Warren Hastings and the Historical Basis for Retroactive Impeachments [Updated]

It sometimes seems that every impeachment road leads back to Warren Hastings.  Previously, I wrote about Hastings in addressing the bribery theories being voiced by Democratic leaders and legal experts in the first Trump impeachment. Now Hastings is back as a historical precedent for the impeachment of former officials.  As I have repeatedly in virtually every interview since the second Trump impeachment, there are good-faith arguments on the use of impeachment for former officials. However, Hastings is not particularly strong precedent beyond the obvious point that impeachment was used retroactively in Great Britain.

[I have added responses to comments on this column at the end]

I have written relatively few lines on retroactive impeachments over the last 30 years over hundreds of pages of writings on the subject. It simply has not been an issue for the United States after the Belknap case.  My prior interest in the Hastings case was to note that impeachment trials have a certain “dialogic” value for society and to contest the “executive theory” argument on impeachments.

As I previously wrote, Warren Hastings was Britain’s governor-general in India who was despised by some in the Parliament, including his greatest detractor Edmund Burke. Burke called him the “captain-general of iniquity” and a “spider of Hell.”  He later added the label of a “ravenous vulture devouring the carcasses of the dead.” Burke lead the impeachment of Hastings, who was arrested in 1787 by Parliament’s sergeant-at-arms.

Hastings was charged by the impeachment committee with bribery and other forms of abuse of power. The case dragged on for seven years before Hastings was acquitted on every article of impeachment. Even though Hastings did have some dodgy personal financial dealings, his impeachment today is widely viewed as an injustice, and Burke was ultimately censured for his “intemperate” rhetoric.

There are many aspects of the Hastings trial that were rejected as abusive and certainly would not be tolerated in the United States. The Hastings trial is undeniably relevant since he was tried after leaving office. However, it shows how this practice can be used for raw and “intemperate” purposes.

There are many differences between Great Britain and the United States on the evolution of the language and process for impeachment. There was great debate over the inclusion of “maladministration” as a basis for impeachment. There was also the debate in the first impeachment over retroactive or post-service impeachments. That is why I have repeatedly said that people on both sides are struggling to deal with this novel impeachment and that many of us continue to struggle with the issue in good faith.

In my 1999 Duke Law Journal article on impeachment, I wrote that “[t]he Senate majority, however, was correct in its view that impeachments historically extended to former officials, such as Warren Hastings.” See Jonathan Turley, Senate Trials and Factional Disputes: Impeachment as a Madisonian Device, 49 Duke Law Journal 1-146 (1999)(emphasis added). Strangely, some have cited that line to show that I have changed my position on the subject. It doesn’t. It indeed was used retroactively in Great Britain as a historical matter, which I have always acknowledged. Yet, there are significant differences in the use of impeachment in both countries. Indeed, the colonial impeachments were strikingly different in many respects. As I noted in the Duke article, “Even if the only penalty is disqualification from future office, the open presentation of the evidence and witnesses represents the very element that was missing in colonial impeachments.”

This has remained an open question and much contested in the United States as I noted in my later North Carolina article.  Jonathan Turley, The    “Executive    Function”    Theory,    the    Hamilton    Affair    and    Other    Constitutional Mythologies, 77 North Carolina Law Review 1791-1866 (1999).  The point of that piece is that impeachment is not limited to violations of an executive function but can involve other violations like perjury.  We are left with the value of a trial for a public judgment on past conduct and the costs of a retroactive trial on the constitutional system. That has remained unresolved. The prior discussion addressed how impeachment serves a type of dialogic role in our society. Such trials can have value as with Trump. However, there are also serious countervailing costs that are equally evident in the case of Trump.

This issue has not been a focus of my past writings – or the writings of most of us who have written on impeachment in prior years. I viewed it as an open question for many, but saw the value in such trials.

