What History Really Tells Us About Senate Trials

200px-110th_US_Senate_class_photoBelow is my column on history — and some dubious historical claims — related to Senate impeachment trials.  As with the conflicting position on witnesses of some senators, the growing narrative in the media that Republicans senators have departed from the tradition of the Senate in commenting on trial has more hypocrisy than history behind it.  I have repeatedly encouraged senators not to discuss the evidence or their likely votes, but that is a rule honored historically in the breach by members of this curious trial jury.

Here is column:

George Bernard Shaw said that “only lawyers and mental defectives are automatically exempt for jury duty.” Unless, of course, it is the Senate, where you can be both of those and still sit as a required jury member.

The controversial role of senators in an impeachment trial is back in the news, as various House members challenged the right of some Senate Republicans to take the oath to promise impartial justice after defending President Trump. Less than 24 hours after being named one of the seven House impeachment managers, Representative Val Demings called for the recusal of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell for being biased. Her proposal is as unfounded as it is ironic, since she called for the removal of Trump more than a year ago, which was before the Ukrainian phone call.

In reality, the rules of the impeachment trial are set by Senate majority vote. Moreover, the White House has not had its way on its two principal demands for summary dismissal or witness testimony. But the premise of much of this discussion is that the coordination and comments made by Republicans violate both their oaths and Senate tradition. This view was amplified by University of North Carolina law professor Michael Gerhardt, who testified as a witness with me in the House impeachment inquiry.

Poppy Harlow asked him “how normal or abnormal” it is for the Senate majority leader to work in such “lockstep” with the White House on a trial. Gerhardt declared, “It is extremely unusual. This is the first time in history when the president was coordinating with a big bloc of people from his own party in the Senate.” He continued, “Bill Clinton was not coordinating with the Democrats. In fact, they kept a fair distance between themselves. This is the first time we have seen this kind of coordination.” Despite my respect for Gerhardt, history does not actually bear out that statement.

Little is known of the coordination during the impeachment of President Johnson in 1868. However, the Senate was overwhelmingly Republican and opposed to Johnson, who was affiliated with Democrats and later the National Union Party. The very idea of the majority coordinating with him on the trial would have been absurd. With President Nixon, Democrats controlled both the House and the Senate. Moreover, no trial was being actively planned and Nixon chose to resign before he was impeached.

That leaves the trial of President Clinton. Again, there was no coordination with former Majority Leader Trent Lott because Republicans controlled the Senate. Yet Democrats Harry Reid and Tom Daschle did coordinate with the White House, as reported in the media. The book “The Breach” details the close workings between the Senate and the White House staff. Clinton also spoke with senators. Howard Kurtz of the Washington Post back then had reported on a “Democratic senator who was consulting regularly with President Clinton” on the trial, and an Associated Press story had reported that senators and the White House were finalizing the strategy for the trial.

Some like Daschle were uncomfortable. He said Clinton was “leaning very heavily” on Senator Ted Kennedy and noted that “these are the 35 names, things he wanted, and a strategy he wanted to pursue.” Daschle tried to maintain some distance but admitted that he and Kennedy pursued the same approach on the details for the trial. Now, however, the objections ignore the close coordination between House Democrats, who act as the prosecutors, and Senate Democrats, who act as the jurors. As with the White House discussions, there is nothing unusual in such coordination.

The same is true with pretrial commentary. Senators should refrain from stating conclusions about the evidence before trial, but they were never expected to stop being politicians. Unfortunately, the rule of restraint is observed in the breach by many. Minority Leader Charles Schumer is a rather curious ethics oracle in denouncing his Republican counterparts for expressing support for Trump. History shows that Schumer ran for the Senate based on his promise made before trial to vote to acquit Clinton.

When it comes to Senate trials, bias is in the eye of the beholder. While the media has focused on comments by Republicans, many Democrats have been as vocal in declaring Trump guilty as their counterparts have been in declaring him innocent. Senator Elizabeth Warren campaigned on his guilt and, when asked if she intends to vote to convict Trump, vowed clearly, “Of course I will.” Senator Kamala Harris declared, “As a former prosecutor, I know a confession when I see it. He did it in plain sight.”

