Pelosi’s Blunder: How The House Destroyed Its Own Case For Impeachment

Below is my column in The Hill Newspaper on the blunder by Speaker Nancy Pelosi of not submitting the impeachment case to the Senate — a mistake that now threatens not just the trial but the rules for impeachment trials.

On Sunday, Pelosi went largely unchallenged in her obviously incorrect claim that the House is still in court seeking witnesses in the impeachment. The House is litigating pre-impeachment witnesses, but has never sought to subpoena, let alone compel, key witnesses in the impeachment from John Bolton to Rudy Giuliani to others with direct knowledge of any alleged quid pro quo. Indeed, the House has done nothing for four weeks after the vote – a vote that I strongly discouraged in favor of spending a couple months seeking these witnesses and/or court orders. Now Pelosi is actually suggesting that they could still seek the witnesses while the House does nothing. It remains the most baffling blunder of the impeachment.

Here is the column:

“Situation quiet. The captain has been put away for the night.” The words from the movie “The Caine Mutiny” came to mind on Friday when House leaders announced that Speaker Nancy Pelosi would not move until next week in submitting the impeachment of President Trump to a Senate trial. While various Democrats have publicly grumbled about the delay, going into its fourth week, without any sign of success in forcing the Senate to call witnesses, Pelosi continued a strategy that could jeopardize not just any trial but the rules governing impeachment. Indeed, Pelosi may force the Senate into a couple of unprecedented but well deserved rulings.

From the outset, the ploy of Pelosi withholding the House impeachment articles was as implausible as it was hypocritical. There was no reason why Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell would make concessions to get an impeachment that he loathed. More importantly, just a couple of days earlier, House leaders insisted that some of us were wrong to encourage them to wait on an impeachment vote to create a more complete record. Pelosi previously insisted that House committees could not pursue direct witnesses like former national security adviser John Bolton because there was no time to delay in getting this impeachment to the Senate. She then waited a month and counting to send the articles over to the Senate.

The delay now seems largely driven by a desire to preserve the image of Pelosi as a master strategist despite a blunder of the first order. Senator Dianne Feinstein expressed the frustration of many members in saying, “The longer it goes on, the less urgent it becomes. So if it is serious and urgent, send them over. If it is not, do not send it over.” But she and other members were quickly pressured to “correct” their earlier statements by stating the exact opposite and praising the brilliant strategy of Pelosi.

Perhaps the most pathetic change was House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam Smith, who correctly stated, “At the end of the day, just like we control it in the House, Mitch McConnell controls it in the Senate. It does not look like that is going to happen. I think it is time to send the impeachment to the Senate and let Mitch McConnell be responsible for the fairness of the trial. He ultimately is.” It took just a few hours for Pelosi to get Smith to say that he “misspoke” and praise her inspired strategy.

Now what started as a demand to guarantee Senate witnesses has been downgraded to a demand to “know the rules” while waiting for the Senate to take a vote that it indicated weeks ago. In the alternative, sympathetic media figures insisted that Pelosi succeeded in “forcing a discussion” of Senate witnesses despite the fact that we had the same discussion in the trial of Bill Clinton without the House deciding to withhold the articles.

The fact is that Pelosi played into the hands of McConnell by first rushing this impeachment forward with an incomplete record and now giving him the excuse to summarily change the rules, or even to dismiss the articles. Waiting for the House to submit a list of managers was always a courtesy extended by Senate rules and not a requirement of the Constitution. By inappropriately withholding the articles of impeachment and breaking with tradition, Pelosi simply gave McConnell ample reason to exercise the “nuclear option” and change the rules on both majority voting as well as the rule for the start of trials. That is a high price to pay for vanity.

It could get even worse for the House case. I previously discussed that the Senate had an excuse to simply declare that a trial will start next week and either the House will appear with a team of managers or the case will be summarily dismissed. McConnell is now moving toward a summary vote in the Senate, in light of the House failing to comply with its own procedural obligations. That is what happens when prosecutors defy a court and fail to appear for a trial. It is known as “dismissal for want of prosecution.”

