A Brief History Of Time: A Response To Chairman Schiff On The Need To Impeach By Christmas

The House Judiciary Committee is about to approve two articles of impeachment as member after member last night declared that time is of the essence. The House is now set to fulfill its pledge to impeach President Donald Trump by Christmas. For some us, the mad rush toward impeachment by the Democrats has been utterly incomprehensible.  It is difficult enough to go to the Senate in a presidential impeachment without an accepted crime and on the narrowest basis in history.  However, the Democrats know that they have combined those liabilities with the thinnest record of any modern impeachment – a record filled with gaps and conflicts.  The Democrats know that this record is guaranteed to fail and could easily justify the Senate holding a trial as cursory as its hearings.  Yet, they would prefer guaranteed failure rather than build a credible case for removal.  Why? The reasons put forward by House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) and others are not credible and, given the paucity of examination given these claims, it is worth closer scrutiny.

So, to use Stephen Hawkings’ famous construct, here is a brief history of time for impeachment.

So why? The answer to that question will likely occupy historians for decades after this slipshod impeachment is summarily rejected.  In the impeachment hearing, I testified that President Donald Trump could be impeached for abuse of power but that the record was facially inadequate and incomplete. I encouraged the Committee to just take a few more months to subpoena roughly ten witnesses with direct evidence and secure judicial orders that I believe would support the Committee on its obstruction article.  While I was relieved to see the Committee drop the allegations of bribery, extortion, and other crimes that I testified against, it refused to simply take a little more time to develop a more complete case.

None of the excuses for the pledge to impeach by Christmas are even remotely plausible.  They can be divided into two basic groupings: court challenges would take too much time and there is a crime in progress that must be stopped.

No Time To Wait

First, there is the argument by Chairman Schiff in response to the criticism over the short investigation (which even the New York Times has challenged). Schiff insisted that waiting will mean a guarantee of that there will be no impeachment while also guaranteeing that there will be foreign meddling in the 2020 election:  “People should understand what that argument really means. It has taken us eight months to get a lower court ruling that Don McGahn has no absolute right to defy Congress. Eight months for one court decision.” As has consistently been the case, no major media outfit seemed interested to fact check that statement.  It happens to be untrue.

The House waited until August 7th to go to court to compel McGahn’s appearance.  That was roughly four months ago, not eight.  It was also filed before the House voted to start the impeachment inquiry on October 31st.  Back in January, I testified in the House Judiciary Committee and pushed the Committee to hold such a vote to allow for expedited cases over testimony like McGahn’s.  At the time, I warned that the House was running out of runway to get an impeachment off the ground.  With such a vote, these cases could have moved at the accelerated pace of an impeachment.

So not only has the House gone two years without opening an impeachment inquiry, it burned over three months without going to court to enforce a subpoena in the Ukrainian controversy.  Indeed, a court was close to ruling on such a subpoena in the case of Charles Kupperman, a former deputy national security adviser. Kupperman was ready to testify but simply wanted judicial guidance. The House withdrew the subpoena before the court could rule and this week Kupperman is still trying to keep the case in court to get a ruling against the determined efforts of the House.

In the Nixon case, the White House moved to quash a subpoena for the Watergate tapes on May 1st. Judge John Sirica denied St. Clair’s motion on 19 days later.  On May 24th, an appeal was taken to the D.C. Circuit but the case was taken directly to the Supreme Court.  Oral arguments were heard on July 8th and a ruling issued only three weeks later.  That is three months. That is what can happen when you expedite a matter as an impeachment matter.

The question is why would the House not only refuse to try to secure these witnesses but actually withdraw a subpoena before a ruling in the Kupperman.  The December deadline is more logically tied to the Iowa caucuses than any litigation schedule. It is not the judicial but political calendar that appears the pressing concern in this schedule.