Senator Chris Coons warned the nation about the dangers of failing to convict and remove Trump. Senator Amy Klobuchar not only declared Trump guilty but described the allegations against him as nothing less than a global Watergate. Senator Richard Blumenthal wrote that Trump is guilty ahead of the House impeachment vote. Senator Chris Murphy said Trump was “preying on a vulnerable foreign nation” for “personal political benefit,” while Senator Jack Reed accused Trump of a shakedown. Senator Brian Schatz claimed that supporting Trump would “swallow the republic.”

Senator Edward Markey said our “very democracy” is at stake here and “there is no place” for Trump to hide. Senator Sherrod Brown admitted he is “disappointed in my colleagues, this see no evil, hear no evil attitude.” Apparently, all the “see only evil, hear only evil” comments of his fellow Democrats are not a problem. House manager Adam Schiff called the pretrial comments a disgrace, but of course only those of Republicans.

Senators are not asked to sequester themselves or to take a vow of silence before a trial. The Framers had no delusions about the jurors designated in the Constitution. They knew that these trials demand an unnatural act to set politics aside in the jury deliberations. Politicians were no less biased or more circumspect in the 18th century than they are in the 21st century. Indeed, politicians are one of the few elements of government that have changed little over time in terms of their predictability or predilections.

While unfortunate, comments on the merits of impeachment are neither unprecedented nor unexpected from politicians. What is expected is that senators ultimately will vote their conscience. Past impeachments have shown that senators can indeed transcend petty political instincts when their names are called, not just by the clerk but by history.

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 serves as both CBS and BBC legal analyst. 

127 thoughts on “What History Really Tells Us About Senate Trials”

  1. And to think all of this is just about the guy who can’t pay his bills any better than he could back in New York.

  2. White House To Senate:

    John Bolton Cannot Possibly Testify!

    The Washington Post has run a story tonight regarding deep anxiety at the White House. Apparently Trump’s worst nightmare would be John Bolton’s testimony at the impeachment trial. The White House may seek a court injunction to prevent Bolton’s testimony. If that doesn’t work, another idea would be moving Bolton’s testimony to a secure room closed off to the public and media. It seems the Democrats might only need ‘one’ Republican Senator to vote for witnesses (in addition to three Republicans who might already be receptive. Therefore the White House is truly worried.

      1. Thanks Seth. Article confirms the WH lawyers are running scared, and well they should. Many GOP Senators have to be wary of voting against witnesses given that the truth will likely spill out later, making them look like either fools or complicit in a cover up. If witnesses are heard and catch major public attention, the dynamics of not only the 2020 race, but even the Senate hearings could pivot dramatically. Remember, most of those Senators hate Trump’s guts for taking over their party and treating them like furniture.

    1. The Washington Post has run a story tonight regarding deep anxiety at the White House. Apparently Trump’s worst nightmare would be John Bolton’s testimony at the impeachment trial.
      _________________________________________________
      Is that the same Washington Post that reported dozens of times that the walls were closing in on Trump during the Mueller investigation?

  3. Cool, now can we get the opinion of faculty at the 21 law schools more highly regarded than yours, where obviously far better people teach law and not RW foolishness?

  4. “The Articles of Impeachment now before the Senate are an affront to the Constitution and to our democratic institutions. The Articles themselves—and the rigged process that brought them here—are a brazenly political act by House Democrats that must be rejected.

    They debase the grave power of impeachment and disdain the solemn responsibility that power entails. Anyone having the most basic respect for the sovereign will of the American people would shudder at the enormity of casting a vote to impeach a duly elected President.

    By contrast, upon tallying their votes, House Democrats jeered until they were scolded into silence by the Speaker. The process that brought the articles here violated every precedent and every principle of fairness followed in impeachment inquiries for more than 150 years.