The Senate also is faced with two threshold problems that could create lasting damage to this process. First, the obstruction of Congress count, as I previously discussed, raises a troubling position that a president can be impeached for going to the courts rather than turning over evidence, even when the House set a ridiculously brief period for an investigation. The Senate could summarily reject that article as making the request for judicial review into a high crime and misdemeanor while allowing little time for deliberation. Second, if the Senate agrees to the Democratic demand for witnesses, it invites future rush impeachments where the House sends woefully incomplete and inadequate cases and demands witnesses it never bothered to subpoena, let alone compel to appear.

The Senate is, therefore, caught in a tough position of enabling the House in such slipshod impeachments or refusing to hear witnesses who, unlike the witnesses called by the House, could have direct evidence to share on the allegations. One possibility is that, as in a real court, the Senate could allow witnesses but give the House a set trial schedule. If the House wants to belatedly go to court to try to enforce a subpoena, the Senate will hear the testimony of witnesses like Bolton when that expedited litigation is complete. However, it will not extend the trial schedule of the Senate.

Trials will usually last a fraction of the time of an investigation, but few investigations are as hurried or heedless as the House investigation was. The House wasted four months after the whistleblower complaint without issuing a subpoena to Bolton or Rudy Giuliani or others. Had it sought to compel such subpoenas, it would have had rulings from the courts by now. Indeed, it took only three months for the appeal over the Watergate tapes to be ruled on by the Supreme Court in the case of Richard Nixon.

The Senate could set a generous period for the trial of three weeks. That is in addition to the four weeks the House wasted on the poorly conceived ploy by Pelosi. If the House is ready to present these witnesses, they can be heard. But if those witnesses are not ready to testify due to ongoing litigation, they will not be called and the Senate will proceed to its verdict. In that way, future Houses are now on notice that it is in their interest to complete their records before sending an impeachment to the Senate.

It would send a message for future impeachments, as the author Herman Wouk wrote, “Remember this, if you can. There is nothing more precious than time. You probably feel you have a measureless supply of it, but you have not. Wasted hours destroy your life just as surely at the beginning as at the end, only in the end it becomes more obvious.” It is now obvious.

Jonathan Turley is the Shapiro Professor of Public Interest Law for George Washington University and served as the last lead counsel during a Senate impeachment trial. He testified as a witness expert in the House Judiciary Committee hearing during the impeachment inquiry of President Trump. He also serves as CBS and BBC legal analyst.

368 thoughts on “Pelosi’s Blunder: How The House Destroyed Its Own Case For Impeachment”

  1. Perhaps Pelosi should review the Clinton impeachment. Bill Clinton was charming, transparent and always observant of protocol in the Oval Office just ask Monica. Wait. What about the Iranesque lies and cover-up of the TWA Flight 800 debacle? Bill Clinton and the Deep Deep State did not want the facts of the accidental downing by the Navy of TWA Flight 800 within 90 days of the 1996 election. Bill Clinton paid off the CIA and Boeing as he defrauded voters and manipulated a Presidential election. Bill Clinton colluded with Deep Deep State actors and agents to suppress his criminal interference in an election.

    The Deep Deep State is in control. The Deep Deep State places its agents wherever they are needed. The Deep Deep State assigned David Kris to reform the FBI FISA process – it assigned the fox to guard the henhouse. The entire 7th Floor was lopped off due to corruption. How was Christopher Wray ever appointed to be Director of the FBI? You guessed it. The Deep Deep State runs the place, right before America’s very eyes. Christopher Wray was on the 7th Floor all along. Either Christopher Wray is an incurable incompetent or Christopher Wray is a totally corrupt Deep Deep State operative.

    Speaking of the Bourgeois…

    The “MEGXIT” finds Meghan Markle allegedly residing in British Columbia in the home of Frank Giustra, the billionaire and alleged Clinton operative who sold 20% of America’s Uranium to Russia. Is the Deep Deep State imposing “diversity” in Buckingham Palace and sabotaging British Royalty?

