How The House Lost The Witnesses Along With The Impeachment

Below is my column in The Hill newspaper on the continued effort to ignore the obvious and catastrophic decision of the House leadership to rush the impeachment vote by Christmas rather than complete the record against President Donald Trump. This denial continues despite the fact that, after saying that they had no time to seek witnesses or favorable court orders, the House leadership then waited a month before released the articles of impeachment. Clearly, the record would have been stronger if the House waited and sought to compel witnesses. It also would have kept control of the record and the case. I encouraged them to vote in March or April, which would have given them plenty of time to secure additional testimony and certainly a number of favorable court orders. However, recognizing this obvious blunder would take away from the narrative that the case failed only because the Republicans were protecting Trump in the Senate.

Here is the column:

NBC host Chuck Todd recently asked guests on his show if supporters of President Trump just want to be lied to. It is a question that many in the media would never ask about Democrats, even in the face of overtly false claims. This week is an example. After the Senate rejected witnesses and effectively ended the impeachment trial on Friday, the media ignored the primary reason for the defeat, which is the insistence of House leaders to impeach Trump by Christmas. Critics of the president simply do not want to hear that the blind rush to impeach guaranteed not only an acquittal but an easy case for acquittal. It is after all important for some members of the media to maintain that fools dwell only in Republican red states.

When I appeared before the House Judiciary Committee in November, I opposed four proposed articles of impeachment as legally flawed and explained that two would be legitimate if they were proven. The House Judiciary Committee rejected the challenged articles and accepted the two articles on abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. That left one fundamental area of disagreement. I warned the panel that it was rushing to a failed impeachment by insisting on a vote by Christmas. This was the shortest impeachment investigation in American history. It was also the narrowest grounds and thinnest record for trial. I have previously noted that witnesses like former national security adviser John Bolton indicated that they were willing to testify if subpoenaed, and that a couple months would have likely secured more testimony and supportive court orders.

Indeed, in the impeachment case of President Nixon, it took only a few months to go all the way to the Supreme Court for the final decision. So absent such a delay, the impeachment of Trump was guaranteed to fail, due to an incomplete and insufficient record. Yet the House insisted this was a “crime in progress” and there was no time to delay a submission to the Senate. It then immediately contradicted its rationale by waiting more than a month to submit articles of impeachment to the Senate. The House simply could not have made it easier on the president and his legal team.

The media ignored the obvious catastrophic blunder by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her leadership. The media instead suggested that it was all some grand and brilliant scheme. They even credited the strategy with Bolton eventually coming forward to say he would testify with a subpoena, even though the same offer was made during the House investigation. The media also ignored the unexplained decision by the House to withdraw a subpoena for top Bolton aide Charles Kupperman, who went to court as a prerequisite for testimony, the same position taken by Bolton. Before the courts could even rule, the House mooted the case by withdrawing the subpoena. That made no sense, and the court dismissed the case after concluding that the House appeared to have no interest in the witness.

No harm would have come from pursuing testimony by Kupperman. Yet lead House manager Adam Schiff offered a facially dubious explanation that Kupperman had said he would litigate the issue. If Kupperman truly wanted to drag out litigation, he could have refused to appear before the House and waited for it to seek to compel his testimony. Instead, he said he just wanted a court order in favor of testifying for his own protection. Moreover, House Democrats continued to seek to compel the testimony of former White House counsel Donald McGahn, despite his continued litigation. It won that case as the House was voting on impeachment.

As these blunders by the House became more and more obvious, all the efforts to excuse them became more and more absurd. One main defense heard in the media was that it did not matter, given the Senate Republican majority. Yet if the House was certain to lose on that record, why end the investigation prematurely with a case that would be so easy to defeat? By waiting only a few months, the record would have been stronger. Instead, House Democrats surrendered control of the record to the opposing party and adopted a ridiculous strategy of demanding concessions to end with this trial that Senate Republicans loathed. That strategy failed miserably.

This is not Monday morning quarterbacking. This very series of events was expressly laid out before the vote, and House Democrats made a decision to choose certain failure over completing their impeachment case. There was no reason to expect Senate Republicans to assist House managers in making their case, particularly in calling witnesses not subpoenaed by the House. Democrats had opposed any witnesses in the impeachment trial of President Clinton and voted as a bloc for a summary acquittal. There was no reason to expect Republicans to adopt an entirely different approach.

We will never know how this impeachment trial would have unfolded if the House had waited to secure additional testimony and court orders. One thing, however, is certain. The case against the president could only have become stronger. The vote for witnesses failed by one for a tie and by two for a majority. A more complete record could well have tipped the balance and certainly would have made the vote against witnesses more difficult for some senators. Instead, the House submitted an incomplete record and failed to subpoena important witnesses like Bolton, making it quite easy for the Senate to refuse to do what the House had never even tried.

None of the explanations offered by House Democrats make any logical sense. That, however, does not matter. As Todd said of supporters of the president, people “want to be lied to sometimes” and “do not always love being told hard truths.” The hard truth is that House Democrats lost this case the minute they rushed an impeachment vote, and they knew it. With the approaching Iowa caucuses, they chose a failed impeachment rather than taking a few more months to work on a more complete case against Trump, a case more difficult to summarily dismiss. That is the hard truth.

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.