    Even so, all that House Democrats have succeeded in proving is that the President did absolutely nothing wrong. All of this is a dangerous perversion of the Constitution that the Senate should swiftly and roundly condemn.”

    https://www.whitehouse.gov/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/Trial-Memorandum-of-President-Donald-J.-Trump.pdf

    1. That’s utter nonsense. Democrats have presented the strongest case for impeaching a president that this country has ever seen.

      1. That’s utter nonsense. Democrats have presented the strongest case for impeaching a president that this country has ever seen.
        ____________________________________________
        It would be a strong case if the witnesses that know the facts testify what you expect. but what if they don’t?
        What if the witnesses that know why and when the aid to Ukraine was delayed testify just the opposite of what you expect? Then the case is pretty damn weak and the Democrats look like idiots.

        1. How about this: the WH takes the cuffs off of the witnesses who have direct knowledge of the facts stated in the impeachment articles, as in :Bolton, Pompeo, and so forth. How about they release all of the documents requested by the House? If they are classified, then they can be reviewed in a SCIF, but release them to members of Congress who can decide how much and what can properly be disclosed. THEN let the American people decide whether he should be impeached. Clinton cooperated with the House investigation. So did Nixon. Trump won’t. Why? He claims complete executive privilege. He claims Article II allows him to do whatever he wants. The U.S. Supreme Court held, in U.S. v. Nixon, 418 U.S. 683, that executive privilege only applies to military and diplomatic secrets, documents integral to domestic decisional and policy making functions, but high-level communications cannot, without more, sustain an absolute unqualified presidential privilege of immunity from judicial process under all circumstances. Trump is wrong–none of the witness testimony or documents fall under the categories of documents and information that are privileged. He can’t even make a cogent argument for how or why they do, but instead claims blanket immunity for everything under investigation by the House. But the bigger question is: what does he have to hide? It must be something. If the charges are a “hoax”, then cooperate and PROVE IT.

          Republicans can’t have it both ways: they can’t say it’s OK for Trump to handcuff witnesses and refuse to produce documents, despite the ruling by the SCOTUS, and then say Trump was “exonerated”. There is ample evidence to support the Articles of Impeachment already, but refusal to allow further investigation is simply obstruction of justice and flaunting of the clear mandate provided by the Constitution for the House to act as a check and balance on the Executive Branch. Republicans can’t be patriots and deny the American people the truth. If Trump refuses to allow witnesses to testify and won’t release documents, they must find that he obstructed justice and vote to impeach and remove him from office.

          1. How about this: the WH takes the cuffs off of the witnesses who have direct knowledge
            ____________________________________

            It will happen, but first he will make you beg for it for months.

        2. It’s a violation of federal law to withhold aid appropriated by Congress regardless of the reason.. Republicans and Trumpsters cannot deny the aid was delayed for 84 critical days, when Ukraine was in hot conflict with Russia. Trump is trying to claim that he did this for some altruistic reason: to force other countries to pay more aid to help Ukraine, but that won’t fly, either. Read the testimony of Fiona Hill and the other witnesses who testified before the House. He got rid of our Ambassador because she wouldn’t go along with the plot. And, “quid pro quo” is not required. Mere solicitation of assistance of a foreign government with a candidate’s election is enough. That’s another violation of the law. Trump delayed the aid for political reasons, and that should be enough for any American patriot. How could making Ukraine even more vulnerable to Russian aggression work to force other countries to pay more, and why is Trump obsessed with how much aid Congress appropriates compared to other countries? Congress represents American citizens and controls how our money is allocated. Trump is, however, beholden to Russians, and they benefitted by withholding this aid: they got more territory and Trump helped them do it.

          As if all of this wasn’t enough, Trump also obstructed justice on the nonexistent grounds of executive privilege. He handcuffed the House’s efforts to investigate this matter. He needs to go. Now.

          1. It’s a violation of federal law to withhold aid appropriated by Congress regardless of the reason..

            Which is worse, threatening to withhold aid that they know they won’t receive, or delaying aid they never knew was delayed? The former is a victim of extortion and the latter has no victim and no crime. At the very least, shouldn’t they both receive the same level of scrutiny?

