Turley Testifies at Biden Impeachment Hearing

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.”

Turley.Testimony.Biden Inquiry

220 thoughts on “Turley Testifies at Biden Impeachment Hearing”

  1. “Jon, . . .”

    The John Fetterman, nihilistic style of addressing a university professor and Constitutional scholar.

  2. I’ve heard some claim that “influence peddling is not bribery” but if you are receiving payment in exchange for taking an official position and changing government policies that is exactly what bribery is. Bribery is one of the actual reasons called out in the Constitution for impeaching.

    Today is not an impeachment but an inquiry as to whether or not there are grounds for impeachment. So when you have allegations and lots of evidence should that not justify inquiring as to the validity of that evidence and whether or not additional evidence such as bank records (which were not provided to the government) either prove or disprove such allegations.

    1. “Receiving payment in exchange for taking an official position and changing government policies” is indeed “exactly what bribery is”. But it’s not what influence peddling is.

      If all Hunter Biden was doing was peddling his own influence on his father, receiving payment in return for lobbying his father to take an official position or to change government policies, then it’s not only not a crime, it can’t be a crime, because lobbying is one of the rights explicitly protected by the first amendment.

      But I can’t believe that’s what he was doing. Nobody would pay him the kind of money he was getting just for lobbying. Rather, I believe those payments were not buying Hunter’s influence but Joe’s favors. The money was intended for Joe, not for Hunter; he was merely the bag man. And that is bribery.

      Hence his complaint to his daughter that he had to turn over half the proceeds to his father. If these were his earnings then that’s awful, but they were not his earnings, they were his father’s, which means that far from being extortionate Joe was being very generous, paying him a 50% commission on the bribes he collected on his behalf. I don’t know what the going rate for bag men is, but I find it hard to believe it’s as high as 50%.

      1. It’s irrelevant what you can or can’t believe. What’s relevant is what there’s evidence of. To date, there is no evidence of Joe Biden being bribed. Either the GOP has it or the don’t. If they have it, they should present it. If they don’t, they should drop the charade.

        1. The evidence is all the money that Hunter was being paid. It’s not credible that these people were bribing Hunter. Nobody pays that much money for mere lobbying. It’s obvious to everyone that the money was a quid pro quo for the promise of favors from Joe. Nothing else would justify that kind of money.

          And the clear evidence we have that Joe played along with this, by meeting Hunter’s “clients”, dropping by when they had dinner, calling in to their meetings, proves that he was the product they were paying for. That was the purpose of it.

          This is obvious to everyone. Those who deny it are simply not being honest.

          1. Again: it doesn’t matter what you believe about credibility.

            Either there is evidence of that money going to Joe Biden or there isn’t. To date, there isn’t.

            1. There is evidence of it going to Joe — Hunter’s complaint to his daughter that he only gets to keep 50% of what he collects, and the rest goes to Joe. In other words he thought his commission should be even more than 50%.

            2. “Either there is evidence of that money going to Joe Biden or there isn’t.”

              Someone does not understand the meaning of “bribery.”

              “To date, there isn’t.”

              That’s false. (And there’s no sense presenting, yet again, the evidence to those who are willfully blind.)

        2. And, once again, “Anonymous”, because of this recent STUPID change that was imposed with no notice. NO other site does this.

          Also, why is this the only site where it’s impossible to follow a discussion in order, from top to bottom?

      2. Lobbying is not that lucrative. Nobody pays that much for mere influence. Lobbyists who are well paid are doing more than just influencing, they’re setting up meetings, offering advice, guiding their clients through the process, etc. And even they aren’t paid anything like what Hunter was (and still is) getting.

      3. If all Hunter Biden was

        The if is a useless qualifier. There is almost endless evidence that the people sending the cash were BUYING Joe. not hunter. Otherwise Joes presence in person and on phone calls was meaningless. You insist on ignoring ALL the evidence.

    2. I hate the change they just quietly made, that you have to put in your information each time and can no longer rely on it already being there. Why? Whoever’s running this site, why would you do this?

        1. No, it isn’t. WordPress doesn’t make changes like that. WordPress is just an engine; the templates are developed by whoever is running the site, and they must have deliberately changed them.