The Trump impeachments will force us to address new precedent for its implications of the process used in both impeachments. I have spent considerable time in the last few weeks drilling down on this issue.1  Some have noted my Duke piece recognized the value of impeachment trials beyond removal. That is true. I did state that the Belknap trial and Hastings trials had the value of an airing of the misconduct of ex-officials. Here is the entirely what I said:

  “If impeachment was simply a matter of removal, the argument for jurisdiction in the Belknap case would be easily resolved against hearing the matter. The Senate majority, however, was correct in its view that impeachments historically had extended to former officials, such as Warren Hastings. Impeachment, as demonstrated by Edmund Burke, serves a public value in addressing conduct at odds with core values in a society. At a time of lost confidence in the integrity of the government, the conduct of a former official can demand a political response. This response in the form of an impeachment may be more important than a legal response in the form of a prosecution. Regardless of the outcome, the Belknap trial addressed the underlying conduct and affirmed core principles at a time of diminishing faith in government. Absent such a trial, Belknap’s rush to resign would have succeeded in barring any corrective political action to counter the damage to the system caused by his conduct. Even if the only penalty is disqualification from future office, the open presentation of the evidence and witnesses represents the very element that was missing in colonial impeachments. Such a trial has a political value that runs vertically as a response to the public and horizontally as a deterrent to the executive branch.”

I still believe that such trials can have such a dialogic and public interest value. Thus, my Duke article can be fairly cited for that view to support arguments for retroactive trials. Clearly, these trials mean that impeachment was not considered as a matter solely of removal. The officials were already gone.  It is also unassailable that such retroactive impeachments have occurred historically. Finally, there is no question that an official could bar corrective political action with a resignation. None of that has changed in my view and I have made those points in the current controversy.

My point in these writings was to address the very narrow interpretations of impeachment offered by figures like Laurence Tribe and offer a broader view of the standard. Back then, these scholars voiced a far more restrictive view of impeachment, declaring that lying under oath in the Clinton case would not be an impeachable offense. In the context of a host of impeachment allegations over the last four years, they have espoused a strikingly broader interpretation of the language of Constitution. Such views can change with time.

My view of such questions have continued to evolve over the last 30 years of writings and later serving as lead counsel in an impeachment. Again, I still hold the same views on the history and value of such retroactive trials. However, I believe that the language and implications of such trials outweigh those benefits. Indeed, I have found over these decades that departures from the language of the Constitution have often produced greater dangers and costs. I have become more textualist and formalist in that sense, but I am neither an originalist nor a strict textualist. I have discussed the trend in my writings over the last three decades. See, e.g.,Jonathan Turley, Madisonian Tectonics: How Function Follows Form in Constitutional and Architectural Interpretation, 83 George Washington University Law Review 305 (2015); Jonathan Turley, A Fox In The Hedges: Vermeule’s Optimizing Constitutionalism For A Suboptimal World, 82 University of Chicago Law Review 517 (2015). It does not change my view of the meaning of high crimes or misdemeanors. This is only a question of the jurisdiction of the Senate. If I were to write the Duke piece today, I would still maintain that it shows how impeachment trials serve this dialogic role but that, of the three outlying cases, I agree with the decision in Blount (and the view of roughly half of the Senate in Belknap) that such trials are extraconstitutional. It was historically allowed but I believe that it is not constitutionally sound. That view against retroactive impeachments is strengthened by what we have witnessed in the two Trump impeachments.

As the Supreme Court itself has shown, new cases will often force a reexamination of what were collateral  issues. The important issue is the underlying constitutional interpretative approach and to remain consistent with that approach. For example, while some claimed that I changed my views from the Clinton impeachment, the truth is that my views on impeachment have changed little in 30 years. Indeed, most simply note that I favored impeachment with Clinton and opposed it with Trump – which reflects the differences in the underlying allegations and records, not my views on impeachment. In the Clinton impeachment, I stated that a president need not commit a crime to be impeached but that Congress has historically looked to the criminal code to weigh articles of impeachment. In the Clinton impeachment, Democrats accepted (as ultimately did a federal court) that Clinton committed perjury – a clear felony – for lying under oath. My view was that it was clearly impeachable conduct and that it did not matter the subject matter of the perjury.

In the Trump impeachment, I did not believe that there was a clear criminal act. Nevertheless, I said he could be impeached. In my written and oral testimony, I opposed the much discussed articles of impeachment on bribery, extortion, campaign finance and obstruction of justice. While my fellow witnesses made good-faith arguments for those articles, my testimony primarily focused on the legal and constitutional flaws in claiming those criminal acts. However, I said that the Committee could legitimately impeach on claims of obstruction of Congress and abuse of power.  Indeed, Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler noted at the end of the impeachment hearing that I endorsed the basis of the two articles, if proven. I also expressly rejected the theory of impeachment put forward by the White House legal team.  Ultimately, the House did impeach on the two articles that I said could be legitimate, if proven.