This Is An Ongoing Crime Spree

The second argument is that there must be action now because President Trump is actively seeking to undermine the 2020 elections. Chairman Schiff declared “The argument, ‘why don’t you just wait’ amounts to this: ‘why don’t you just let him cheat in one more election? Why not let him cheat just one more time?'”

Rep. Eric Swalwell further declared that the House must act because this is a “crime spree in progress.”  Rep. David Cicilline similarly declared that time was of the essence because this is a “crime in progress.” Likewise, Rep. Cedric Richmond (D, La) explained that they cannot wait because “this is a crime in process” and this is a 911 moment.  It makes for riveting rhetoric but it is detached from any objective view of the facts, even if you object to to the call and request for an investigation. What is the ongoing crime in Ukraine?  The aid has been paid. Moreover, how does rushing an incomplete impeachment case to certain failure stop an ongoing crime?  These members are pushing forward a half-formed case that will be easily to dismiss – and calling it “tough on crime.” Finally, the Johnson, Clinton, and Nixon cases all had recognized crimes, not metaphorical crimes.  Yet, those cases were based on long investigative periods that produced massive and comprehensive records.  

What is equally concerning is that this claim of a “crime spree” is based not just on the request for investigations in Ukraine, but earlier public statements made by President Trump, including during the campaign. Chairman Jerry Nadler last night said the pattern includes then candidate Donald Trump calling for the Russians to hand over the Clinton emails. That was before Trump took office and it is now being somehow used as part of an impeachment. It is also a comment that Trump and his supporters maintained was a joke. It did seem like a public statement on a campaign trail that was mockery. Now it has been cited as part of this pattern of a conspiracy to invite foreign interference with our elections — a conspiracy that was expressly rejected by the FBI, the Inspector General, and the Special Counsel. This is an example of how this incomplete record quickly breaks down under scrutiny and why the House needs to build an actual not aspirational case for impeachment.

Let’s be clear.  Many of us have criticized the references to the Bidens. However, there was no invitation to intervene in the election.  It certainly was not akin to the Russian hacking operation in 2016. Many presidents ask for actions that would benefit them politically in an election year.  Any request that might benefit a president is not an invitation for intervention or rigging of an election. To portray that as rigging the 2020 election (and to suggest that it is an ongoing crime) is not just hyperbolic but highly misleading. Moreover, this line of argument does not address why a delay of two months would somehow magnify this danger.  As noted, the Democrats allowed months to pass without seeking subpoenas for witnesses like John Bolton and withdrew other subpoenas.  How would sending an impeachment guaranteed to fail help in any way to stop such intervention? Indeed, what the Democrats are doing would seem to encourage such alleged misconduct by all but forcing an acquittal in the Senate. If you really want to combat such misconduct, you would build this case and seek a vote in the early Spring with a full record.

There is no question that impeachment by Christmas is the ultimate stocking stuffer for many voters. However, this is marketing a known defective product that will not last long outside of the box.

134 thoughts on “A Brief History Of Time: A Response To Chairman Schiff On The Need To Impeach By Christmas”

    1. she has more Botox in her cauldron, and all of the body parts of the babies she ordered from abortionists provide her mythic powers of rejuvenating hopes

      she looks like Michael Jackson these days.

      ghastly

  1. Democrats are so desperate for a win that their once former principles are now their enemies, while their former enemies (e.g. FBI, CIA, DOJ, abuse of power by President Nixon, deceit of Americans, etc) are now their best buddies

    Democrats embody a modern J. Edgar Hoover

    —-

    “The FBI’s gross abuse of its power – its serial deceit – is so grave and manifest that it requires little effort to demonstrate it. In sum, the IG Report documents multiple instances in which the FBI – in order to convince a FISA court to allow it spy on former Trump campaign operative Carter Page during the 2016 election – manipulated documents, concealed crucial exonerating evidence, and touted what it knew were unreliable if not outright false claims.