          2. https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/giving-weapons-to-ukraine-could-goad-putin-into-a-regional-war/2015/02/05/ec2e9680-abf5-11e4-ad71-7b9eba0f87d6_story.html
            It’s interesting that Fiona Hill warned against arming Ukraine in a 2015 Op Ed.
            (Ukraine has been fight the separatists since 2014).
            I don’t know if this came up in her testimony, but warning about the dangers of arming Ukraine in 2015, then warning about the dangers of delaying shipment of even more lethal weapons in 2019, is a curious shift.

      2. NE:

        Brigand is right. Why don’t you tell us all about your experience in evaluating impeachment cases? Teaching, participating or just researching … you know anything!

  5. I wonder if Jonathan Turley agrees that Donald Trump tried to cheat in the 2020 election.

    That’s really the key issue at the heart of this whole impeachment: House Democrats, including all but two vulnerable Democrats from districts that voted for Trump, believe that Trump attempted to cheat in the upcoming election and will not stop attempting to do so unless he is removed from office.

    If Turley agrees that Trump did so, most of his arguments are irrelevant.

    So it would seem Turley does not agree. In which case, how does he explain Trump’s actions?

    1. Tell us again how much George Soros pays you? Is VPN thrown in or do you just park your broom outside peoples homes in Gainesville and use their WiFi?

      1. Tell us again how much Rebekah Mercer pays you?

        Apparently you can’t argue the facts and have moved to ad hominem.

        1. Anon you used that canned response in your previous fake profile name and the one before that and the one before that and the one before that, all the while embodying how to perfect ad hominems

          your handlers must be scraping the bottle of Paynes Prarie in Gainesville with keeping you on their payroll

    2. Does Jonathan Turley agree with the President’s defense brief filed today that if the Senate convicts Donald Trump, the conviction itself would be unconstitutional?

    3. Turley is doing mental gymnastics because his status as a professor at the 22nd ranked lawsuit leaves him out of traditional legal paths to notoriety, so he’s allowed himself to become a RW ideologue for what he craves most, validation.

      1. Mueller clearly showed that Donald Trump (1) had a secret deal in Russia that would have been the biggest of his career; (2) hid that fact from the American public, which gave Vladimir Putin leverage over him; and (3) needed U.S. sanctions on Russia lifted in order for the deal to proceed. And then Trump tried to lift those very sanctions.

        Q.E.D. collusion.

        1. NEB:
          None of that is true but carry on. We all like watching a liar flame out and burn. Prepare yourself for the next five years of pure misery for you.
          Schadenfreude is a great German dish.

          PS QED “Collusion” isn’t a crime or offense in this context. But don’t let that legal fact slow you down.

          1. Mespo again thinks his fantasies are argument winning weapons. This guy is really a lawyer?

            By the way, mespo’s most recent fantasy/predictions were that the House would not impeach Trump and then when they did, he said they wouldn’t deliver the articles to the Senate. That was only about 2 weeks ago and Allan backed him up on that one.

  6. Referring to Senators as “jurors” is confusing, limiting, and inconsistent with the Constitution. This issue came up during Clinton’s impeachment. Chief Justice Rehnquist ruled that “The Senate is not simply a jury, it is a court in this case. Therefore counsel should refrain from referring to senators as jurors.” The source for Rehnquist’s ruling was the Constitution of the United States of America, Article III, Section 2 (last paragraph): “The Trial of all Crimes, except in the Case of Impeachment, shall be by Jury;”.

  7. History will not be a precursor to the trial of President Trump because there has never been such animus, such vitriol for a President before & when the media is SO Left Leaning & Liberal Biased, it has been doing a terrible disservice to the American people not delivering negatives AND positives about beloved President Trump.

    1. You should consider the possibility that there really is very little that is positive to say about President Trump. Some people really are as bad as general opinion holds them to be.

