This morning, I will testify in the first hearing of the impeachment inquiry of President Joseph Biden. The hearing of the Committee on Oversight and Accountability will start at 10am in Room 2154 of the Rayburn House Office Building. My written testimony is below.
As a law professor, there is no more solemn responsibility than advising the House in an impeachment. I come to this question as someone who has served both as lead counsel in the last judicial impeachment trial in the United States Senate and testified in two prior presidential impeachments.
Roughly, twenty-five years ago, I appeared before Congress as an expert witness in the impeachment of former president William Jefferson Clinton. Four years ago, I appeared as an expert witness in the only impeachment hearing held in the first impeachment of former president Donald J. Trump.
In the second impeachment just roughly three years ago, there was no hearing at all.
The shortening intervals between impeachments is alarming and calls for circumspection and caution on both sides.
My testimony addresses the historical baseline of past inquiries and what I consider to be “best practices” in the investigation of a sitting president. Some of those practices and presumptions work to the benefit of the President. That is as it should be. A presidential impeachment should not be a close question or a rush to judgment.
Finally, I encourage members to consider the common article of faith in this constitutional process and to rise above the petty and personal attacks that characterize these times:
“There are constitutional moments that demand the best from each of us in transcending the passions and politics of time. These are moments when people of good faith can bring a solemnity and clarity to a national debate. We are living an age of rage where ad hominem attacks have replaced civil discourse. This toxic environment starts here with how members treat different views of our constitutional history and standards. As Justice Louis Brandeis stated “Our government is the potent, the omnipresent teacher. For good or for ill it teaches the whole people by example.”
While Brandeis was speaking of criminal conduct, it is equally true of our public discourse. The license that some feel to engage in hateful rhetoric and personal attacks are the result of how members treat this moment. We can discuss these issues as Americans who may disagree but remain bound by a common faith in our constitutional system. We can disagree, but we need not hate each other. If we want to combat the deterioration of political discourse in our society, it begins here and now as we discuss these issues. Members can choose to be either potent teachers for civil discourse or political rage. I hope that this testimony will assist the Committee in offering the public an array of different viewpoints on how an impeachment inquiry should ideally progress under Article I.”