    If you don’t consider FBI lying, concealment of evidence, and manipulation of documents in order to spy on a U.S. citizen in the middle of a presidential campaign to be a major scandal, what is? But none of this is aberrational: the FBI still has its headquarters in a building named after J. Edgar Hoover – who constantly blackmailed elected officials with dossiers and tried to blackmail Martin Luther King into killing himself – because that’s what these security state agencies are. They are out-of-control, virtually unlimited police state factions that lie, abuse their spying and law enforcement powers, and subvert democracy and civic and political freedoms as a matter of course.”

    The Intercept
    Glenn Greenwald

  2. Lame Duck House of Representatives. Many of the dorks do represent the dumb mindset of their constituents. California is a territory which needs to be thrown out of the Union.

  3. When the impeachment “charges” reach the Senate for “trial”: 1) on the first day, Senator Smartfart files a Motion To Dismiss For Failure To State a Claim. 2) On day two the presiding judge considers the motion and dismisses the indictment, charges, impeachment allegations or whatever ya call them. End of Schiffshit.

  4. For some us, the mad rush toward impeachment by the Democrats has been utterly incomprehensible.

    Well, you’ve treated this as analogous to a legal process when it’s just narrative manufacture. None of what they do is incomprehensible if in assessing it your point of departure is that they’re a collection of posturing sociopaths.

  5. The silent majority is listening, Professor Turley. We appreciated the work you have put into this issue.

    The non-political lawyers of America (a dying breed) support your reliance on the law, rather than “desire for outcome”, as the motivation for your writings. Your 52 page brief on the issue was well reasoned. No similar dissertation was put forth by the mob in defense of their “opinions”.

    More importantly, we admire, support and WILL defend the courage you have exhibited in standing up to the hot headed mob who simply wants a result, regardless of foundation.

    Thank you for being here at this critical moment in our history!

  6. Why? Because democracy is a fraud. The mass delusion is sending the entire political system racing toward a dead end. Democrats are merely fulfilling empty promises. Complementarily, Republicans are founding Trump’s defense on thin but admittedly sound legal grounding. Trump derangement syndrome will continue to produce a lot of rotten fruit. Democrats do not have a viable candidate for the presidency. The protests should be over the sending of any aid to the Ukrainian fascists. Therefore malestrom at hand is a mask to consolidate support for imperialist authoritarianism. The US political system should be under severe scrutiny now. But to the contrary, the kabuki theater of the absurd is produced to appear real.

  7. Turley, “The December deadline is more logically tied to the Iowa caucuses than any litigation schedule.” So the evidence for rush to impeach in this case can easily be claimed to be ELECTION MEDDLING.

  8. Furthermore, if Trump was genuinely concerned about giving the $400 million to a corrupt government (to which aid had heretofore been given), would he not task one of his agents to inquire about the basis upon which the latest aid package had been certified? Why take the word of an unproven newly elected Ukrainian president? Wouldn’t a prudent Trump ask the appropriate U.S. agency to double down on its due diligence before the aid was released?

    1. Exactly Jeffrey. It takes a high level of self delusion to actually believe Trump cared anything about corruption in the Ukraine (or anywhere else).

      On this column, JTs umpteenth as Miss Manners to the Democrats, a lying con man likely used the powers of the office for personal gain – JT admits that’s impeachable – and here he is correcting Pelosi -AGAIN- on which fork to use with the salad. There is no constitutional issue with the schedule. You can sit this one out.

    2. When you run for president, you too will have the opportunity to convince the voters that your foreign policy strategy will be the most effective for our national interests. And when you campaign for reelection, the voters will once again have the opportunity to stick with your winning strategy, or reject you for your failures.

      See, that’s how it’s supposed to work.

  9. You over educated imbeciles amuse me. The Parties don’t make any decisions on the timing for impeachment or the trial for removal, the States as the Union do!