      1. You should consider that your handlers are feeding you crushed talc and aspirin instead of fresh cocaine. That would explain in part your numerous fake profile names on here

        Note to David Brock: your paid trolls are really lame. Send us some worthy trolls

        1. I never posted to Mr. Turley’s blog before today, and I have used just this one screen name here. Based on the replies, it appears that many commenters here are used to having their false statements go unchallenged. Rather bubble-like, that.

          1. “I never posted to Mr. Turley’s blog before today”

            And Bill Clinton never touched that woman. That’s because he lied about raping a great number of women

            “bubble-like”

            the left wing talking points continue.

            Might you try an original thought?

            1. As far as I know, there is fairly credible evidence of Bill Clinton raping one woman, Juanita Broaddrick. And that’s horrible! But also, Ken Starr and Brett Kavanaugh didn’t believe Broaddrick was credible to include her accusation in the Indpendent Counsel’s report to Congress, so the American public was in the dark and less inclined to believe Broaddrick when she did come forward. But if you have information about Clinton “raping a great number of women”, why aren’t you sharing it?

  8. History will tell us absolutely nothing about the impeachment process, or the trial of impeachment held in the Senate, because all we will find is a series of usurpations, and outright corruption, to circumvent the legislative process that governs impeachment and the trial for impeachment, to render the process wholly partisan and ineffective to the intended purpose, the control of the President and executive departments by the States as they are assembled in Congress.

    The conclusive paragraph of Federalist #77, “The Executive Department”, by Hamilton puts all issues surrounding this impeachment into its proper context;

    “We have now completed a survey of the structure and powers of the executive department, which, I have endeavored to show, combines, as far as republican principles will admit, all the requisites to energy. The remaining inquiry is: Does it also combine the requisites to safety, in a republican sense, a due dependence on the people, a due responsibility? The answer to this question has been anticipated in the investigation of its other characteristics, and is satisfactorily deducible from these circumstances; from the election of the President once in four years by persons immediately chosen by the people for that purpose; and from his being at all times liable to impeachment, trial, dismission from office, incapacity to serve in any other, and to forfeiture of life and estate by subsequent prosecution in the common course of law. But these precautions, great as they are, are not the only ones which the plan of the convention has provided in favor of the public security. In the only instances in which the abuse of the executive authority was materially to be feared, the Chief Magistrate of the United States would, by that plan, be subjected to the control of a branch of the legislative body. What more could be desired by an enlightened and reasonable people?

    Publius.”

    What’s at issue today is first the election of the President, next the power and authority of the President to make decisions to form domestic and/or foreign policy, and the removal of the President for insubordination to the Authority of the united States, in congress assembled! And upon even a casual reading of the above excerpt you will find that all of these issues are addressed in this conclusion.

    The selection of the President is both indirect and blind election process preventing bias and interference, even by those currently seated in the Federal Legislature or their States.
    “from the election of the President once in four years by persons immediately chosen by the people for that purpose”

    To the threat of removal to compel subordination.
    “from his being at all times liable to impeachment, trial, dismission from office, incapacity to serve in any other, and to forfeiture of life and estate by subsequent prosecution in the common course of law.”

    To the direct control and subordination of the President to the Legislative authority, the united States, in congress assembled.
    “But these precautions, great as they are, are not the only ones which the plan of the convention has provided in favor of the public security. In the only instances in which the abuse of the executive authority was materially to be feared, the Chief Magistrate of the United States would, by that plan, be subjected to the control of a branch of the legislative body.”

    Congress is an assembly of the States as the decision making body for their union, the united States, in congress assembled, the union which makes our country the United States of America.

    Congress is not an assembly of Parties, and parties are not apportioned any representation or Suffrage to participate in Congress or vote to reach Majority Consensus according to the mode of Assembly of each branch of the Bicameral Legislature.

    When we finally come to grips with the purpose, assembly, and distribution of power through rights of Suffrage to reach Majority Consensus of Congress as the decision making assembly of the States, then congress, and the executive department, will function as intended and there will never be a need to impeach or remove the President.

