“Demonstrably False”: It Is Not True That The Johnson and Clinton Impeachments Had Shorter Impeachment Investigations

Today I posted a column addressing a false story circulating on MSNBC and other outlets that my testimony in the Clinton and Trump impeachments are in contradiction. In fact, the testimony is so close that I could be charged more with self-plagiarism than self-contradiction. However in the hearing there was another clearly false statement put into the record by the Democratic members: that I am “demonstrably wrong” in saying that this could be the fastest or shortest impeachment in history. While the effort is clearly designed to encourage people not to seriously consider my criticism of the record and process in this case, a little history — and my actual testimony — might be helpful.

The standard story being promulgated by critics is that the Clinton and Johnson impeachments were faster. That is not correct, though in my testimony I stressed that, with regard to Johnson, it depends on how you count the days. In order to suggest that there was a factual errors, critics used a transparently false construction: they used the date of the passage of impeachment resolutions rather than the underlying investigations to measure the time of investigation. It is ironic since the Democrats themselves are maintaining that they have been doing an “impeachment inquiry” well before their formal vote. Just as the legislative history of a bill can include hearings before the bill (or prior bills), we usually refer to “impeachments” as the during of the controversy and investigation leading to the adoption of articles of impeachment.

I understood that the word “impeachment” can be used in different ways, which is way I stressed that this depends on how your count the days. In both my oral testimony and written testimony, I referred to Johnson as the outlier and the question of how one uses this term.

What is particularly notable is that this false account knowingly evades the obvious point — and relevant measure. I testified that President Trump could be impeached for non-criminal conduct like abuse of power but that the record is woefully inadequate due to contradictions, missing witnesses, and unaddressed defenses. My point is that a few weeks and a dozen witnesses is a comparatively wafer-thin record to impeachment like Nixon and Clinton. The fact that one member waived around a binder to say the current record is not thin was bizarre. She would have had to literally drive a truck into the room to show the record in either modern presidential impeachment case of Clinton or Nixon.

The point is obviously the underlying investigations not the arbitrary dates of the resolution and passage of article of impeachment.

Here is the typical false account:

“The two other times presidents were impeached — Andrew Johnson in 1868 and Bill Clinton in 1998 — the impeachment process happened faster than the current process against Trump.

Johnson was impeached for removing Edwin Stanton as secretary of war without congressional approval. The entire process took less than a month.

According to a timeline of events, Johnson removed Stanton as secretary on Feb. 21, 1868. By Feb. 24, 1868 — just three days later — the House passed a resolution impeaching Johnson. And by March 4, 1868, the House delivered articles of impeachment to the Senate. That’s less than two weeks.

As for Clinton, the House voted on Oct. 5, 1998 to launch an impeachment inquiry. By Dec. 19, 1998, the House impeached Clinton. That’s 75 days.”

As I mentioned in my testimony, Clinton was the result of a long investigation by the Independent Counsel and, rather than having the same witnesses testify again, the Congress sent the articles to the floor and then the Senate. It was an exhaustive investigation.

It is really Johnson that is the only question of a faster impeachment. I testified “This impeachment would rival the Johnson impeachment as the shortest in history, depending on how one counts the relevant days.”

My testimony never adopted the measure of the technical resolutions. My point was the the underlying investigations (and thus fact gathering) have been longer. The passage of the resolution — as shown in the Trump case — are irrelevant to the foundation of the articles in the evidence-gathering process. So just in case you are interested in what I actually said in the hearing, here is what I wrote (and largely repeated in my oral testimony):

“The only non-modern presidential impeachment is an outlier in this sense. As I discussed below, the impeachment of Andrew Johnson was the shortest period from the underlying act (the firing of the Secretary of War) to the adoption of the articles of impeachment. However, the House had been preparing for such an impeachment before the firing and had started investigations of matters referenced in the articles. This was actually the fourth impeachment, with the prior three attempts extending over a year with similar complaints and inquiries. Thus, the actual period of the impeachment of Johnson and the operative record is debatable. I have previously discussed the striking similarities between the Johnson and Trump inquiries in terms of the brevity of the investigation and narrowest of the alleged impeachable offenses.”

