“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. Professor,

    I am a long time admirer of yours, even as I would never vote for either party. Unfortunately, as smart as you are, you apparently failed to see coming, that your appearance had nothing to do with the scam this impeachment is and wanting the truth. Accordingly, your calls for civility were destined to incense millions who have lost their minds. Indeed, while I have decried comparisons between any current political activity and Nazis, one thing that there is in common is the madness of crowds that has destroyed the abilities of millions of frightened and therefore, angry people, to think critically about anything.

    My longstanding revulsion for the lock on power, of both parties, and the destruction of the country as an official store for anything resembling truth and justice, is unchanged by the environment today…..and as far as I care, a pox on both of them. However, I am still able to tell left from right in the current environment, and fwiw, I sure am not surprised by the demands that you be sanctioned in one way or another.

    Indeed, whatever faith you have placed in the so-called “left”, as a source for anything but hurtling the country toward civil war, has been grossly misplaced. I cannot believe I would ever have thought such a thing possible, but I fear it grows likely with every passing day.

    If there is a next one, it won’t be so simple as to be based primarily on geography. Even if no other other countries rush in for a pound of flesh, it will be beyond vicious, and it worries me greatly.

    Heaven knows that with every fiber of my being, I hope it can’t come to that, but my brain is telling me otherwise.

    If the country ever comes to its senses again, you will again be seen for your even handedness and courage. Nothing can change that, and that has to mean something. Your life’s work has mattered, and you have not left your country.

    Unfortunately, it has left you.


  2. Today’s behaviour exposed the Left and their WAR ROOM. Beginning with the Speaker of the House, who see’s her speaker-ship fade in the twinkle of her lying eyes, as she hides behind her religion. As the LEFT has basically given up on winning back the WH, they have clearly lost their rational. And they will have left America in tatters, all because of a turf war.

    Elections have consequences, so grow up you leftists. As the 2020 election draws closer, the extreme Left is showing their hand by dirtying the POTUS any way then can, and as much as they can.
    But they are still loosing the 2020 election, and they don’t give a DAMN about the consequences to this great country called America (Amerika for them).

    The more the black vote shifts to Trump, so will the Latin vote. And that spells the doom of the DEM party. Just like Obana said about the Rep party. Remember??

    So, the Dems loose the house, gain in the Senate, keep the WH, and have shown Americans just what level the Dems will stoop to in order to win an election.

    I cringe at the long term outcome for the DEM party, but all I can say about them is that they brought it upon themselves. So, Suck Wind Dems!

  3. “Impeach” is kind of like the word “enemy” which is confused with the word “enema”. Congress needs an enema. It is so full of itShay that the media is smelled out.

  4. in other news, crazy day today i guess, not only was Pelosi witnessing to the Catholic faith, but Biden told an old guy he was fat and challenged him to a pushup contest. No, really, check it out. Awesome rivals! Go Trump.

    1. Biden, as in his presidential campaign over 30 years ago, also brought up his IQ to the old guy.
      At least he didn’t repeat his claim that he graduated in the top half of his law school, like he did back then.
      If an average citizen in a town hall meeting can get under Biden’s skin, I wonder how he’d handle it when Trump needles him.
      (Not that Trump would ever stoop to name-calling or insults)😏

  5. My final words to Prof Turley are to quote from his own pre-prepared written statement to the Committee (page 4):

    Turley: “I have repeatedly criticized his [Trump’s] raising of the investigation of the Hunter Biden matter with the Ukrainian president.”

    Now, if you believe that Trump has done something wrong in requesting Ukraine to investigate Hunter Biden (and, of course that means Joe Biden, as well) you must also accept that he tied that request to the release of the $400 million in defense money. So, tell us, Prof Turley, why that would not amount to extortion or bribery by Trump? And why would this not constitute the crime that you say makes the Nixon and Clinton impeachments different from that of Trump?

  6. Professor Turley.
    Your testimony yesterday at the Judicial Committee’s Impeachment proceedings re: President Trump was disappointing. The GOP selection of you as their sole defender was executed perfectly: a law professor admitting to not having voted for President Trump nevertheless publicly willing to defend said president. What a farce! You didn’t come across favorably and no manner of your supposed non-partisan utterances before your testimony can erase your rather smug attitude. You reminded me much of others in court cases who try too hard to look fair, innocent and righteous. Your eyes and other facial expressions were masterful as any expert conman: I am a good, decent, family loving,hardworking and intelligent man.
    One of the things you said immediately aroused my interest: you are a friend of Attorney General Barr. Who could’ve guessed?
    Mr. Turley, given your statement of your friendship with Mr.Barr, could you disclose to your readers who exactly Mr. Barr is? Can you share with us that the current Attorney General is a member of the Catholic Opus Dei and can you share with us the goals of that organization? Mind you, I am a former Catholic and one who ran across different members of that misogynistic, paternalistic ‘cult’? What does the Pope have to say about said organization? Do you share Opus Dei’s goals and their tactics ?

    During the last few years of reading your blog I noticed that you’ve lost support of some people who were fairly questioning you and your blog comments. You are left with a majority of mostly old white male supporters intend on making themselves relevant on your blog. I think you are a fraud. I think you lost your way. I think you fell into a trap, one in which you seek some notoriety for whatever reason.

    In watching you on TV yesterday I realized you are just another male trying to stay relevant.

    In short, Republicans once more appear to be their own worst enemies. “Ultimately, [Turley’s] presence is a reminder of the hypocrisy of the Republican position. He testified before Congress to advocate for Bill Clinton’s impeachment,” former prosecutor Joyce White Vance tells me. “But now, he’s concerned about the country’s future if we impeach a president who endangered our national security to [get] extra help with his campaign from a vulnerable ally.” If Turley is an example of the type of witnesses they think helpful, perhaps Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) should allow them to call many more.

    1. haha, i love it ! ” just another male trying to stay relevant.”

      Like Beethoven wrote wrote Fur Elise huh?

      Elise, we only know the name, a sweet melody, followed by confusing difficulty. who was she?
      who cares!
      But….Beethoven, immortal memory !

      not hard to stay relevant when you are excellent
      Turley was as relevant as it got yesterday anywhere on the globe

      1. Mr. Kurtz, learn how to read: my name is not Elise. My name is Elsie. Your reference to Beethoven’s Fur Elise is therefore not relevant. Nice piano piece though. I have ordered the jacket the First Lady wore not too long ago with the exact slogan: I don’t care, do you? I don’t care what you write to me. I just know you get easily upset at any mention of a woman calling a man irrelevant. Grow up.

      2. Mr. K:
        “ just another male trying to stay relevant.”
        Another white, male hater masquerading as an educated person. Seems her mother was prescient. Elsie? As in EIEIO?

    2. just another male trying to stay relevant.

      There’s a reason 73% of the corporation presidents in this country, 75% of the computer technicians, 84% of the engineers, 85% of the police officers, 85% of the surgeons, and 96% of the installation and repair technicians are male. Has something to do with who is better adapted to circumstances which include robust operational measures of competence and something to do with who can handle a crisis. Go ahead, tootsie. Pretend you don’t need us.

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