    Speaking of Iran…

    The Deep Deep State told America that a “spontaneous fuel tank explosion” blew up Flight 800 when it was the U.S. Navy that suffered the same missile “accident” as Iran did last week and that Bill Clinton paid the CIA and Boeing to “cover-up” (Nixon “covered-up,” right?) a political disaster that occurred during the critical final days of his 1996 re-election campaign. Bill Clinton should have been ripped out of his candidacy as Hillary should have been ripped out of hers for similarly egregious crimes, lies and fraud. The Deep Deep State thought otherwise.

    Get over it.

    The Deep Deep State told America that Pearl Harbor was a “surprise” attack. That Lee Harvey Oswald killed JFK. That James Earl Ray killed Martin Luther King. That Sirhan Sirhan killed RFK. That 9/11 was not a “controlled demolition” (Building 7 collapsing into its own footprint having been hit by nothing).

    And the Sheeple muddle on.

    Where are George Washington and the “Revolution Gang” when you need them?

    Let’s get this party started, George!

  2. “Pelosi’s Blunder: How The House Destroyed Its Own Case For Impeachment”

    – Professor Turley

    Pelosi has hysterically and incoherently impeached the President for conducting foreign relations in his inimitable style and committing, at worst, a plausibly deniable Hint Pro Quo. There was absolutely no harm, no foul, even the only possible victim, Volodymyr Zelensky, stated as much. Pelosi’s ultimate hysteria and incoherence proved that one man, one vote democrazy is untenable and terminal. The 19th Dumbmendment was an irrational self-imposed death sentence for America, causing the fertility rate to enter a “death spiral” and the population to vanish – faux America imports its population. The American Founders, as did the Greeks, perpetuated by the Romans, established democracy in the form of a composed and intelligible restricted-vote republic. The dictatorship of the Deep Deep State subjugated America in the vacuum, abhorred by nature, of one man, one vote democrazy.

    “A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves largesse from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates promising the most benefits from the public treasury with the result that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy, always followed by a dictatorship. The average age of the world’s greatest civilizations has been 200 years. These nations have progressed through this sequence: From bondage to spiritual faith; From spiritual faith to great courage; From courage to liberty; From liberty to abundance; From abundance to selfishness; From selfishness to apathy; From apathy to dependence; From dependence back into bondage.”

    – Alexander Fraser Tytler

  3. “That is what happens when prosecutors defy a court and fail to appear for a trial. It is known as “dismissal for want of prosecution.”

    Well, JT is right and that is the technical term for it. Around here we just say the jackarse prosecutor finally realized that he had no case to begin with and was too chicken to show up before the judge and face the music.

  4. Continuing the Blunder

    REPORT: Bernie Sanders Supporter Suggests Sending Trump Supporters to “Gulags” to be Re-educated from another source … not Fox… as breaking news.

    For Bernie, Pelosi and the entire Socialist Community Gulag is another word for concentration camps. Now tell me that bunch isn’t a bunch of National and International Socialists disguised first as liberal progressives but actually regressive socialist fascists.

  5. The creator although attributed to a religious God at that time were the founders and creators of the Constitution.

  6. Pelosi was correct to resist the temptation of impeachment. But she caved in to Schiff and Nadler, among others, and ever since she has been a landlubber in a tempest. Big egos are big shields for a lot of empty space (D. Black).

  7. Trump didn’t have to go to court. All he had to do was claim executive privilege. it was the responsibility of the House to challenge the claim in court. “Abuse of Power” sounds an awful lot like mal-administration which was rejected by the Founders.

    And what of Bolton and company? What’s the worst thing they could possibly say? What if quid pro quo was discussed? What if it was argued for days? It ultimately didn’t happen. If a group of people talk about robbing a bank and then decide not to do it, are they guilty of anything?

    1. A crime is the joining union of intent and the act. Pelosi clearly shows intent but has taken steps to ‘act’ and thus is liable for commission of a crime.