    1. Interminable volumes are required by FPR to grasp and assimilate the succinct edicts of the American Founders. The Constitution and Bill of Rights hold dominion. The Federalist Papers have no relevance, do not bear and are entirely without force or effect. But that we could expunge the “Fog Factor” which FPR wields as a semantic weapon, however ineffectively. Each word has a meaning and it means nothing else; no more; no less. The “manifest tenor” is all that matters.
      __________________________________________________________________

      “…courts…must…declare all acts contrary to the manifest tenor of the Constitution void.”

      “[A] limited Constitution … can be preserved in practice no other way than through the medium of courts of justice, whose duty it must be to declare all acts contrary to the manifest tenor of the Constitution void. Without this, all the reservations of particular rights or privileges would amount to nothing … To deny this would be to affirm … that men acting by virtue of powers may do not only what their powers do not authorize, but what they forbid.”

      – Alexander Hamilton
      _________________

      Article 1, Section 2

      The House of Representatives shall chuse their Speaker and other Officers; and shall have the sole Power of Impeachment.
      __________________________________________________________________________________________________

      Article 1, Section 3

      The Senate shall have the sole Power to try all Impeachments. When sitting for that Purpose, they shall be on Oath or Affirmation. When the President of the United States is tried, the Chief Justice shall preside: And no Person shall be convicted without the Concurrence of two thirds of the Members present.
      ________________________________________

      Article 2, Section 4

      The President, Vice President and all civil officers of the United States, shall be removed from office on impeachment for, and conviction of, treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.

      1. The passages from the Constitution that you cite don’t tell us whether or not Donald Trump should be convicted, which is the question at hand, and the question that fpr was addressing.

        Accordingly the courts regularly turn to the Federalist Papers and other statements by the Founders and Framers, as well as to the British law they likely would have had in mind, when attempting to determine what the Constitution means.

        Also, why write that “The Constitution and Bill of Rights hold dominion”? What does the Bill of Rights have to do with impeachment? And why should the first ten amendments matter more than the rest?

        1. The debate over and the rationale for America’s fundamental law and the law of a foreign nations carry no weight or force in the U.S. The question of whether President Trump should be impeached will be decided by 435 authorized votes. Similarly, the question of whether President Trump should be convicted will be decided by 100 authorized votes. No other opinions matter or bear. You are aware, as are all Americans, that the evidence has been presented in the press and it does not prove a crime, high or low. You are also aware that the charges are entirely political, should not have been brought and will not stand. In America, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights hold dominion and constitute fundamental law, portions of which bear directly on impeachment and conviction.

          I do not recognize the “Reconstruction Amendments” which were rammed through by Lincoln’s successors. At some point in the future, those anomalies must be expunged and repealed as was the 18th by the 21st; the legal arguments being myriad. Lincoln was criminal and illegitimate (Chief Justice Taney told him his suspension of Habeas Corpus was an unconstitutional high crime), having won 1860 with 38.9% of the vote and 1864 with brute military force. Lincoln’s wholly unconstitutional “Reign of Terror” should not have introduced or corruptly and improperly ratified any amendments under the duress of Lincoln’s de facto dictatorship and post-war military occupation, the South having suffered the brutality of the total war during Sherman’s March to the Sea and the North having been compelled into a war which most were against (no nation in history ever eliminated slavery by war). Sic Semper Tyrannis.

          Madison admonished Americans to “…not injure the Constitution.” Obviously, the 19th Amendment is disastrous for America having placed its fertility rate in a “death spiral.” The proof is in the pudding as more Americans die than are born. Women have transitioned from producing a population sufficient to defend and grow the nation to aborting babies and ceasing effective childbirth. Apparently, women are the true misogynists as they hate pregnancy, childbirth and nurturing – women’s greatest desire is to be and fill the role of men. The population of America is imported because America is dying – by contrast, the American population was required to consist of “…free white person(s)…” four times by the Founders in their Naturalization Acts of 1790, 1795, 1798 and 1802, and we presume the Founders knew what was constitutional, moral and apropos. Not only has the 19th Amendment “injured the Constitution,” the 19th Amendment is killing America and “fundamentally transforming” it.