My disagreement with the House was ultimately not on the basis of the two articles but the failure to create a sufficient record. The House leadership said that the impeachment had to be completed by the end of December – the shortest period of a presidential impeachment. I encouraged further hearings for a few more weeks to secure the testimony of key witnesses or court orders in favor of the House. I stated that this record would guarantee failure and that the Senate would not call these key witnesses (even though I supported the House later in that demand before the Senate). Ultimately, the House pushed through the vote and then waited for weeks to submit the articles to the Senate. As expected, the witnesses were not called and the President was acquitted.

Such academic points may seem nuanced and immaterial in today’s caustic and raging debate.  The same is true on retroactive impeachments.  My past writings recognized that such trials can have a dialogic value as shown in these three trials. I still believe that, but I have evolved in my view of the constitutional language and the ultimate logic of retroactive impeachments over the years. We must now deal with the problem directly with regard to the trial of an ex-president. We must all now balance the merits of the history, language, and logic of retroactive impeachments. While still recognizing that this is a good-faith debate, I believe that such a balancing should lead to a rejection of the practice like other historical practices from Great Britain in cases like that of Warren Hastings.

Update:

After this posting was made, an article appeared on Law & Crime on my Duke piece. I did not see the email inquiry from the site, but it did link to this posting on the evolution of my views on retroactive trials. Accordingly, I thought that I should respond here. Some of this may be a redundant from what I wrote earlier.

The article quotes a posting from University of Texas Law Professor Steve Vladeck challenging my current position as conflicting my position from over 20 years ago. While I have been highly critical of Vladeck’s positions in the past on his own commentary on criminal and impeachment issues, I do not fault the raising of the excerpt from the Duke article as recognizing the benefits of such retroactive trials. As I stated earlier, I still support most of what was said in the excerpt.

My earlier discussion noted that I have always maintained that there are good-faith arguments for such retroactive trials, including the desire to express judgment on wrongdoing and the allowance for disqualification from future office. I have continued to cite those arguments in my recent commentary.  Moreover, the Duke piece pointed out that impeachment in cases like Hastings, Blount, and Belknap show a historical view that impeachment is not just about removal. That is obvious since there was no removal at issue.  I have written about all three cases extensively in the current impeachment debate. In the Duke article, I was explaining how such trials clearly had meaning and value beyond the sole issue of removal.

To repeat my earlier writings, I still see the value in such trials, but I now have a stronger view of the countervailing constitutional language and logic.  I believe that Trump could prevail in challenging a disqualification. My columns focused on the strategic as well as the constitutional basis for Trump to forgo the trial and rely on this threshold challenge.

As I noted earlier, there was a shift on the ultimate question of retroactive trials after decades of writing and practicing in the area of impeachment. What is curious is that North Carolina Law Professor Carissa Byrne Hessick called such an intellectual evolution as a type of ethical violation, stating that “we should also see this as a serious breach of academic ethics and professionalism. Turley’s prominence in public discourse relies, in part, on his position as a professor—that status carries with it a claim to expertise on legal matters. Apparently his expertise led him to conclude the exact opposite of what he is claiming now on an issue of great importance.” According to Professor Hessick, an academic whose views evolve over decades is somehow unethical. That would be a damning principle not just for academics but most judges and justices.

I have discussed my prior work but it is not always part of columns. They are limited in space and focus on the immediate legal question like the defense options for President Trump. Indeed, I often have to add more background to my columns on my blog. I did so on the recent columns on impeachment while repeatedly saying there are good-faith arguments in favor of such trials. The fact that my views have evolved in three decades is hardly surprising. My position on retroactive trials is consistent with long-standing views of constitutional interpretation.

Vladeck also objected that “The Duke article wasn’t just about Hastings; it was also about Blount and Belknap. Not only did @JonathanTurley defend the validity of *both* post-resignation impeachments; he spent pages explaining why they were also a good idea.”