247 thoughts on “How The House Lost The Witnesses Along With The Impeachment”

  1. “….the Palestinians are denied a state of their own”
    Natacha may not watch anything but “Fox News”, judging by her endless mention of Fox.
    This isn’t from Fox, so I don’t think she’ll read it. Bill Clinton is talking about the 2000 Israeli- Palestinian peace deal that fell through.
    Dennis Ross was the point man in that negotiation process, and Ross has commented extensively on Arafat’s rejection of the plan.
    Barak was Israel’s Prime Minister at the time, and went far beyond any previous offers by Israel in an attempt to get a lasting peace accord.

  2. All references to international law are vacuous. Angela Channing explains at 1:32 what belongs to whom.

  3. The whole thing was just a campaign ad series. They couldn’t afford to go from a pardoned Trump to an anti socialist like Pence. And the knew it. Bad enough they were publicly convicted by themselves of throwing their DACA guests under the bus three times.

  4. In other words, how “Radical Leftist Shot Themselves in the Foot”. I hope they can keep it up.

  5. Down below there is a comment which helps indicate the ignorance of Trump supporters:

    No, methane is odorless, Absurd x16 and others.

    1. David:
      Funny, I’ve never encountered methane without its odorant that is used as a safety measure by every public utility. Maybe you spend your days poking sticks into the murky bottoms of swamps but most of us don’t and we report what we encounter with our senses. That’s doesn’t make us ignorant. It makes you a pompous ass.

      1. mespo, you simply do not understand the chemistry. The claim wasn’t from utility sources, fool.

        1. David:
          There was no “claim” about “methane” downstream at all. I checked. That was in your head probably cause by some mention of a “fart” which gets its distinctive odor from hydrogen sulphide and ammonia not methane there Mister Curie. Let me let you in on a little blog secret. Few pay any attention to your steam of consciousness ramblings much less check your facts. Mostly we just read the blather, chuckle and leave content that you’ve reached a new level of superciliousness. Your conversations with yourself are a treasure. Occasionally, we’ll comment to let you know you’re not just baying at the moon alone. It’s more of a courtesy than call to dialog. But please carry on. Every kingdom needs it’s fool.

      2. mespo – David worked at an ag school, I am surprised he can still recognize the smell of methane. 🙂

          1. David Benson is the God Emperor of Making Stuff Up and owes me forty-two citations (one from the OED, one from the town ordinances and two from the Old Testament), an equation and the source of a quotation, after sixty-two weeks, and needs to cite all his work from now on. – are you denying WSU is an ag school? They will be so offended.

    2. methane is odorless except when people smell the hydrogen sulfide that utility companies add to it. so yeah it stinks
      like mespo said

      and farts stink too for whatever reasons besides the methane which also comes out in them

      don’t be too fussy, the point somebody made that you refer to, if I guess correctly, was that Natch opens her mouth and gas comes out. you get the picture! the one end of her gut stinks as bad as the other and both emanate noxious gas. her bloviating verbal flatulence and boring slanders are a repetitious expulsion of hot stinky air

      whomever posted that gets a star for the day for the most memorable image see here we are a day later still talking on it

      1. and farts stink too for whatever reasons besides the methane which also comes out in them

        Benson is never interested in dialogue but rather buttressing his weak, insecure ego at his age. Using the internet to find meaning or purpose is not healthy

        Methane is a byproduct of commensal bacteria in our gut and they stink for a reason. Methane is odorless in its pure state but to make sure, maybe Darren can toss a methane tank towards Benson’s way. I’ll leave it up to Darren if he wishes to ignite it. Relax. Just toss a half of a mole of it which is all of 8 grams. Nothing significant will happen… I think

        Methane (CH4), is a gas produced by a group of colonic anaerobes, absorbed from the colon and excreted in expired air. As a result, breath CH4 excretion can be used as an indicator of the in situ activity of the methanogenic flora. All CH4 produced in human beings is a metabolic product of intestinal bacteria, and about 50% of CH4 produced in the gut is absorbed and excreted in expired air. Because there appears to be no catabolism of this gas by other colonic organisms or host cells, breath CH4 measurements provide a rapid, simple means of semi quantitatively assessing the ongoing in situ metabolism of the methanogenic flora.


    1. Gotta laugh at the short memories of the dimms. If Mr. Trump is ‘damaging’ the office, Nixon & Clinton should have destroyed it! Then there is the 180′ turn by some the Clinton dimms in this conjured preplanned conspiracy mess.

      If Prez Trump had actually done something impeachable in real life rather than in the NWO sock puppet dimm’s wet dreams, that would be an entirely different matter.

      I mean Golly Sarge! They were hollering ‘impeachment’ before the man was even AT the White House. They didn’t even give Mr. T a chance to do anything bad!


      1. Wait. Did you say “destroy the office?”

        Obongo Congo was the first instance of the Deep Deep State ensconcing in the office of the president a pot-head, communistity organizer, empty-suit, exponentially narcissistic, utterly ineligible, son of a foreign citizen and anti-American-anti-colonialist, direct, mortal and Muslim enemy of the Untied States who swore to tear down America and “fundamentally transform” the United States.

        In your face from the globalization committee of the Deep Deep State.

    2. Talk about egregious impeachable offenses.

      Obongo Congo weaponized the IRS, conducted Fast and Furious as a political stunt and international incident in a foreign country, etc., etc., etc.

      He should have been impeached and Drawn and Quartered in the public square.

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