” quote). What makes the process hard is their language is well above what the average person today uses. They were smart and well educated . . .

    • #24
    • December 8, 2019, at 2:17 PM PST
    • 2 likes
  25. Jon1979 Lincoln

    Stad (View Comment):

    Mark Camp (View Comment):

    Stad (View Comment):

    Yes, it is a political action, but it is not supposed to be used for political reasons

    Stad, I don’t understand this distinction, and to be honest, I’ve never heard this constitutional theory. Could you give me a reference for it, or explain it?

    I’ll try. The Founding Fathers knew a President could become corrupt and assume powers he didn’t have, or do things to harm the country. They came up with a mechanism for removal, called impeachment by the House, and a trial and conviction by the Senate. Coming up with a specific list of what could get a President removed was problematic, so we end up with treason (obvious), bribery (obvious, but not the definition the Dems are using) and “high crimes and misdemeanors” – a non-specific catchall that lets Congress decide (hence, the problem we face today).

    I’m no expert. You have to read the Federalist Papers (and Anti-Federalist as well), then find quotes and statements made by the Founding Fathers in other areas (such as Jefferson’s infamous “Wall of Separartion” quote). What makes the process hard is their language is well above what the average person today uses. They were smart and well educated . . .

    They also assumed that future Congresses would take the enormity of the matter seriously, and not use impeachment as a harassment tool against the president, as is the case now with the Democrats (to the point you already have House members like Al Green saying if the Senate fails to convict and Trump is re-elected in 2020, the Democrats will just impeach him again in the House in 2021). It’s a combination of a lack of seriousness, a lack of concern about the Constitution, and a simple desire for power by any means they think they have available. And these are the same people who frequently talk about eliminating or ignoring the parts of the Constitution they don’t like, so they see nothing wrong with repeatedly using the process for nakedly partisan reasons.

     

    • #25
    • December 8, 2019, at 2:26 PM PST
    • 3 likes
  26. CarolJoy, Above Top Secret Coolidge

    Weeping (View Comment):

    Bruce Caward (View Comment):

    Weeping (View Comment):

    cdor (View Comment):
    But I do know that every time the President does something that some Democrat anywhere doesn’t like, they go to the nearest friendly court and get a nationwide injunction. What does King Trump do? Does he flip them the bird and go on about his business? No, he goes to court to overturn the injunction, legally. Where do they get this sense that Trump considers himself above the law?

    Exactly what I’ve been wondering since the man took office.

    Same with lying – they keep saying he is the biggest liar since Jon Lovitz. Liar liar liar. But they never produce any actual lies. I think he is probably the least lying politician I’ve seen.

    It seems to me that a lot of what they call lying is simply hyperbole and/or chest-thumping rhetoric. Me? I don’t really see that as lying.

    When the New Left’s pervasive media recently announced that Trump had lied some 10,000 times since assuming the office of President, they included his statement: “I am not a racist” as another one of his lies.

    • #26
    • December 9, 2019, at 12:11 PM PST
    • 1 like
  27. cdor Member
    cdor Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    CarolJoy, Above Top Secret (View Comment):

    Weeping (View Comment):

    Bruce Caward (View Comment):

    Weeping (View Comment):

    cdor (View Comment):
    But I do know that every time the President does something that some Democrat anywhere doesn’t like, they go to the nearest friendly court and get a nationwide injunction. What does King Trump do? Does he flip them the bird and go on about his business? No, he goes to court to overturn the injunction, legally. Where do they get this sense that Trump considers himself above the law?

    Exactly what I’ve been wondering since the man took office.

    Same with lying – they keep saying he is the biggest liar since Jon Lovitz. Liar liar liar. But they never produce any actual lies. I think he is probably the least lying politician I’ve seen.

    It seems to me that a lot of what they call lying is simply hyperbole and/or chest-thumping rhetoric. Me? I don’t really see that as lying.

    When the New Left’s pervasive media recently announced that Trump had lied some 10,000 times since assuming the office of President, they included his statement: “I am not a racist” as another one of his lies.

    Yep, sounds about right.

    • #27
    • December 9, 2019, at 1:03 PM PST
    • 2 likes