That objection is bizarre. I did not claim that the issue was solely about Hastings. My quoted material referred to Hastings as well as Blount and Belknap. I have discussed all three cases as part of the historical record where removal was not viewed as the sole purpose of the impeachment.  In my Duke piece, I explained why these trials were still viewed as justified even though removal was not an option. Yet, Vladeck also objected that “Not only did @JonathanTurley defend the validity of *both* post-resignation impeachments; he spent pages explaining why they were also a good idea.” Once again, I discussed the earlier piece precisely on that point. I still view the cases as showing how impeachment trials can have meaning beyond the sole value of removal. That is also why I stated in the Clinton and Trump impeachment (and recently in the second Trump impeachment) that I believe the House should impeach a president up to the last day in office if it believes that he committed a high crime and misdemeanor. I believe the Senate can remove a president up to the last day for the same reason. These trials play an important role in renouncing abusive or corrupt practices. I would still reject a snap impeachment but, if they have hold a hearing and create a record for the Senate, the value of such impeachments go to the condemnation of conduct.

I have no problem in saying that my views on retroactive trials have evolved over not just years but decades. Indeed, I said that earlier. It would be strange that my view on this insular issue remained unchanged as my overall constitutional interpretative views have changed over the decades. The retroactive trials were not the focus of this or the other academic pieces. However, I did view the trials as evidence of the broader point that impeachment trials play a dialogic role. I still do. Vladeck chided that “It would be one thing if he said “yes, I said that, but I was wrong — and here’s why.” Yet, I do not believe I was wrong on what was said on the history and the benefits of these trials. I have explained how my views have changed over 30 years on the constitutional language and the dangers of retroactive trials. I have fully explained why such trials can be challenged as running counter to the constitutional language and logic. Thus, I do not believe that I was wrong in recognizing the value of such trials in allowing public judgment on wrongful acts.

In truth, the only part of those lines that I would change is the reference to the Senate being correct in holding the Belknap trial and state that I agree with the decision in Blount (and roughly half of the Senate in Belknap). It was correct that “historically” some impeachments have gone beyond removal and allowed for retroactive trials. However, I think that the use of a retroactive trial was a mistake because I now view the balance of these benefits and the countervailing costs differently. That is why I said that I would leave most of the language but add that I do not view such trials as constitutionally sound. That view is stronger today in light of both my views of constitutional interpretation as well as misgivings over the Trump impeachments.

Clearly, that will not satisfy some but there is nothing untoward or even uncommon in such an evolution of academic views.

Footnote 1: Update- Recently it was claimed that the above reference to “drilling down” on the issues meant that I favored the broader interpretation on retroactive trials until just a few weeks ago. That is not true. Since that article refers to this posting, I decided to just add this footnote. I stated that I spent a great deal of time recently drilling down on this issue in light of the two Trump impeachments and the implications of a retroactive trial. I have stated that the current controversy reaffirms my prior constitutional interpretative views and reinforces objections to retroactive trials. However, I did not change my interpretative view in the last few weeks

56 thoughts on “Warren Hastings and the Historical Basis for Retroactive Impeachments [Updated]”

  1. If Roberts refuses to preside over the trial of an ex-President as beyond the Chief Justice’s jurisdiction under the Constitution — as he should — then that will render the “impeachment” trial not an “impeachment” trial at all.

    That doesn’t follow. It follows that it wouldn’t be an impeachment trial of *the President*.

  2. Trump put this out on the internet this morning:. “Pepsi Cola hits the spot. Especially when you’re on the pot. Push the button, pull the chain. Out comes a little brown chichi train!

  3. I believe that the best thing that could happen for President Trump after his impeachment is a trial in the Senate. He clearly did not call for violence or anything treasonous on that day in DC, his words and actions will establish that. When asked, many people calling for President Trump’s impeachment over the DC protests can’t quote the exact words that President Trump spoke that were so inflammatory as to warrant impeachment. Why? Because they do not exist. People believe such words were spoken because the talking heads told them so. Just like the phony gold-star family scandal. There was nothing insulting said about that family and only praise for the fallen soldier. To President Trump’s benefit, not only would a trial in the Senate expose the lie regarding his words that day, it would allow him to present evidence of voter fraud in the 2020 presidential election. Some critics claim that his “false” statements regarding a fixed, fraudulent election are inflammatory even absent a call to illegal action, and therefore warrant impeachment. But, if those same claims are proven true in a trial setting, that there was significant fraud in the presidential election, then how can a statement of truth be impeachable? It can’t, at least not to impeach HIM. I hope there is a trial in the Senate and that evidence is presented on President Trump’s behalf regarding his words in DC and the integrity of the 2020 presidential election. I would also hope that shortly after President Trump is exhonerated in the Senate, that there would be two, possibly three more impeachments, trials, and subsequent removals from office…

  4. Look bleach-brain – don’t try too hard. Following your president’s advice has already caused much damage as is, why keep pressing on?

