New Book Reveals Democratic Decision to Abandon Due Process and Historical Precedent to Impeach Trump

Below is today’s column in on the new disclosures in a new book on the Trump impeachment. The authors allege that House Judiciary Committee Chair Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., and his staff raised virtually the same procedural objections that I made in my testimony about the House abandoning both historical precedent and due process guarantees. The book directly contradicts public statements made by Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff.

Here is the column:

“They’re going to argue we don’t have due process for Trump. Why make that argument real?” Those words from House Judiciary Committee Chair Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y.,  stand out in the shocking disclosures in the recently released book, “Unchecked: The Untold Story Behind Congress’s Botched Impeachments of Donald Trump,” Politico Playbook co-author Rachael Bade and Washington Post reporter Karoun Demirjian recount how House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff and Speaker Nancy Pelosi overrode objections from Nadler that the lack of witness testimony was a denial of due process for then President Donald Trump. Nadler reportedly put it plainly and correctly: “It’s unfair, and it’s unprecedented, and it’s unconstitutional.”

It was a strikingly familiar objection.  I testified at the first Trump impeachment before Nadler and criticized the lack of any factual witnesses or Judiciary Committee hearings supporting the articles of impeachment. The book details a position of the House Judiciary that is strikingly similar to my own testimony.

The book, however, has not brought a sense of vindication as much as frustration. Nadler publicly toed the line with Pelosi to support a process that he reportedly viewed as abusive and “unconstitutional” even as some of us were set upon by a legion of irate pundits. Worse yet, the book indicates that the bar on witnesses was not compelled by the schedule, as claimed by Pelosi and Schiff, but raw politics.  It was, I wrote, a decision to follow the rule of Franz Kafka’s character that “my guiding principle is this: Guilt is never to be doubted.”

On the second impeachment, they went one better. They jettisoned any witnesses (including legal experts) in what I called a “snap impeachment.”

During the impeachments, I suggested that the reason was not any limitation of time but tactical advantage. In both rushed impeachments, Pelosi then held back the articles of impeachment before sending them to the Senate – destroying even the pretense of exigency as the reason for abandoning due process.

The book appears to confirm the Kafkaesque logic. It states that neither Pelosi nor Schiff wanted to risk a witness or member going off script by allowing true due process. When Nadler raised historical and constitutional objections, Schiff reportedly barked back that he needed to change “his tone” and complained “you’re putting us in a box.”  That box is an effort to guarantee fairness and Nadler reportedly and correctly observed that “if we’re going to impeach, we need to show the country that we gave the president ample opportunity to defend himself.”

In my testimony in the only hearing held by the Judiciary Committee (over the two impeachments), I objected that “this is wrong. It is not wrong because President Trump is right…No, it is wrong because this is not how an American president should be impeached.”

I relied primarily on the Nixon and Clinton cases to show how far the House was outside any historical navigational beacons. It turns out Nadler and his staff reached the same conclusion and cautioned Schiff and Pelosi to “stick close to the Nixon and Clinton cases.” They refused.

Dan Goldman, Schiff’s lead counsel and the Democratic nominee to represent New York’s 10th District in the House, scoffed and mocked Nadler: “Jerry Nadler? With him, everything is negotiable.” When Nadler’s team argued for an approach (as I did) “more like Nixon,” Schiff’s team reportedly dismissed due process and said, “F— Donald Trump.”

People can disagree on the merits of the impeachments, but both impeachments were an abusive use of the Article I authority in the denial of any substantive hearings before the Judiciary Committee. While it was constitutional in the sense that there is no required process, it was wrong from both a historical and procedural perspective.  Of course, the public was not allowed to either hear from witnesses or know that even Democrats like the Judiciary Chair objected on these same grounds.

Indeed, when the House elected to pursue the January 6th investigation, they followed the same playbook with Schiff as a member.  Traditionally, each party is allowed to pick its own members on such committees. However, Pelosi rejected two of the Republican members and the rest of the party (except for outgoing Reps. Lynne Cheney and Adam Kinzinger) boycotted the hearings. The result was a one-sided production without a hint of fairness or balance in exploring possible defenses or counterarguments.

What is most sad about this account is that, for a critical moment, Nadler rose to the occasion. He defended not just the historical authority of his committee but the constitutional norm, even for a president despised by Democrats. That twilight moment of clarity was soon lost. The book recounts how Nadler made an “effort to get back into Pelosi’s good graces.” When I testified, there was not a hint of concern or dissent. Nadler and the Democrats scoffed at the notion that the impeachment departed from core historical precedent or legal protections.