      1. Correction. A crime is the joint union of intent and the act (with one known exception)

        The exception is in one part of the US Code dealing with National Security.The one Comey should have been using when he usurped the authority of the then Adjutant General in an attempt to get Clinton off the hook. It didn’t work as the majority of voters saw through his dirty cop scam.

  8. The Democrats under Pelosi destroyed their case along with crippling American democracy and law. May the Democratic Party rest in peace and be resurrected as a party that cares about freedom of speech and American exceptionalism.

    1. How did they cripple the right of a ‘whole’ citizen to vote which is the only part of demo kratis retained for use in our Constitutional Republic system. It was and is the best part of the old Greek system which at all levels rejected it in parts and nowhere does it exist in it’s entirety. However at the federal level it was rejected nine times and was/is not part of our Constitution and Constitutional Republic by any form of the name too include the right of a ‘whole’ citizen to an independent vote and the inherent ability to control a government at all levels.

      1. “How did they cripple the right of a ‘whole’ citizen to vote ”

        American democracy is bigger than the idea of the right to vote.

  9. What’s clear these days is that Turley’s arse has been handed to him, and he don’t like it. So, he cuts corners in his posts by just making things up, like there’s no proof. There’s not enough evidence. And other half- witted ideas that he knows his Trump fan base will eat up. Trump has blocked every witness, but Turley sees no obstruction. Trump tried to get something that would help him and Trump only, and again Turley sees nothing. Hell, if Trump had a affair while President and he was a Democrat, and he lied about it, Turley would be screaming at the top of his lungs that he MUST be impeached.

    1. And where is your proof and evidence? Doesn’t exist. Therefore REJECTED en toto,

      Hung yourself on your own petard without question but then it’s what the socialist left is famous for. That’s why we call it the Stupid Party and can claim ad machina since there also is no evidence of a human presence.

            1. Go easy on him. He thinks he is the blog’s self-appointed Nebuchadnezzar, Moses and King Tut all wrapped into a fire breathing sphinx, even if he channels Jezebel nude…..eeeuuuwwww

    2. Trump blocked witnesses? It’s called EXECUTIVE PRIVILEGE – afforded to EVERY president including Clinton who used it also. So, you’re saying that Trump is the only president who has no executive privilege? How insane.

  10. An analogy

    It comes down to those 4 words, “Beyond a reasonable doubt.” That’s how OJ got off. The defense used that expertly and Marcia and Dardin totally blew it. I think the prosecution was simply over-matched, by better lawyers and better forensics.

    Johnny Cochran says if the evidence ‘doesn’t fit, you must acquit’

    1. Add to that or perhaps put in front ‘to the best of my ability.’ Small wonder the left didn’t catch that mistake but then there is no evidence they ever read The Constitution.

      So there’s two strikes Pelosi you are out of here.

      No such path is available for the use of Comrade Pelosi. She’s on the hook for mulltiple crimes such as repeatedly violating her oath of office. Not for being a religion traitor but a violator of her oath of office.

  11. “… the obstruction of Congress count… raises a troubling position that a president can be impeached for going to the courts rather than turning over evidence….”

    This would be more convincing if Trump did go to court, or expressed an interest in having the courts review the issue. Instead Trump declared that the executive branch would not cooperate in any way and ordered present and past officials not to testify. To me this is clear obstruction that reasonably risks impeachment.

    The House could have sought to enforce the subpoenas in court, but they risked the courts slow walking the cases and putting off the process for a year or more. Note that the House has a subpoena case in the court from last spring that is no where near resolved. The House choice not to go the courts was reasonable.

    1. Did you not read this article? The courts would clearly not “slow walk” these issues and everyone, except you, seems to realize that.

    2. No trouble there and there is not there there. Was it illegal to go to the courts? Not at all else the entire congressional left would not be in prison. Turning over evidence? That’s exactly for the courts to decide. The opposite would be troubling. And let’s not forget what if the DACA group went to court and charged Obama with failure to carry out his promise when he invited that group as part of a family to the USA?

