“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:

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

  1. It is a shame that you have to defend yourself against the members of your party, but I’m sure you, as we all did, knew that was coming.

  2. Biden has joined the rest of the Dims….nucken futs all of them

    Joe Biden Lashes Out At Voter After He Calls Biden Out On Ukraine: “You’re A Damn Liar”

    1. Corrupt comrade Joe, who has never held a job, created wealth or met a payroll, has been running for 50 years. That alone is corrupt in so far as the original intent of the Founders was for temporary service to the country by successful captains of industry engaged in free enterprise who would return to their enterprises after brief terms as public servants – not beneficiaries and dependents on the public dole like comrade Biden and his son.

    2. Biden calls him too old to vote for him. If that is so, I see Biden as overly RIPE to be a presidential candidate for the DEMs. Hell, for any party, except the party of death warmed over.

  3. Once you say one pro-Trump word, you are on the media thrasher list. What really bugs them is you had more to say, in less than 1/3 the time, than the other professors combined.

  4. JT, your opinions on the subject are moot, that Train has left the docks. The cows have come home to roost.

    1. The cows have come home to roost.

      I gather ‘Fishwings’ is a bot set up by Correct-the-Record.

      1. “I gather ‘Fishwings’ is a bot set up by Correct-the-Record.”
        He’s so stiff, robotic and non-reflexive in its commentary I think we talking electronic all the way. Good dig.

        1. LOL….that makes sense coming from you guys. Maybe if I had the joke put in Russian, ya might have got it.

  5. Dr. Turley,

    Now that you have everyone’s attention, it’s time to compare and contrast the structure of the current proceedings to those of the past and ask..

    Why have the Democrats sought to limit the fact-finding efforts of US Representatives?

    Why did the Democrats used the House Intel committee for controlled fact-finding?

    Why haven’t the Democrats gone to court to enforce so-called House Intel subpoenas?

    We need to know the answer to these questions.


  6. Prof Turley, so what!?

    The question is not at all how quickly or slowly the investigation went, but rather whether there is now sufficient evidence to establish, fairly, that Trump tried to strong-arm Ukraine into publicly committing to investigate Joe Biden. And whether this was in exchange for Trump releasing the approved $400 million in defense moneys to Ukraine. You said that what Trump did was “inappropriate” or some such. To most of the rational world, it is an impeachable offense.

    1. Prof Turley, so what!?

      He’s replying to a discrete criticism of his work. That’s what academics do. This isn’t that difficult.

          1. To Absurd – Wrong. Turley’s thesis is that the Trump investigation was quicker, shorter than the others – and that evidence is slimmer. The sole “legal” difference according to Turley is that with Nixon and Clinton there was a specific proven violation of criminal law: obstruction of justice and perjury. Trump is equally guilty of a legal violation: call it bribery or extortion of Ukraine. And the evidence is more than strong enough for a conviction before a rational and unbiased jury. Plus, Trump was undermining our national interest to protect Ukraine against Russia.

            1. Trump is equally guilty of a legal violation: call it bribery or extortion of Ukraine.

              Only in the imagination of partisan Democrats. Intellectually, you people just aren’t worth anything.

              1. “Only in the imagination of partisan Democrats. Intellectually, you people just aren’t worth anything.”

                Only in the mind of TIA x XV.

                1. Betwixt and Between, Diane, you might review Turley’s remarks on the Democrats’ inclination to define a challenge to one of their subpoenas as an impeachable offense.

            2. RDKAY:
              “Turley’s thesis is that the Trump investigation was quicker, shorter than the others – and that evidence is slimmer.

              No he used the word “paucity,” (not “slimmer”) as in small and insufficient. That translates into plain English to “nothing.” In law it means, “not guilty.”

    2. Turley and others are saying the Dems’ effort to dupe people with the 2+2=4 rhetoric does not establish evidence of quid pro quo.

      Yes, Trump delayed release of funding. However, as Ms. Cooper and Ms. Williams testified this was done lawfully, and had no material impact on Ukrainian operations.

      Yes, Trump was seeking investigations into Biden’s admitted extortion of Ukraine officials.