          ”And if there are amendments desired, of such a nature as will not injure the constitution, and they can be ingrafted so as to give satisfaction to the doubting part of our fellow citizens; the friends of the federal government will evince that spirit of deference and concession for which they have hitherto been distinguished.”

          – James Madison, Proposed Amendments to the Constitution, June 8, 1789

          1. No, George, neither I nor most thinking people are “aware …. that the evidence has been presented in the press and it does not prove a crime, high or low.”

            To most Americans, it’s clear that Trump tried to cheat in the 2020 election.

  9. When the facts are in your favor argue the facts. When you don’t have the facts argue the law. That seems to be the position of Alan Dershowitz when he was interviewed by George Stephonopoulos on Sunday. Dershowitz said even if all the evidence is accepted as fact Trump should still should not be convicted because: “The vote was to impeach on abuse of power–which is not within the constitutional criteria for impeachment”. Duke University law professor Lisa Kern Griffin doesn’t accept Dershowitz’s narrow view. “Although the Constitution expressly cites bribery as grounds for impeachment, it does not require that any criminal offense be committed in order for impeachment to occur”. This is what I learned when I took constitutional law in law school. When the framers of the Constitution wrote the impeachment clause and included “misdemeanors” they no doubt believed that lesser offenses, like misusing the office of President for personal gain, betrayal and corruption could be a basis for impeachment. Charles Black, Jr., author of “Impeachment: A Handbook”, speaks of offenses that “so seriously threaten the order of political society as to make pestilent and dangerous the continuance in power of their perpetrator”. What’s your take, Jonathan?

    1. DM:

      “’Although the Constitution expressly cites bribery as grounds for impeachment, it does not require that any criminal offense be committed in order for impeachment to occur.’ This is what I learned when I took constitutional law in law school. When the framers of the Constitution wrote the impeachment clause and included “misdemeanors” they no doubt believed that lesser offenses, like misusing the office of President for personal gain, betrayal and corruption could be a basis for impeachment.”
      *******************
      The legal question is open but the better opinion is that a specific non-enumerated crime is not required for “High Crimes and Misdemeanors.” It goes back to England where impeaching for any old, impetuous reason by the House of Common was routinely swatted down by the House of Lords. There was a malfeasance component not required in the US, however. Also there was a Rule of Reason where some abuse of office was required to be shown.

    2. It is telling that the only “legal scholars” the RW can dig up for Trump are a guy pushed out of academia 7 years ago due to mental decline and Turley, a guy stuck at the 22nd rated (and number 2 in his own city) because he isn’t nearly as qualified as his peers.

      1. Oh, and I forgot, Ken Starr, who got booted from his last gig for hiding sexual assaults…You can’t make this up anymore…The defense team and House managers for Trump have more history of hiding sexually assaulted youth than your average NAMBLA convention. That’s not a slur, it is literally 100% FACT

          1. olly, those are all facts regarding Starr and Dershowitz except ionsports left out that both were on Epstein’s legal team as well.

  10. OT: There a nice crowd here at the Capitol in Richmond today. Rumor has it Gov. Blackface is cowering in his office surrounding by armed guards but that’s just a happy thought. Also got a nice shot of some Texas brothers reminding us of the battle of San Gonzales. Very Thermopylae! There’s a bigger cannon flag across the street from the Capitol but I can’t publish it here. Lots of good, respectful and well-behaved folks. Even AntiFa hates Gov. Blackface. They’re here too, showing support for the 2nd Amendment..
    https://www.wthr.com/article/thousands-rally-virginias-capital-gun-rights-1

    1. I’m glad that today’s event is peaceful. Good thing the FBI arrested those seven members of “The Base” who were planning to turn a machine gun on the crowd of counter-protesters. Did you notice that the rally to honor the memory of victims of gun violence was cancelled due to what its organizers described as credible threats?

      1. Cindy;

        Folks were very nice. (It’s the South, you know.) That’s a nightmare for politicians who know activists don’t or can’t vote. Respectful people driving hundreds of miles do vote especially when motivated. the votes I talked to were motivated!