    1. From the linked article…..”If Roberts refuses to preside over the trial of an ex-President as beyond the Chief Justice’s jurisdiction under the Constitution — as he should — then that will render the “impeachment” trial not an “impeachment” trial at all.”

      Summed up….Where does the Senate get the authority to put on Trial IN the Senate a Private Citizen?

      If the the Articles of Impeachment are not presented to the Senate in time for the Senate to conduct a Trial based upon those Articles…..and the Impeached President leaves Office….under what authority can the Senate “Remove” a former President from Office?

      That is the issue….the Trial is to determine whether the President is removed upon Convictiion…..or not. Then the Senate upon Conviction must take a separate action to determine any additional penalties for that Convictionl

      Folks….no matter how badly the Democrats want to spin this gross error in judgement they have committed….the Constitution is clear…..the Senate has no jurisdiction over a former President who is no longer in Office.

      An analogy is simple as looking at Statute of Limitations on Crimes…..or the division between State and Federal prosecutions based upon what law is broken by the Defendant….State Courts do not try Federal Cases.

      All this political kabuki theater is about is some vain hope by the Democrats to prevent Trump from running again in 2024…..and nothing else.

  5. “THE”

    “THE PRESIDENT”

    “SHALL BE REMOVED FROM OFFICE”
    _______________________________

    The Framers wrote the “manifest tenor” of the Constitution in clear English.

    If a concept or rule is not in the Constitution, it was omitted and, thereby, excluded, and no individual has any power to amend the Constitution.

    “THE PRESIDENT”

    “SHALL BE REMOVED FROM OFFICE”

    Donald Trump will definitively and irrefutably NOT be “THE PRESIDENT” after January 20, 2020.

    Donald Trump will not be in office after January 20, 2020, and it will not be possible to “REMOVE” him from an office his is not in.
    _____________________________________________________________________________________________________

    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.

  6. Retrospective impeachments make more sense when they are an alternative form of criminal trial, with criminal penalties, as I believe they were at the time of the Hastings impeachment. Whether a person holds office or not is irrelevant to a criminal proceeding. The US Constitution makes clear, however, that impeachment in the US cannot involve criminal penalties, though an official once removed from office through impeachment may later be criminally tried. Once it is clear that impeachment is not itself a criminal process that can lead to criminal penalties, the purpose of impeachment is best viewed as removal from office, with disqualification from further office as a possible additional penalty following conviction and removal.

  7. “AND not OR”

    The accused party must be removed and disqualified, from which judgement shall not extend further.

    The Framers were competent and capable of precisely and accurately writing and legislating fundamental law.

    They wrote “and” NOT “or” and they meant it.

    They required removal “AND” disqualification, they did not present OPTIONS through the use of “OR” between the two.

    The case must include removal AND disqualification as the two are joint, combined and in conjunction, not several and separate.

    Judgement…shall not extend further than to removal from office “AND” disqualification to hold and enjoy any office of honor, trust of profit under the United States:…

    The article does not state, imply or intend “OR.”

    The article deliberately omits and, thereby, excludes “OR.”
    ______________________________________________

    Article 1, Section 3, Clause 7

    Judgment in cases of impeachment shall not extend further than to removal from office, and disqualification to hold and enjoy any office of honor, trust or profit under the United States: but the party convicted shall nevertheless be liable and subject to indictment, trial, judgment and punishment, according to law.

      1. Trump’s been hoaxed by the counters.
        ______________________________

        “It is enough that the people know there was an election. The people who cast the votes decide nothing. The people who count the votes decide everything.”

        – Joseph Stalin

  8. THE MOSCOW TRIALS LED TO THE EXECUTION OF MANY OF THE DEFENDANTS

    Moscow Trials

    The Moscow Trials were a series of show trials held in the Soviet Union at the instigation of Joseph Stalin between 1936 and 1938 against Trotskyists and members of Right Opposition of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. There were three Moscow Trials, including:

    the Case of the Trotskyite-Zinovievite Terrorist Center (Zinoviev-Kamenev Trial, or the “Trial of the Sixteen;” 1936);
    the Case of the Anti-Soviet Trotskyist Center (Pyatakov-Radek Trial; 1937); and
    the Case of the Anti-Soviet “Bloc of Rights and Trotskyites” (Bukharin-Rykov Trial, or “Trial of the Twenty-One;” 1938).