    Impeachment is a decision of the States as they are proportionally assembled in the House with Proportional Suffrage to reach Majority Consensus, and removal is a decision of the States as they are Equally Assembled in the Senate with Equal Suffrage to reach a 2/3 Majority Consensus, because the States have Equal Suffrage in the Senate, not their individual Senators who are bound to vote as their State Legislature demands, not with their Party.

    If you piss off the wrong 9 States you can find yourself impeached instantly, with immediate removal if the States as the Union deem it in their interest to do so, and there is nothing partisan or political about that.

    Then what happens after the vote for impeachment in the House? The President and GOP leadership in the Senate seem to think that it’s all business as usual, but hold on a minute, this is a Criminal proceeding, although conviction does not carry criminal penalties. Bribery, Treason, and other high crimes and misdemeanors are all crimes, and in a criminal proceeding after an indictment the accused is immediately placed in the custody of the trial court and faces a custody hearing to determine the conditions of custody while awaiting trial and during the trial.

    This puts the impeachment and removal process into context. Immediately upon a Majority Consensus vote of impeachment in the House, proportional by State, the Speaker of the House transmits the finding to the President of the Senate, who immediately assumes the duties of the President due to the absence in the Presidency caused by the finding of impeachment. The Chief Justice will be immediately made aware of the necessity to preside over the trial for removal in the Senate by the President pro Tempore of the Senate, and the President will be placed into custody until the Chief Justice can arrange a custody hearing to determine the conditions of custody of the President while awaiting the trial of removal and during the trial, as well as setting the date and time of the trail. The Vice President will continue to perform the Duties of the President until the reason for the absence, the President being on trial for removal from office, is resolved or until a new President be elected.

    Why does this procedure need to be followed in all cases?

    Because before a custody hearing can be conducted there is no way to know the severity of the crimes that the President is being accused of, and it may be necessary for the immediate custody without the possibility of bail or without being released on personal recognizance. This can only be ascertained through a custody hearing, where the Senate can place the decision under the authority of the Cheif Justice who is presiding over proceeding, or if the Senate decides that the custody will be decided by a 2/3 vote of the Senate, then the President’s custody while awaiting trial and during the trial will be determined at that time, but under no circumstances will the President be allow to continue, or return to, his duties as President until the trial is completed and a finding not to remove satisfies the reason for the absence and then the President will immediately reassume the duties of the Presidency.

    McConnell has absolutely no Authority to make these decisions of custody or timing of the trial as a Senate Majority Leader, a position which has no Constitutional significance. These decisions must be made by the States as the Union as they are assembled in the Senate as Equals with Equal Suffrage, with a quorum requirement of 2/3 of the States and a required 2/3 Majority Consensus of the States.

    This is a serious matter and must be treated seriously. The States as the Union must make all decisions of their Union of this magnitude and a 2/3 Majority Consensus is always necessary for decisions of their Confederacy. Let’s stop pretending that this process is just political; bribery, treason, and other high crimes and misdemeanors are crimes, and this is a criminal proceeding, although conviction does not carry criminal penalties which will be considered after the trial for removal where the person removed is immediately placed in the custody of the criminal justice system to face criminal prosecution and criminal penalties if necessary.

    1. A scholarly synopsis, which would be all well and good if the current U.S. Corporation bore any connection whatsoever to founding documents such as the so-called Constitution or Bill Of Rights. How was the creation of the private banking cartel known as the Federal Reserve Central Bank rushed into existence during a supposed holiday recess when only the few lawmakers present were allowed to fraudulently deem themselves a Majority Consensus? What if this urgent Christmas deadline were no more original than that Crime-Of-The-Century?

  10. Democrats have made easy for the cowardly GOP (and it’s iffy supporters e.g. JT) by failing to bring up some of Trump’s statutory crimes involving Stormy Daniels, emolument clause crimes, T.U. fraud,
    T.Foundation fraud, JAVANKA & the 550 million bailout and more of the rest.