  11. OT: On a happier note, about 30,000 here (with more coming) at the Capitol in Richmond to express their support for the 2nd Amendment. Even antifa showed up to oppose Gov. Blackface’s gun grab. Like Golda Meir said, ” I’d do business with the devil himself to save my country.” Go Antifa – if only for today? I shoulda dressed warmer.

  12. Turley’s name will be linked in history with Trump, so why does he keep digging? Having his name associated with Starr, Dershowitz and Bondi is sure to leave a stain. Starr, Dershowitz thought then that abuse of office and obstruction were good cause for impeachment, as did Turley. The stain on the office of the Presidency that Trump proves everyday is seen by these hypocritical lawyers as nothing to see here. Are the paid speeches from the Federalist Society really worth it Turley?

    1. The comment programmers proves once again that using the names of the Collectives phony list of non humans – and they cannot prove otherwise – has no place in a serious blog such as this one just as what the programmers represent has no place in our political system. where their success is measured by number of constitutional violations and breaking of their oath of office. But we allow the robotics to be printed just as if their was an actual human presence as continued proof the only rebuttals needed are REJECTED and Ad Machina

      1. Michael Aarethum, are you paid in dollars or rubles? Do you get trained on that speech and talking points from your trainers, or did you just make that up all by yourself ? Who is “we allow” ?

      2. Any chance you could rewrite your comment in English? You seem to be arguing against the use of pseudonyms (like “Publius” in the Federalist?), but no one here has any reason to think that “Michael Aarethun” is any more real than “FIshWings”.

    2. Although I disagree with Turley when he says that more evidence was needed to impeach Trump, his position is not irrational. The question is whether Turley thinks that the evidence we have now is sufficient to convict. I do. Turley has never stated his position on the latter question.

  13. bythebook: where were you when Republicans were denied witnesses in the Schiff-show or in the judiciary committee. You really are an idiot in the classical Greek meaning of the word.

    1. The republicans were not denied any witnesses relevant to the charges against the President.If you think they were, please list them.

  14. All Democrat Senators running for President need to recuse or they will be abusing the power of their office by trying to smear their potential election opponent.

    All Senators (Republican or Democrat) who stated that President Trump should be impeached prior to September 2020 must recuse … obviously are biased and incapable of impartiality.

    All Senators who lied about having evidence related to the Mueller Report should also recuse… obviously they are biased and pre-disposed to vote with partiality and need to be struck from the jury.

    Finally, all Senators who have spoken to or co-ordinated with any House Managers, have spoken to Nadler/Shiff committee members or to Spkr. Pelosi should recuse as they’ve obviously been corrupted in their oath to be fair and impartial. Hmmm … wonder how many Democrat Senators would be left?

  15. Where’s the lectures on the importance of witnesses JT, now that WH obstruction has pushed that element to the Senate? That was all you talked about, including this morning again, as a weapon against the House, but now barely a hint at their importance, as if there were some structural legal impossibility in the Senate making it blameless in their absence.

    Call for the witnesses. That’s what most Americans want and with good reason.

  16. Prof. Turley is right on. While all impeachments are political, the Trump impeachment is probably the most political in history.
    What is worth mentioning as well, is that there are Democrat Senators, who are running to take Trump’s job away from him, who are now sitting in the Senate impeachment as “unbiased” jurors. They breached their oaths in that respect the moment they swore they would be fair and impartial.

    1. If President Andrew Johnson had been removed in his 1868 trial, he would have been succeeded by one of the men voting on whether or not to convict him: Benjamin Wade, the president pro tempore of the Senate. (There was no Vice President at that time because Johnson had become President after Abraham Lincoln’s assassination and the Constitution had not yet been amended to have the new President appoint a V.P.)

      One senator called for Wade to recuse himself, but the Republican majority said this request impugned Wade’s character, and the request was withdrawn. In the end, Wade voted to convict, i.e., he voted to make himself President.

      (The Democrat who had called for Wade’s recusal, Thomas Hendricks, voted against Johnson’s conviction. He had also voted against the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments. Later he became Vice President.)

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