Here is my full testimony:

182 thoughts on ““Demonstrably False”: It Is Not True That The Johnson and Clinton Impeachments Had Shorter Impeachment Investigations”

  1. Let’s start with the Constitution, which explicitly and unequivocally states that “The House of Representatives shall have the sole Power of Impeachement.” It also explicitly and unequivocally states that “The Senate shall have the sole Power to try all Impeachments.”

    Now the two main thrusts of your argument I took away were as follows: a) the record is rushed and undeveloped, and b) the Courts should have their say in the legitimacy of the process (i.e. obstruction of Congress).

    (B) is right out in any legally binding context. Your feelings or preferences on what is just are irrelevant. It should be clear that even the Framers contemplated the courts’ role because the chief justice presides in the trial (as opposed to what would be the VP). Even post-Marbury, the idea that the SCOTUS would decide for Congress whether it has been obstructed in its duty to the people is beyond comprehension.

    Put simply: how would the Supreme Court opine on a power that is Constitutionally excluded from their deference? How would they write an opinion telling Congress that they are wrong? Would it be a unanimous dissent with no force?

    (A) falls just as quickly. If the courts are able to decide what constitutes a substantive record or whether the House of Representatives has standing to bring their claims, then they are deciding on Congress’ sole power. Ignoring those words doesn’t make them go away. It is up to Congress, and Congress decides by voting.

    Needless to say I think your testimony that Congress’ exercise of Impeachment is abuse of power is an exemplary pinnacle of legal and political arrogance. You are a law professor, not a duly elected body that represents the United States in the aggregate.

    I won’t go deep into the politics, but I will assert that the record holds a parade of witnesses from Trump’s own administration, many of whom are unimpeachable lifelong servants recounting that they saw the same wrongdoing (we can assume legal behavior). That is not wafer thin, no matter how you slice it.

    And politically, what exactly is the good faith argument for Trump to deny witnesses in his administration from testifying? So-called “absolute immunity?”

    The protection against abuse of the Impeachment power is the required super-majority in the Senate. If the President gets impeached symbolically but not removed, then that is the will of the People. That was the Framers’ vision, which was written and ratified in the Constitution. The relevant clauses remain unamended to this day.

  2. America’s attorney said there is no abuse of power, no bribery, no obstruction of justice and no obstruction of Congress.

    America’s attorney revealed that the communists (i.e. liberals, progressives, socialists, democrats) have descended into hysteria, incoherence, chaos, anarchy and rebellion.

    God save Professor Turley.

    God save the Republic.

  3. drbopperthp – the Democrats got three professors to prostitute themselves and slander the President as well.

  4. I was against the Clinton impeachment even though Clinton did lie under oath

    I am against this impeachment because there is no evidence of crime especially the case democrats have against Trump.

    If they can do that to Trump they will do it for everyone else who dares to go against the neoconservatives war machine.

  5. Do Internet trolls troll for Internet fish? Or do they wait under bridges as in Fremont?

    I once took the bus past Trollhjemfjellet, the Hall of the Mountain King.

  6. Well it isn’t only MSNBC that has noted contradictions by Turley in the Clinton and Trump impeachments.


    I happen to think Turley was bending over backwards to appear non-partisan in the Clinton case. And is doing so in the Trump case as well. In order to be consistent regarding the bar for impeachment, I think you to support both or oppose both.

    A caveat to the CATO article. The standard for an indictment is different for the jury standard of conviction. But an ethical prosecutor does not pursue an indictment unless he is sure of the defendants guilt beyond a reasonable doubt i.e. the jury standard. The reason for the legal distinction is because a prosecutor often does not want to reveal his whole case to the grand jury when seeking an indictment. The distinction was not made so that ethical prosecutors could pursue a case where they were not themselves convinced beyond a reasonable doubt based on the totality of the evidence.