    The defendants of these were Old Bolshevik party leaders and top officials of the Soviet secret police. Most defendants were charged under Article 58 of the RSFSR Penal Code with conspiring with the Western powers to assassinate Stalin and other Soviet leaders, dismember the Soviet Union, and restore capitalism.

    The Moscow Trials led to the execution of many of the defendants. They are generally seen as part of Stalin’s Great Purge, an attempt to rid the party of current or prior oppositionists, especially but not exclusively Trotskyists, and any leading Bolshevik cadre from the time of the Russian Revolution or earlier, who might even potentially become a figurehead for the growing discontent in the Soviet populace resulting from Stalin’s mismanagement of the economy…

    – Wiki
    _____

    Show Trial

    A show trial is a public trial in which the judicial authorities have already determined the guilt, and/or innocence, of the defendant. The actual trial has as its only goal the presentation of both the accusation and the verdict to the public so they will serve as both an impressive example and a warning to other would-be dissidents or transgressors.[2] Show trials tend to be retributive rather than corrective and they are also conducted for propagandistic purposes.[3] The term was first recorded in 1928.[4]

    – Wiki

  9. I do not want to have Congress tied up with more Trump stuff. We need to address crucial issues like covid. I can’t stand looking at Trump photos or videos.

  10. The only practical meaning other than cheap revenge reason is to keep someone from a future attempt. Silly reason. Having not read the news yesterday or this morning the only reason for President Truimp not to become Citizen Trump is No Reason. thus there is no reason not to take a quick resignation and a federal pardon. Except to make Comrade Pelosi happy. Meaning even more reason to take that route.

    The President did the job we hired him to do and then some. Expose and damage the socialist party with Clinton as a prime target, DNC Second and RINOS third. He did that and then some successfully concluding the ill ventured Obama War AS a complete outsider. Very successful. He leaves with four y ears of military experience while successor is still a five times draft dodger. with no experience and his successor is a zero
    experienced nothing.

    We of the Constitutional Centrists wanted the left exposed and they not only were but did much of it themselves. Garden Variety Socialists and no friend of Our Constitutional Government.

    Now they want us to be America United and my answer is I already have a country and it doesn’t include some half baked name dreamed up by the socialist party . My allegiance remains to my country. just as it states in my oath of office. Next war let them pick up a rifle and go fight it and quit
    killing off our young people.

    Question. Since the left has a bad habit of destroying voting documents primarily ballots and Ballots with federal level at the top are considered Federal Documents and since it’s illegal to destroy them can the left prove they have winner? No. They can’t they destroyed the evidence.

    Seig Heil your way out of that Comrade Biden.

    1. Donald ShitForBrains has cost the Republican Party the Senate, the House, and now the Presidency.
      Then, as an encore, he plunges the Republicans into a civil war for the soul of their Party.

      Trump is the best thing for the Democrats since FDR.

  11. The rehearsal for the inauguration was disrupted or cancelled because of a fire in a homeless camp some distance away.

    The evil omens keep accumulating.

  12. While still recognizing that this is a good-faith debate, I believe that such a balancing should lead to a rejection of the practice like other historical practices from Great Britain in cases like that of Warren Hastings.

    Well done professor. Even though you softly landed on rejecting retroactive impeachments, you’ve managed to cover and support every angle of this debate. You describe this as a good faith debate, but from the cheap seats, there does not appear to be anything good about it. It looks more like a different version of The Longest Yard where the refs don’t allow the prisoners to use the same tactics as the guards and once the game is over, they still shoot Paul Crew. So while politicians, academics and talking heads in the media will word salad their best arguments for or against, there remains a clear divide within the general population on what blindfolded justice is supposed to look like.

    Perhaps one day you will use your significant legal expertise and explain to us non-lawyers how presidential candidates can pay for foreign spies and use foreign disinformation (dossier), media leaks, high level politically-weaponiized CIA/FBI/DOj officials in an attempt to defeat the opposing candidate, lose, then fabricate a collusion story, run a bogus 3 year investigation, run a bogus QPQ impeachment and not ever indict, let alone prosecute documented crimes against those that perpetrated this fraud on the American people. Because if that account is never reconciled with the base that have supported this president, the words good faith, free and fair and justice have absolutely no meaning.