      Yes, Trump was seeking knowledge about the Crowdstrike server, which was never provided to US intelligence services for examination, even though they claimed it was hacked.

      There are perfectly legitimate reasons that Trump would pursue each of these topics.

      ALL of the witnesses have said that they had no direct knowledge that any of these were linked in a quid pro quo deal.

      However, because Dems desperately want these topics to be linked, Dems have carefully controlled the docket so that no other witnesses could be called who would explain the legitimate independent reasons for these actions.

      Dems basically don’t want to hear anything that would interfere with their conspiracy theory.

  7. Jon, you came across as contradicting yourself in testimony in Clinton’s impeachment and your arguments were very thin. For instance, you criticize Democrats for not getting more witnesses to testify and not gathering more documents, but Trump is the one blocking the Democrats from obtaining this additional evidence. How is that not obstruction of justice? According to you, Congress is supposed to constantly go to court to coerce Trump’s cooperation. If he’s done nothing wrong, then why not cooperate? Does Trump have the right to issue blanket refusals to produce all documents and to try to prevent all witnesses from testifying? Where is the legal authority for the proposition that a president can prevent Congress from conducting its oversight responsibilities by ignoring subpoenas? Trump’s strategy appear to be block, obstruct, drag out the process, and get it before the SCOTUS, where he believes that Kavanaugh and Gorsuch will save him. Obstructing Congress is an impeachable offense. Trump has no legal leg to stand on when it comes blanket refusals to cooperate. There could be item-by-item assertions of privilege or other grounds for objecting to specific questions or documents, but that’s not what we have here. We have a total refusal to cooperate based on no legal authority whatsoever. That should alarm all Americans.

    So, what are Democrats supposed to do–ignore Trump’s attempt to leverage aid to Ukraine for political purposes by trying to get the Ukrainian President to smear his political adversary as a crook? Why did his alleged concern for corruption only begin after polls showed Biden beating him, and why does the only corruption he allegedly wants to investigate involve the Bidens? He’s had over 3 years to do something about his alleged concerns about corruption, so why didn’t he act sooner? And, as Nancy Pelosi made clear today, this impeachment isn’t just about the Ukrainian scandal–it will include all of the findings by Mueller, especially Trump’s obstruction of that investigation. So, the impeachment investigation really started when Mueller began investigating Trump. The Ukrainian matter was just another large log on a smoldering fire.

    1. Natasha–thank goodness there is one person who reads Jonny and is not a sycophant for Trump (or Jonny).

  8. “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.”
    They burn every bridge, sacrifice every friend and run down even mild opposition and all to what purpose? Why it’s unrestrained power.

    Lies, damn lies and Democrats.

  9. This column could’ve been limited to, “The effort is clearly designed to encourage people not to seriously consider my criticism of the record and process in this case.” This is what some networks do. They sort through the various statements, like testimonies, to find one debatable statement, then they focus on such statements so they don’t have to attempt to refute the theme of such testimonies. It’s childish.

    1. JT loves to throw the red meat to his hounds who obey his orders like good Pavlovians. One can see the result here.

      1. We love it when we encounter the personification of objectivity. Someone so pure in thought that they do not have biases in anyway. It is so rare to meet these people every minute of every day that we don’t really bother to remember their anonymous names.

  10. Contrary to the belief of some Pelosi is not in automatic line up for Prez unless both the Prez and VP die at the same time. Nor does Pelosi jump offices if the VP becomes the President.

    “… when the vice president becomes president, the speaker does not move into the office of vice president. The legislation only specifies who is to become president.

    When the position of vice president becomes vacant, the 25th Amendment states:

    25th Amendment: Whenever there is a vacancy in the office of the Vice President, the President shall nominate a Vice President who shall take office upon confirmation by a majority vote of both Houses of Congress.

    Which means she can stand at the door all she wants but ony for waiting. Since there is no time limit for the new VP to be chosen, nominated and confirmed there is no VP unless both houses confirm. There is also, no limit to the number of times a single individual can be nominated.

    See election of new vp when office is vacant. ….

  11. “Whether you like it or not. history is on our side. We will bury you!”

    – Nikita Khrushchev

    Global communists, including liberals, progressives, socialists and democrats in America, are burying individual freedom through self-reliance, the U.S. Constitution and America.