  12. The House Democrats don’t have a case for impeachment, the States as they are assembled in the House with Proportional Suffrage to reach Majority Consensus accuse the President of malfeasance resulting in impeachment, and the Senate Republicans don’t hold a trial for removal in the Senate, the States as they are assembled in the Senate as Equals with Equal Suffrage to reach a Majority Consensus resulting in conviction and removal of the President for the malfeasance he was accused of by the States in the House. In both cases it is the States that both accuse and convict, based upon the mode reaching majority consensus according to the mode of assembly, not the Democrats and Republicans.

    Why is this such a hard concept to understand, Congress is the Assembly of the States into a decision making body for their Union, the United States, in Congress assembled, the Union which makes our Country the United States of America!

    The Constitution is a set of principles and protocols, laws, that govern the assembly, distribution of power through rights of Suffrage to reach Majority Consensus, and what constitutes a predetermined Majority Consensus for every question and matter of the united States, their Union, the united States, in Congress assembled, the Union which makes our Country the United States of America.

    Yeah, I wrote it twice, it seems that we forget that the Union of the States is where got the name the United States of America!

    Even a Constitutional professor and scholar should be able to understand that!

    1. To make the point even more simple. Thirteen Crown Colonies revolted as a group and having won became Nation States although four became Commonwealths not States upon entry into the United States of America as States minus the word Nation.

      1. I am being picky, but I’m not picking on you. The States consider themselves States even as far back as the Declaration of Independence, no matter if they were commonwealths or what system of government they had, just like they considered Great Britten a State. And they did not form a nation, they formed a confederacy, the States united in a common cause against a common enemy. The word nation, especially one nation is not appropriate for our country, because the United States of America is a confederacy, not a nation. And Congress is the assembly of the States to make decisions for their confederacy, the united States, in Congress assembled, the Union, and the States assembled in Congress make all the for their Union, meaning they don’t proxy their authority to make decisions to political parties, they assemble to act to make decisions themselves.

        If you don’t know what I’m saying then read the last paragraph of the Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation, then the Constitution, it should be explicitly clear that the Union of the States is the Established Government Authority and they together make all the decisions of and for their Union!

        1. Much better than my short version but both correct. the basic line is colony, nation states (acting as a confederacy,’ then States of the Union in a Constitutional Republic.

          The rest ‘as he said.

          At no time under the Constitution from that day to this is it a Democracy. Prior to the Constitution it was as stated a Confederacy of Nation States which. Once the USA as a Constitutional Republic it used a part of the old Demos Kratis system but refused the rest including the name in any of it’s forms.

          The most you can say is the term Democrat was borrowed by the anti federalists to denote the rights of the whole citizens of whatever time period. but did not extend to anything else in the rejected demos kratis system. It also guaranteed the new system to all of it’s States and Commonwealths. Socialism didn’t exist and has never been approved by amendment. the only legal way to use the Constitution as a living document.

          Methods such as ignoring the law Lincoln or all the progressives since 1909, or a single judge dictating a change are not legal and can be overturned by any subsequent SCOTUS UNLESS an amendment can be produced.

          1. There’s no such thing as a Constitutional republic, and the United States of America is still a confederacy, as it was by the states penning their names to the Declaration of Independence, thereby the Uniting the States in a common cause against a common enemy, but they did not have a structure to govern their Union, so they drafted the Articles of Confederation forming a unicameral Legislature of the States as equals by the Federal Principle. However this initial confederacy didn’t address the disparity that existed between the States in population and wealth so they added the House of Representatives, a republican form of Government, forming a Confederated Republic, the assembly of the states through per capita apportionment of Representation and Suffrage to reach Majority Consensus. Together the House and Senate, a Bicameral Legislature, form the More perfect Union, a compound Confederacy with both National and Federal character, but still a Confederacy.

            What we do today circumvents that balanced decision making assembly of the States. That’s what is wrong with our Government today, the States are no longer assembled in Congress to make the decisions of their Union.