    So the idea that House members are behaving ethically by using a different standard for impeachment as opposed to the Senate at trial is specious.


    Jonathan Turley, the sole Republican witness during the House Judiciary Committee’s first public impeachment hearing Wednesday, said he was “inundated with threatening messages” after his testimony, which argued that Democrats do not have enough evidence to support articles of impeachment against President Trump.

    “Before I finished my testimony, my home and office were inundated with threatening messages and demands that I be fired from George Washington University for arguing that, while a case for impeachment can be made, it has not been made on this record,” Turley wrote in an op-ed for The Hill on Thursday.

    Edited from: “Johnathan Turley Inundated With Threatening Messages After Oppossing Trump Impeachment”

    Fox News, 12/5/19
    One sympathizes with the Professor. No part of his testimony warranted personal threats. And I sincerely hope said threats are all completely hollow.

    Ironically, however, liberal commentators on this blog are treated just as shabbily. The core, conservative commenters will resort to any dirty trick, including slander, to shut liberals up. If liberals dare to call the slander what is, they are promptly expelled from this blog.

    1. Tim Murphy – since this is a blog, it would be libel, not slander. And I, as a conservative, have been attacked on a daily basis. You get kicked off if you break the Civility Rules. You just have to remember to respond within the boundaries of the Rules.

      1. PCS, perhaps you know. I understood online posts and comments to be clearly and obviously “opinion.” Are they opinion and is it possible for opinion to be slander or libel? Of course, damages are always difficult to establish and prove. Am I right? I checked my “thesaurus” (which you admonished me to “put away” years ago) and it seems to agree.

        1. George – slander is verbal, libel is written. However, considering the results of the Elon Musk case, the internet is now the Wild West. 😉

    2. Tim you talking about that ex priest Estovir. He keeps slandering folks. Then he posts that religious junk like he’s really good. Down here we call that a snake in the grass. How come no one push him off? Ain’t there no referee?

      1. I just started following this blog.  Turley’s testimony made me curious.  Then here I keep seeing the name Estovir.  Is he the featured commenter?  Seems a little bumptious.  I expected more from the Great Turley.  He should hire an editor to sharpen up this blog.

        1. Estovir is ignorable.

          In my opinion, Jonathan Turley tries to do too much. Less might well be more carefully crafted.

        2. VFR: Turley pens this legal current events blog post, on top of teaching at George Washington University, testifying before Congress, and being interviewed on the news.

          I’ve seen him post his thoughts in an article late at night. I suspect that one of his purposes is to start a more in depth discussion among the general public about current affairs than one gets in an echo chamber of identically minded people. He poses a question and then has the opportunity to hear what strangers think. You aren’t going to get this kind of back and forth on MSNBC.

          He’s not going to spend weeks editing his thoughts of the day. Ignore the occasional spelling errors and be grateful that you don’t have to go to GW to hear his analysis on events.

          There is no featured commenter, which you probably already know. If you post, it shows up.

          1. I’m on CST time. I was glad when P Turley stopped posting late at night when people/I were tired & needed to turn the PC off.

            Now he mostly posts early in the morning when people’s thoughts are not so reactionary as mine sometimes regrettable are.

            Hopefully tomorrow I’m not disappointed with the IG report as I had a really good day today & I’d enjoy another one tomorrow.

      2. Patriot, et al – Professor Turley has just a few rules for posts. No more than 3 links. No profanity. No death threats or similar level of going crazy, such as what was deleted the other day.

        Other than that, people are free to disagree and insult each other all day. Your post calling Estovir a snake in the grass and that religion is junk will remain up.

        Which you know. No one pushes Estovir off just like no one will push you off.