    “The end may justify the means as long as there is something that justifies the end.”

    – Leon Trotsky

    “We’ll know our disinformation program is complete when everything the American public believes is false.”

    – William Casey, CIA Director

    1. This is just the media’s way of obscuring your testimony. The did not miss your point but are deflecting it. I wish you’d reiterate your point rather than follow their deflection. Meanwhile the Dems are going to go ahead, as They do want a recreational impeachment and don’t care a bit about future implications and damage. Now would be a great time for you and Alan Dershowitz to have coffee and discuss how much longer you want to be Democrats.

  13. well professor you can see how fair the news is. that’s why we call them fake news. welcome to the red pill.

  14. Yes, one hand clapping. Jonny has become the sycophant for Ofx “News” and the present administration. Sad. The hearings yesterday show Jonny’s bias–apparently say anything to get some press coverage.

  15. It depends if the Dems get the Mueller report introduced into evidence. If any basis of the Trump impeachment relies on the actions and activities outlined by Mueller, obstruction and certain factors that tied into a conspiracy (including Paul Manafort pushing the Ukrainian conspiracy theory Trump has repeatedly pushed and wanted the Ukrainian president to substantiate by claiming he was opening an investigation into it [not even actually opening it]), then Mueller’s independent investigation into Trumps activities could be likened to Ken Starr’s years long investigation into Clinton. And unlike the Clinton investigation, Mueller’s actually paid for itself by the money produced from Manafort’s real estate settlements and others. Add the fact that Trump is alleged to have preceded to pressure Ukraine for personal gain literally a day after the Mueller investigation concluded, it would seem logical to connect the dots and admit the allegations by Mueller to further substantiate the record.

    That being said, I don’t disagree that the Democrats should get testimony from more key witnesses, including Parnas (already willing to testify), McGahn (DC said he needs to respond to subpoena, USSC is reviewing temporarily), Giuliani (implicated by several witnesses and directly by Parnas), Mulvaney (who has an admission on record), Perry (implicated by Sonland, though he’s refused to testify), Pence (who Trump repeatedly said to ask about Ukraine when pressed about his own involvement) and Trump (given the opportunity to testify- and remember, Clinton had the guts to testify). If Guiliani doesn’t respond to subpoenas, he has no real national security privilege to assert or the Executive Branch will have to admit he’s not operating independently, and if not he should be imprisoned. Trump didn’t pardon Stone so I don’t think he’ll pardon Giuliani.

    If witnesses continue to obstruct then enter that into the record and impeach if you must by March. Don’t rush to beat Christmas and the primaries for political purposes. I don’t see the senate pushing to subpoena the inner circle and the charges need to be brought to proceed, so it’s best to do as thorough a job as possible and dot i’s, cross t’s, and connect dots instead of saying here’s a dot, there’s a dot and we’ve only had one witness who’s spoken with the president say anything.

    1. It depends if the Dems get the Mueller report introduced into evidence. If any basis of the Trump impeachment relies on the actions and activities outlined by Mueller,

        1. I suppose that was what Trump was thinking after Mueller’s testimony, since the next day it seems he decided to ask Zelensky to do him a favor and publicly announce he was investigating his biggest remaining threat if he wanted more aid.

          Then again the day after he learned a democratic panel had opened an investigation into his dealings in Ukraine he decides to reverse course and release the aid. I wish you success in you continued defense of the president and his coconspirators as it seems to be an ever challenging task.

          Professor Turley offered the best defense one who isn’t complicit could muster, and that is that they need to continue to investigate his ridiculous behavior, subpoena everyone of his coconspirators, and impeach if they must once they’ve left no stone unturned. Unfortunately the GOP seems determined to obstruct the avalanche of stones from rolling over them with their very lives if they must, and while Clinton had the balls to come in and testify, Trump seems as willing as he was to release his tax-returns or risk being drafted

    1. Preceptor Kai addressed the assembly at Mt. Dayang, saying, “The blue mountains are constantly walking.”

      Later, Dōgen wrote: “To doubt the walking of the mountains means that one does not yet know one’s own walking.”

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