They had, as Nadler predicted, made the due process arguments “real,” but no one cared. To paraphrase Goodman’s reported observation, in Washington, “everything is negotiable.”


120 thoughts on “New Book Reveals Democratic Decision to Abandon Due Process and Historical Precedent to Impeach Trump”

  1. Wow. That Jerry Frickin’ Nadler comes off as the voice of reason shows how far off the rails Democrats have fallen. Unreal.

  2. Biden’s DoJ swatted a man for praying at an abortion clinic. His Crime? Defending his 12 year old son from a pro abortionist threatening language. Yes contact was made, but the DA found no evidence a crime was committed.
    But Biden sent his Gestapo, more than Twenty fully armed soldiers in tactical gear, on an early morning raid, to serve an arrest warrant on a family with 7 childred in the house.

    I believe I have heard there has been a second family attacked the same way.

    Garland is exactly the scum Democrats try to put on SCOTUS

  3. Thank you, Professor Turley, for an inside look at yet another corrupt government process, corrupted congressional scheme, and malicious group of out-of-control partisan politicians. .

  4. This describes today’s Democratic Party to a tee: elitist, double standard imposing, dishonesty exceeding that of the other major party, and lack of respect for any process / procedure / convention unless it works at that moment towards getting the Democrats what they want.

  5. Pelosi and Schiff are the two most dangerous Democrats in Congress, and the people who voted for them should hang their heads in shame. Nadler is no better, because he knew, and was convinced, that the proceedings were unconstitutional, but he kow-towed to the authoritarians and betrayed both himself and the country. Today’s Democratic party is a disgrace, but because the corrupt media cover for them, Democrats get away with their crimes, both legal and social. A nation cannot survive for long when it’s rotting from within. Rome proved that over 2000 years ago. We haven’t learned much since then. The Democrats are the rot, and their ignorant voters will bring down this country.

  6. You are way too nice, Mr. Turley. .. but I am going to borrow your motto ‘Res ipsa loquitur’ (The thing itself speaks) as many of my arguments these days seem to boil down to ‘Who Do You Believe’.

    Unfortunately, I don’t believe anybody nowadays The very ‘crown jewels’ of ultra-secret (TSA/SCIF/EYES ONLY) National Security information reveled by cousin Ed Snowden, e.g., have been deemed by courts of law (such as they are) as ‘illegal’ and ‘unconstitutional’. .. notwithstanding Laurance Tribe and his ilk, that the courts have no jurisdiction at all?

    That’s why I continue to believe very few things/actions by the U.S. government should be secret. Especially things like ‘torture, rendition, assassination, regime change, wars, rumors of war etc., etc. That includes ‘sources and methods’.

    I only know where the buck stops. If president Trump ‘de’classified the classified information @ Mar Lago .. . lets take a gander, and you be the judge.

    *In the case of the first (1st.) impeachment they impeached the wrong guy (imho). And look where we are now [in Ukraine]. Do you know where the Laptop is, or not?

  7. It states that neither Pelosi nor Schiff wanted to risk a witness or member going off script by allowing true due process

    Look what that has created.

    The Jan 6 sham
    The are literally reading from a script. thousands of hours of sworn testimony will never be public. Yet, for some reason, the voters putting Dems in office believe they are seeing the truth. With all that, the sham producers are still forced to edit, cut and edit selected bites to change their meaning.

  8. Here’s some due process for you: a new Republican Reform president should appoint twenty Special Prosecutors, and go after every politician, FBI leader, and grifter in government.
    But in reality, we are another Gulliver, tied down by the Lilliputians “Lawyers for Political Outcomes”. Our only hope is that China says nice things over our grave.

  9. “F…. Donald Trump” And look where we are:
    On the verge of a Biden “Hat Truck: Gutted our energy advantage, gutted our economy, and now heading for #3: sleepwalking into a nuclear throw down with Bad Vlad Putin”

  10. Due process and Democrats. Of late (for the past 30+ years) those 3 words have not gone together. Stupid and Rino’s are 2 words that do go together. Economics and Democrats- also 2 words that do not go together.
    Learning from their mistakes- a sentence that Republicans seldom learned until recently although Mitch McConnell is in the remedial or very slow class. The Democratic Party of today is certainly not the Democratic Party of JFK. That was why I was a Democrat when I turned 18 in 1966 in Georgia and then left the Democrats forever in the 1980’s.
    Their is a poison in Washington D.C. The cost to remove it will be almost prohibitive.