    1. Bill McW,
      I think they should have tacked those items on to more Articles of Impeachment.
      By the time the House wrapped that up, the Senators campaigning for the Democratic nomination could sit through the Senate trial past Super Tuesday.
      Keeping them off the campaign trail….that alone…would be a good reason to load up on more Articles.

  11. “So why? The answer to that question will likely occupy historians for decades after this slipshod impeachment is summarily rejected. “
    ***************
    Shouldn’t take ‘em too long once they apply the basics: Bad people do bad things for power. Stupid, bad people do stupid, bad things for power. Good people reject both of those results.

    A question is as hard as you wanna make it.

  12. Republicans claim that Trump held up the 400 million because he was worried that Zelensky was corrupt notwithstanding that the aid was cleared by all the relevant government agencies. Apart from the obvious fact that Trump could not care less about corruption per se, can anyone explain to me why investigating the admittedly corrupt Burisma/Hunter situation had to do with the $400 million aid package? As a taxpayer, I am concerned that no corrupt politicians siphon money from the $400 million and put it into their pockets. We should be concerned that the money gets to the intended agency in full. What does investigating Burisma have to do with this? How does conditioning the $400 million on publicly announcing an investigation into Biden guarantee that the money will not be corruptly diverted?
    Anyone?

  13. JT has raised his profile dramatically the last couple weeks. That has drawn venom from some, but many more followers here and on Twitter have come to see what we know. That is JT is the real deal. He is one of the most intellectually honest people out there regarding Trump. Others are, Salena Zito, Glenn Greenwald, Matt Taiibi, and Sheryll Attkisson.

  14. You’ve done great damage to our country with your testimony and writings in support of the Republican opposition to the impeachment of President Trump. Your reasoning is shallow and your conclusions grotesque. As a fellow Northwestern Law School graduate I am embarrassed.

    1. It is Northwestern that should be embarrassed to have graduated you from their program. Like so many nowadays you are too willing to duu I story the Law and precedence for a political outcome.

    2. PAD:

      Embarrassed for JT? You oughta be embarrassed for you. Not seeing a dearth of evidence in a case when it doesn’t exists certainly makes me cringe. Thanks for proving yet again that the school doesn’t make the lawyer, the lawyer makes the school.

      1. As demonstratedhere yesterday, mespo is incapable of discussing evidence, which leads to the conclusion that he is also unable to understand it. He thinks insults are arguments and preening equals triumph but adds nothing to the debate.

        1. Business must be slow for you in Alachua and construction must be passing you by since you’re once again back on this forum in spite of being blocked by the moderator

          VPN sale?

          1. VPN sale!!!! indeed

            several of the insulting, demeaning, holier-than-thou left wing trolls were banned but they have returned with new profile names. Imagine that. Such is the meaningless life they lead

            Now that Turley is all over the place on printed media, broadcast media and is being wildly quoted by everyone, with their left wing “law experts” disagraced partisans, they are back to insult, demean and act moralistic

            Without VPN these mongrels would have no purpose in life….kinda like HIllary Clinton LOL

          2. Go Gators:

            “Business must be slow for you in Alachua and construction must be passing you by since you’re once again back on this forum in spite of being blocked by the moderator.”

            ******************************
            It’s rainy and wet. Bad for contractors. This latest iteration of Anon1 is tone deaf and dumb — an interesting combination.

      2. I am not sure who taught Mespo how to write well, whenever that was, but his writing style always flows very nicely. And I enjoy reading it. It is a perspective thing, of course

    3. I hope those you’re trying to impress remind you that Prof. Turley has given formal, legal opinions on which he places his statements today. I see no precedents, no evidence in your adolescent comment.
      Sometimes seeing how we are wrong can build greater understanding.

    4. Looks like Peter David, here, is a plaintiff’s personal injury kinda lawyer. Those guys are usually creative, analytical evidence -based types because their livelihood depends on it. I oughta know.