    1. Yes, that would explain how his subscribership increased 40% in the past two days.

      1. It has been many months since I have posted this insightful article but now might be a good refresher.

        Trolls just want to have fun


        In two online studies (total N = 1215), respondents completed personality inventories and a survey of their Internet commenting styles. Overall, strong positive associations emerged among online commenting frequency, trolling enjoyment, and troll identity, pointing to a common construct underlying the measures. Both studies revealed similar patterns of relations between trolling and the Dark Tetrad of personality: trolling correlated positively with sadism, psychopathy, and Machiavellianism, using both enjoyment ratings and identity scores. Of all personality measures, sadism showed the most robust associations with trolling and, importantly, the relationship was specific to trolling behavior. Enjoyment of other online activities, such as chatting and debating, was unrelated to sadism. Thus cyber-trolling appears to be an Internet manifestation of everyday sadism.


        Dark Tetrad
        Dark Triad
        Antisocial Personality
        Internet behavior

        1. I remember reading that some time recently, perhaps it was your citation, and found it quite interesting and logical. As an addition I propose that it was the internet who brought forth the “troll” personality trait into commonality. Formerly, in the general media sense the process kept it away from the public forum. Mass communication was either on an individual constraint and selective for mass media.

          While in the past the troll type could pick up a phone and harass an individual, the scope for which he became an irritation was serialized by having to call each person and harass them. The other outlet begin newspapers, the person was never empowered to write articles or official content and was relegated to letters to the editor, which were mostly rejected.

          Then came BBS services but there was a time where a person had to be a bit of a computer enthusiast or have their act together to connect to others in this manner. This morphed into the NNTP protocoled “Usenet” The spillover cost of the protocol, as being a fairly open architecture, I believe did not take into account that marauding bad actors would take advantage and spam the Usenet with troll-like banter. When AOL hooked in, it unleashed a torrent of unprincipled “lamers” and the drama and foolishness came into play on an industrial scale. Whereas before civil discourse was manifest, now any Tom, Dick, and Harry could post whatever foolishness they desired. I remember when this happened and it was palpable. (See WIKI’s citation for Endless September) The internet was never the same.

          So now that we have a system where for the most part everyone has a roughly equal voice, we have to suffer its benefits. This is why a large software industry niche formulated to counter the sadist demographic and a great amount of money is made in the process due to the demand.

      2. What does that have to do with anything? If anything, it might prove Turley’s testimony was inspired by monetary concerns. MAGAts seem to have an affinity for convoluted logic.

        1. YNOT, Convoluted logic? Like calling for impeaching Mr. Trump before he ever got a chance to DO anything? Dimms were calling for impeachment as soon as Mr. T was sworn in. Who changed the whistleblower rules so that hearsay could be considered as evidence? And WHY??

          Convoluted logic? Like hiding in a basement and making one sided rules that excluded most defense that could be brought on Mr. Trump’s behalf, including witnesses?

          Mr. Turley isn’t a Repub & didn’t vote for Mr. T. But he STILL was honest enough to tell the truth. Very rare for today’s Dimms.

          Convoluted logic? Have you seen the video of former VP Biden bragging that he got the investigator who was looking into Burisma where Biden’s son was sitting on the board? Biden DID what Schiff accuses Mr. T of. Schiff lies. 0bama held back the weapon aid, Mr.. Trumps sent it in the form of Javelin missals.




          Schiff interrupted Nunes to keep from outing the whistleblower but Schiff said he didn’t know who the WB is. Schiff logic? Just because the WB met with Schiff’s staff…that doesn’t mean anything now does it.





          I am not so sure Pelosi, Schiff & Nadler want to go to the Senate with their made up as they go impeachment sideshow. If they do, Repubs can THEN open up the crap the dimms are trying to pull and expose the kabullkie theater for what it REALLY IS: a political coup.


          1. Sam Fox,

            You might not have been made aware but this website is configured to only permit two hyperlinks per comment. I edited your comment above to dereference the extra links so that it would post. If you wish for the readership to review more than two hyperlinks this may be accomplished by using multiple comments of two each.