  11. Sadly, if this continues, who is safe from the overreach of government? The public is so tired of this one-sided and apparently intentional hate game. The objective seems to be — put fear into people, reduce them to silence and they will become pliable victims. This will not last forever. The irony of this Trump hate will make Trump live (whatever people think of him now) forever in the history books while Biden, Hillary and the current administration will become footnotes to history and their overreach will shadow any positive good deeds they might have contributed. Truth has a way of overtaking lies and one day, whenever it is, this Trump madness will end and our country will move on. It will take wise leaders to correct these last 20 years of extreme politics so our country can take back it place on the world stage. We can only hope!

  12. I think there’s a need for deeper thinking about this. The people generally like and want divided government. Study after study seems to back this up and at least one full-length book on the subject was written some years ago by a GMU professor whose name escapes me. One of the unintended consequences of divided government is the inability of the Congress to have their criminal referrals prosecuted by the Executive Branch when it is on the opposite side of the political spectrum. We saw this with the Contempt of Congress charge against Eric Holder and scores of other clear law violations that were not prosecuted because the referral was from those on the side opposite that that with the power to prosecute. When the sides are aligned, we have another problem, namely, only one party’s miscreants are prosecuted and mostly for things that would never be prosecuted otherwise. The only antidote for this that I see is to employ honest and ethical people to important positions but that, too, is difficult because the people making the selections and appointing others to important positions are themselves beneficiaries of an inherently corrupt system they want to sustain for their own self-interest. Do you think the founders knew all this and were clever enough to give us a government too slow and too inept to ever tyrannize us? 🙂

  13. Trump has had more “due” process that any of the rest of us could ever hope for. I realize there are people who feel Trump should be immune not just from prosecution but even from scrutiny. That isn’t the way the rule of law works. If any of the rest of us had engaged in one tenth of the behavior he has we would have been in jail a long time ago.

    1. And yet he is not. What’s your theory as to why? Is that because Trump is a brilliant tactician always saying this side of the line? Or is it because Trump hires only the greatest lawyers of the current generation? Or is it because the DoJ and FBI are bending over backwards not to prosecute Trump? What’s your theory?

      1. That’s an excellent point…after being investigated for more than six years and every Leftist being convinced Trump has committed multiple federal crimes; in all candor, what is DOJ waiting for after all this time has passed? If DOJ says they have the evidence Trump committed espionage and treason, then charge him TODAY and be done with it. If not today, then perhaps it’s time to stop whipping and dismount that poor dead horse being ridden.

  14. I have seen Congress have witness hearings in recent years. The Congressmen give speeches and do not really allow witnesses to answer questions. The Jim Jordans and Matt Gaetz types will ask all kinds of questions “what about Hunter Biden?” and yell “witchhunt, witch-hunt, witch-hunt.” Every Trump-affiliated potential witness will avoid the subpoena and hold it up in court for months. Every witness for the prosecution will be getting death threats and be hounded from their homes. Trump will only speak through social media and never under oath.

    We have seen how worthless and muddled Republicans in Congress recently have made any witness testimony. They run interference for Trump and have no interest in the truth.

    1. Not You are in a big tight knot and blinded by your biases. Coming soon, and this is also for the 1-6-2021 protesters who have been rolled over (denied) their entitled due process by having been logged-detained in prison for twenty something months. We all must follow our Founding Father and third President Thomas Jefferson: “When injustice becomes law, resistance becomes duty.” Yes, it’s coming. Un-civil WII.

  15. Politico Playbook co-author Rachael Bade and Washington Post reporter Karoun Demirjian recount how House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff and Speaker Nancy Pelosi overrode objections from Nadler that the lack of witness testimony was a denial of due process for then President Donald Trump. He put it plainly and correctly: “It’s unfair, and it’s unprecedented, and it’s unconstitutional.”
    And the old toad did it anyway. It’s criminal malfeasance in office which, of course, is the Dims modus operandi.

  16. John F. Kennedy authored a great book called “Profiles in Courage” in 1956 that told stories of bravery and patriotism by some U.S. Senators. Perhaps somewone should publish a followup book now, some 66 years later, on Huse members. The title could be “Profiles in Putty”! Pelosi, Nadler, and Schiff could be immortalized.

  17. Nadler was ALMOST the good guy in this story.
    He made an attempt, but the juggernaut of Trump Derangement rolled right over him and forced him to get in line and play ball.

  18. Why does any of this surprise anyone at this point. To trust a political party whose modi operandi are, “the ends justify the means” to ever do the honorable, correct, and legal thing is a foolish, if not potentially lethal, threat to our constitution and the health of our nation.

  19. Foretaste of what Conservatives will experience if the lefties continue in power.

    Just look at the 1/6 trials.

    The DOJ, the FBI, regulators.

    Up to us.

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Res ipsa loquitur – The thing itself speaks
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