      Sounds like he knows better but he’s taken off course by ideology. Too bad. I do admire intellectual honesty.

      1. Turley is above the NWU law school norm by far. Turley is a rare bird.

        Northwestern grads end up in big law or a notch down. they usually can’t cut the mustard in solo or small firm practice. They’re generally very smart and hard workers but very timid and docile like cows.

        see what it takes to get good really good grades, ie, being an obedient, docile, ticket-punching, cubicle type– is precisely what makes one unsuitable for the chaos of small and solo practice

        Trump’s the kind of guy that got Cs. and kept on squeaking by on his innate smarts without doing much homework. guys like that get good at making choices on the fly with minimum prep.

        Guys that worked super hard and diligent, and got really really good grades, but somehow ended up standing in line with a super boring job, however mostly well it pays, always hate the guts of a classmate like Trump, who goes on to an exciting life.

        that’s where a lot of this is coming from.

        Northwestern, home of the WCTU, is full of geeks and prissy weasels in manpants. See, they;’re all jealous of Turley! How dare he exceed them as a professor AND a lawyer AND get himself in front of Congress so many times, and on TV, and DARE to show up for Republicans and FOX! How DARE he!

        one of my best friends was in law school there and he hated it. he was a man’s man. definitely not the kind of guy who enjoys the lukewarm safe space that’s Evanston

        1. Even though it was hard to get a beer with your dinner, it used to be Evanstan had a few good restaurants. This excellent Thai restaurant was open for decades. They finally ran it out of town, right after a Greek one split. Pathetic! This is the kind of anemic development you get from the schoolmarmish ilk who’ve taken over a few generations hence the Women’s Christian Temperance Union

          https://evanstonnow.com/story/business/bill-smith/2016-12-27/76590/another-downtown-restaurant-closes

  15. You epeak as if you don’t understand the urgency of removing Donald John Trump as an illegitimate president, which is unwarranted, as if his feelings and activities are more worthy to protect than the interests of the country. You support his collateral damage to this country’s constitution and the rule of law, yet you teach law students! Are you saying Donald John Trump is above the law, and he can do anything he wants, because Article Two says he can?

    1. Congratulations Peter Shill for finally going through the MTF gender change. Good choice of names and thankfulky you chose a feminine one. Though curiously you still employ that characteristic whining, nagging, cringeworthy tone. Tell your doc to lower your estrogen dosage.

    2. Your use of the term illegitimate exposes your bias and complete misunderstanding of Impeachment. It is not a tool to undo an election because you don’t like the result. He is the duly elected President. Get over it, try to defeat him in the next election.
      Understand that presently concocted impeachment has next to zero chance of resulting in removal so it is being used as an electioneering tool. Isn’t that the exact “offense” the dullards in the House are complaining about?
      As for the stopping a “crime in progress”, that is laughable. The kooks in the Democratic Party notwithstanding, considering the timeframe between now and the election, they get one chance at impeachment this cycle. If this impeachment fails and they try another in short order, they will be laughed out of town.
      Contrary to what liars like Schiff claim, a failed impeachment will free up a lawless President to intensify his activity.
      The only reasons for impeachment are hate, base politics, and to pacify imbeciles who think that Hillary will become President if they impeach.
      If this gets voted out of the House, it will be another step away from a stable republic and closer to a Third World hell hole.

    3. JAT:
      Thanks for the rant, dear, but we like evidence and argument on this blog. The “it’s obvious” fallacy just makes us snicker.

    4. Jennifer A Thompson – Trump is illegitimate how? List the ways. As far as I know Congress and the Courts recognize him as the current President of the United States.

    5. Ms Jennifer,

      It’s actually urgent for the well being of our nation that TRUMP continues his tenure and stomps the guts out of the faceless bureaucrats who are biting at his rear end like so many pissants nipping at the rump of an elephant. HAIL TRUMP

      PS look up and study “Separation of powers” and then we can talk.

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