            1. Darren, thank you for letting me know that. I will be taking your advice. I didn’t mean to go over a limit.


                1. Darren,

                  Your articles about kids dying from vaccines in AS plus it’s vaxx covering & news banning, ie; UN report etc., & the story of the gang rapes & murder in India both share at least one or more common thread.

                  1st is the big lie being shoved down our throats that Diversity is our Strength.

                  Most people in this country have nothing in common with a bunch of 3rd world throwbacks, ie: India/Persia/Arab lands, even CA/SA, that their gangs are running around raping & murdering.

                  Sundar Pichai, Head of Google/Youtube & a 3rd world POC has actively been Banning/Censoring our 1st Amendment/Free Speech/Religious, etc. for sometime now. That’s here in the US.

                  As in the US in Ireland we’re finding out that as these huge corporations move in, bring in these 3rd world Sholers that they are destroying local national cultures, like Ireland, & importing the culture from their Shole nation.

                  Pichai, UN, Globalist billionaires are actively engaging in election manipulation to drive out conservation voices/politicians & replace them with authoritarian Marxist/leftist/Islamic type nutjobs.

                  IE: Awhile back they were able get rid of the ban on abortions in Ireland. That’s Huge.

                  Anyway, I see so many stories, docs & fact docs it hard to remember it all. Like that Ireland stuff with it’s own vaccines problems of harming people/kids there.

                  David Knight show/banned.video 12/6/2019 around 48;00 min mark points to AS & the UN’s censorship of online pro safe Vaxx info.

                  I may look back at it for the details?

                  The larger point I’m make is that Pichai/Google, Tim Cook Apple, FB, Twitter, etc., that these large Corporations are using the money & political power & are moving into places like Oklahoma! , Austin Texas, etc.

                  We’ve been being invaded by these anti USA people/corps & it seems few notice.

                  One Corp I know has orders, layoff Americans & replace the with 3rd worlders from India. About 50% less pay because of US govt Dim/Rino polices.

                  I didn’t know, hell Google/Youtube are almost right out my back door. Pryor OK,

          1. LOL 🙂

            I wish wordpress still just posted the cartoons we’d post.

            I’m sure more enjoyed them like that as they scan.

            This was worth the click.

  8. Interesting hypothesis…..but is it plausible?

    Anything is possible


    Democrats Face the Bayonets

    “And so Nancy Pelosi may believe she had better have something in hand to bargain with President Trump to temper the fire that might just consume for decades the Democratic Party that lies behind this grotesque abuse of government power.

    So Pelosi’s pitch may be: Mr. Trump, we’ll drop the impeachment vote if you’ll call off Barr/Durham. You can then tweet all you want about what Horowitz reported (and we’ll rely on the MSM to smother it, and report our counter-spin), and we’ll yammer all we want about the serious case for impeachment that we’ve uncovered. But to save the country from the risk of hot war, we’ll drop our impeachment attack on you, and you’ll drop the Barr/Durham attack on our coup.”

  9. Jonathan: Looks like you are getting some liberal push back after your testimony with three other Constitutional experts at the hearing before the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday. Writing in the Nation yesterday Elie Mystal says: “(Turley’s) testimony was an attempt to distract and dissemble, offered at the behest of the Republican Party, which tapped him likely because it couldn’t find a legal scholar with less partisan baggage to make the same bad-faith arguments”…”Turley’s the hack they call when they don’t want to look like they’re calling in a hack”. Pretty strong stuff. I was going to reply to Mr. Mystal but couldn’t really find anything to say in your defense.

    1. ” I was going to reply to Mr. Mystal but couldn’t really find anything to say in your defense.”

      You could tell Mystal you troll Turley’s blog for free and enjoy throwing your excrement at him and hence lowering yourself to the level of Mystal.
      Alas, so many Democrats to mimic and so few blogs to troll, though clearly you fabricate enough excrement to raise the temperature of the Earth several degrees on the Celsius scale

    2. Mystal is an idiot, his writing stinks, and he’s little more than a hatchet man. NYT should fire him for this libel.

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