  13. Two things. First the question of how does a retroactive impeachment/conviction benefit the body politic? This is purely political – which goes along with Jerry Ford’s statement that impeachment is “whatever a majority of the House of Representatives considers them to be at a moment in history.” Here, it appears to do nothing more than to create a political martyr and further divide the populace.

    Second, these quotes from Burke (“he “captain-general of iniquity” and a “spider of Hell.” He later added the label of a “ravenous vulture devouring the carcasses of the dead.’) and I hope to use them at some future date

    1. Me, too. I especially liked “spider from hell.” “Troll” is becoming a cliche. We need new ammunition.

    2. Trump is NO martyr–political or otherwise. All Turley’s piece is attempting to do is explain away the inconsistencies between his prior positions on impeachment and his current inconsistent effort to argue that Trump shouldn’t be impeached. According to Turley, it’s OK to impeach Bill Clinton for lying about oral sex with an intern (something that had no serious implications for national security or American values, and which WAS purely political) but not OK to impeach a chronic, habitual liar who fomented an insurrection that left 5 people dead because he couldn’t handle the fact that the American people rejected him. Turley’s status as a paid hack is becoming clearer.

      The real value of impeachment now is to stop that fat slob from ever holding office again, and the urgent reason it must be done is because neither he, nor his Republican and media enablers, will admit that Trump is lying when he claims the election was stolen from him. And, on this note, have you Trump disciples noticed that Fox no longer says that Trump really won by a landslide? Wanna know why? Because Trump’s dim bulb disciples believe his lies and no quantum of evidence, certifications, recounts, re-recounts, signature matches or anything else will ever convince them otherwise. Only the truth from their beloved leader would work, and his malignant narcissism prevents him from telling this truth. The immoral Republicans in Congress know better but they also see just how devoted the Trump Dumbasses are, and they want to take advantage of this misguided devotion for their own political ambitions. Also, because this lie got the dim bulbs to storm the Capitol, steal lap tops (including Pelosi’s, which, according to reports, someone is trying to sell to Russia), smear feces and spread urine, deface monuments and assault police offices, causing 5 people to die. Fox, et al, are now on notice of the danger this lie causes, and if there is any more violence or death, they could possibly be held liable. They could plausibly argue that repeating the “I won by a landslide” Trump lie couldn’t foreseeably lead to violence and death before January 6. They can’t any more. Fox hosts have been told they will be fired if they say this again.

      So now, we need “healing”. There can be no “healing” until Trump or at least his media and Republican Congressional enablers, admit that the election was fair and that Trump lost. That’s the only way Americans can be reunited. Until then, the fury of theTrump Dumbasses will continue to simmer while they plot on how to “take back their country”. That is Trump’s legacy–lies, violence, dissention, insurrection. He must be prevented from any opportunity to ever again hold political office.

      1. You lost the debate when you minimized Clinton’s felony perjury (the highest law enforcement person in the country) as “lying” about sex, and (you lying) saying it’s harmless. What a tired old DEEMONKRAP liar you are. It’s as harmless as police men puling over women and demanding sex or to be arrested .

  14. Historian/scholars and theologians do the same thing. Instead of taking something at face value, they analyze it to the point of confusion. The Constitution is clear – impeachment of government officials is limited to removal from office. The Senate has no authority to hold a trial after the person is out of office. For that matter, impeachment is the only matter the Senate has the authority to try. Trials are by the Judicial System. Let the DOJ investigate and determine if President Trump broke any laws and if so, charge him and try him in the courts. There is a reason Congress is the LEGISLATIVE branch. Their SOLE role is legislation. They have no enforcement authority. This whole issue is purely political, and that’s the problem. Instead of the Constitution, the governing authorities are the political parties and as long as we have them, the country is in danger.

    1. Let the DOJ investigate and determine if President Trump broke any laws and if so, charge him and try him in the courts.

      He’ll get the three-felonies-a-day treatment from courts in New York and Washington, just like Conrad Black. And the partisan Democrats who post here will be just fine with that. (Democratic pols have to do something really crude like have a chest freezer full of bribe money in their basement before the US Attorney’s office take an interest).

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