  3. “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’.”

    It helps to put that statement in a somewhat larger context. It’s from a case that occurred during the height of the Prohibition Era, and was about a bootlegger that had been illegally wiretapped by the government — although such wiretapping was not ruled illegal until many years later. The statement is from the dissenting Opinion of Justice Brandeis and the fuller quote, which is one of the most-famous quotes in legal history, is as follows:

    “Decency, security, and liberty alike demand that government officials shall be subjected to the same rules of conduct that are commands to the citizen. In a government of laws, existence of the government will be imperiled if it fails to observe the law scrupulously. Our government is the potent, the omnipresent teacher. For good or for ill, it teaches the whole people by its example. Crime is contagious. If the government becomes a lawbreaker, it breeds contempt for law; it invites every man to become a law unto himself; it invites anarchy. To declare that in the administration of the criminal law the end justifies the means-to declare that the government may commit crimes in order to secure the conviction of a private criminal-would bring terrible retribution. Against that pernicious doctrine this court should resolutely set its face.” Olmstead v. United States, 277 U.S. 438 (1928)

    I don’t have time right now to read the Professor’s full testimony, but I believe that that little bit of additional context helps to better understand what Justice Brandeis was getting at.

      1. No sweat. I must have quoted that section of the ruling at least 400 times over the years (no exaggeration), to the point where I don’t really need to look it up. So it really is no sweat.

  4. [This Week] Impeachment Inquiry, Government Shut Down Vote, Trump Indictments, RNC Debates, The Hill’s constant Dog-&-Pony Show,…
    All part of the prelude to World War3, We just need an “accidental” Tactical Nuke to spark it off. The Capitol has a systemic problem of K-Street (et.al.) Influence Peddling, ‘You’d have to Lock-em All Up’. Nothing will happen to President Biden until after Jan 20th 2025 (Inauguration Day).

    It’s the DNC that needs a Impeachment Inquiry – The Committee Members are the ones directing the Government.

  5. “Members can choose to be either potent teachers for civil discourse or political rage.” We hope our leaders will model for us civil discourse and be the potent leaders we need at this time. Well said!

  6. “Members can choose to be either potent teachers for civil discourse or political rage.” This line in and of itself lays out the true challenge to our leaders. They set the example and would do well to choose to be ‘potent leaders for civil discourse’. Well said.

  7. May God bless you for your courage, Sir. I am honored to be alive in a time when you are writing and fighting for our constitution no matter which party is at stake.

  8. Excellent, well-reasoned and dispassionate analysis. Nevertheless, I am sure your testimony will be attacked by the democrats simply because you argue for an inquiry.

  9. . . . the common article of faith in this constitutional process . . .

    Wait, what does that refer to? This is a bit confusing because it appears that the written testimony starts with, “As a law professor . . .” so that everything below that is all a quote. But then there is a quote within the quote, set in italics. So who and what is he quoting?

    1. @oldmanfromkansas,
      Oh Man are you Deep.
      It’s to early in the morning for that.
      [ I truly meant that as a compliment 👍 ]

  10. Since the DOJ cannot indict a sitting president, can the impeachment inquiry subpoena the Special Counsel investigation into Joe Biden’s handling of classified material?

  11. Just a little off topic, concerning Fettermans attire. All congress men and women should have to wear jackets like nascar drivers do. With labels on the jackets that tell us who is sponsoring that politician. Ok, sorry about that. Back to the topic.

    1. Independent Bob,
      If that were the case, all members of Congress would have to be the size of Fetterman to fit all that crap onto their attire.

  12. That’s more of a boilerplate kind of statement. He’s there to lend credibility to the inquiry despite the fact that there hasn’t been a house vote on the inquiry.

    The exact same procedure Pelosi followed

  13. Professor Turley, why aren’t you writing about what the judge in NY did to Trump via summary judgement? It is a big deal and we’d appreciate your opinion on it.

  14. Thank You. Just 2 questions; Does Bribery in 2015 constitute an Impeachable offense? And does influence peddling while VP and President for cash meet a high crime or misdemeanor?

Leave a Reply