            Anything espouse is just words on a page with no meaning of the big picture, the Union of the States is what makes our country the United States of America.

  13. This whole business has been an obvious fraud from the get go. Have a vote to dismiss the charges unless Susan Collins insists you have to do-si-do.

  14. We all love watching publicly the obsequious and synchophantic behavior of the Democrat representatives. Just like Orwell’s sheep, they are so spineless that they can be “quickly pressured to “correct” their earlier statements by stating the exact opposite and praising the brilliant strategy of Pelosi.” It was actually embarrassing (even for me) to listen to some of them retract their statements and recite the new party dictum they were coerced to cite by Pelosi and the DNC. Neither they, nor their autocratic leaders, deserve to be a member of our Congress.

    Finally, Democrats have shown for the last 15 years that they are unable to live by the civil, but uncodified, agreements of governance (ie H Reid, et al),as well as in society (note the spitting, screaming liberals across the US). They are untrustworthy and Republicans have every right to recognize not only The Dems’ incompetence but their lack of collegiality and civility. We will not stand by while they abuse our country or our people. What’s good for the the goose ….

  15. Which is it… Pelosi is not in court or she is litigating pre impeachment witnesses? The House has control over the Impeachment process until it forwards the Articles of Impeachment to the Senate. The idea that the REPUBLICAN controlled Senate and MCCONNELL, in particular, has ever had any intention of moving forward on a real trial is ridiculous. No matter what Trump does the great enablers will absolve him of any responsibility. As their great leader recently said in a tweet: “It really doesn’t matter.”

    Trump deserves to be impeached and the AMERICAN people deserved to see a real trial with witnesses but as with the House hearings Trump, the “innocent”, won’t let them testify.

    1. Meh

      You sound really troubled by Hillary losing in 2016, and the impeachment efforts of the Democrat loving Terrorists since President Trump’s inauguration

      TDS is very strong in you


    2. The idea that the REPUBLICAN controlled Senate and MCCONNELL, in particular, has ever had any intention of moving forward on a real trial is ridiculous.”

      That is a prediction of what may or may not happen that so happens to be wrong. However the House’s actions clearly demonstrated that the Democrats never “had any intention of moving forward” and permitting Republicans the right to cross examine and call witnesses. The House portion of an impeachment was a sham.

      “Trump deserves to be impeached”

      Deserved to be impeached for the wrong reason. The real reason is the Democrats lost the election and neither the Democrats nor you can deal with it.

  16. this nation is run by fools … our “CREATOR” tried to warn us … we were to arrogant to listen … so we get this ‘comedy show ‘…….

      1. YNOT, you can not scientifically prove that God doesn’t exist any more than those believing in God can prove he does. Both are faith based ideas. Since you call people fools for believing in God I will turn the phrase around (Prairie please take note) and call you a fool for not believing in God but more-so because your argument lacks intelligent content.

        1. the most profound thing that the physicists can say to the “Prime Mover” argument for God’s existence is that time is an illusion and that prior to the Big Bang there was a “quantum foam” from which “may have emerged” an “infinite number of universes” etc.

          Of course that is basically just speculation, not a testable nor falsifiable hypothesis, so it can’t be scientifically verified.

          But don’t try pointing that out to people who place their faith in the anointed priests of academia.

          1. Kurtz, I don’t generally formalize belief or lack of belief in God. When one looks at what God is supposed to be one can also look at the man who envisions no religion where he believes he is able to create a utopia filled with social justice, reason, and enlightenment. That man perceives himself as a God.

            The truth is that is an arrogant and ignorant man.

          1. YNOT your above comment proves my point.

            “YNOT, you can not scientifically prove that God doesn’t exist any more than those believing in God can prove he does. Both are faith based ideas. Since you call people fools for believing in God I will turn the phrase around (Prairie please take note) and call you a fool for not believing in God but more-so because your argument lacks intelligent content.”

    1. Easy way out of that is to turn our backs on the illegals, the socialists, and those who gave up their US citizenship in favor of allegiance to a foreign ideology.

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