The Green Scare and the New McCarthyism: A Response to Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi

Below is my column in the Daily Beast responding to the attack launched by Democratic Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL) during my testimony in the first hearing of the impeachment inquiry into the conduct of President Joseph Biden. Krishnamoorthi falsely suggested that I represented and supported Tom Green, a polygamist who was convicted of child rape. While I attempted to explain that that was untrue, Krishnamoorthi would not allow me to finish and then quickly left the hearing room. I never represented Green, I condemned Green in those columns, and said that he was justifiably prosecuted. The columns dealt with my opposition to “morality legislation.” I was representing The Sister Wives family both during a criminal investigation and my later challenge to the underlying law. I continue to oppose such laws that have been used against a wide range of religious and social groups, including LGBT individuals. I never thought that a liberal Democrat would attack me for such pro bono representation in support of civil liberties.

Most people saw the smear effort for what it was, but it is a moment worth revisiting. I assume that Krishnamoorthi knew that his attack was false, but it did not matter in the current environment. It is illustrative of how civil public discourse has been supplanted by trash talking, even in Congress during an impeachment inquiry into the President of the United States.

It was not exactly a return to the Red Scare . . . more of a Green Scare. During the Red Scare, lawyers were also attacked for taking civil liberties cases on behalf of unpopular clients. The only thing missing this week was a McCarthyesque moment of Krishnamoorthi waving his papers and demanding if I am or ever was a polygamist.

Here is the column:

When I was called to testify at yesterday’s first hearing on the impeachment inquiry of President Joe Biden, I had no illusions.

Roughly 25 years ago, I testified at the hearing in the Clinton impeachment. Four years ago, I testified at the hearing in the first Trump impeachment. Each was followed by death threats and personal attacks.

In an example of hope over experience, I reminded the congressional members this week that these “are constitutional moments that demand the best from each of us in transcending the passions and politics of time.” I warned that this toxic environment begins with how members treat this moment and “members can choose to be either potent teachers for civil discourse or political rage.”

One such member quickly rose to make his choice: Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL) chose rage.

In my testimony, I laid out the constitutional and historical baseline for impeachment inquiries. While I stated that I do not believe that the current evidence would support an actual article of impeachment, I testified that the evidence clearly satisfied the threshold for an impeachment inquiry and, if these allegations are established, President Biden could be impeached.

I was immediately criticized by figures like former Trump White House senior adviser Steve Bannon for reserving judgment on any impeachable conduct, and by Rep. Krishnamoorthi for even suggesting that the House should determine if such conduct has occurred.

However, Krishnamoorthi did not challenge my analysis. He attacked me personally. In a truly bizarre moment, Krishnamoorthi denounced me as a defender of a criminal child molester and polygamist.

Krishnamoorthi waved around a copy of a 2006 op-ed in The Guardian and an op-ed in USA Today to paint me as a supporter of Tom Green, a polygamist who was convicted of child rape.

It was untrue and I attempted to respond, but Krishnamoorthi refused. He then quickly left the hearing.

It took me about 30 minutes for another member to kindly allow me to set the record straight. Even if Krishnamoorthi and his colleagues were not interested in the truth, I felt that the public deserved to know. Certainly my three children sitting behind me deserved to know.

In 2006, I was representing the “Sister Wives” family—first in a criminal investigation into polygamy and then in an action challenging the underlying statute. I have spent my entire career opposing “morality legislation” criminalizing consensual relations between adults. For decades, I opposed the criminalization of homosexuality and supported same-sex marriage. As someone with libertarian views, I oppose society mandating moral codes to be imposed on individuals. These laws have often targeted religious and social minorities, including members of the LGBT community.

We prevailed in the Sister Wives lawsuit and the law was found unconstitutional. (The decision was later set aside on appeal on technical grounds.)

Moreover, in the columns cited, I did not defend polygamy as a practice. In one I stated, “I detest polygamy.” I condemned Green as “properly prosecuted for a child sex crime—just as a person in a monogamous marriage would be prosecuted.”

I was opposing such morality laws as dictating private consensual relations between adults and conflicting with similar relations by merely adulterous couples.

It was strange to have a liberal Democrat attack me for such work, but Krishnamoorthi clearly knew all of this when he started waving around the “evidence” that I was a pedophilic fellow traveler.

As I said to the Committee, the attack would not work. It would not stop this inquiry or change the underlying constitutional standards. It would not help shield the president from an investigation that the majority of the public supports.

However, it was a defining moment. This is a constitutional process that the public expects to be carried out with a modicum of solemnity and respect. It is a process that demands integrity and, yesterday, the public was watching.

Former Sen. Joe McCarthy (R-WI) used the same smears and bullying tactics. Back then, he was waving around lists of names of people who were to be blacklisted and condemned for holding opposing views.

I previously wrote how Democrats are increasingly adopting the tactics once used against the left during the Red Scare, including the use of blacklists and personal attacks to silence critics. JournalistsFBI agentsprosecutors, and whistleblowers have all been subject to these same ad hominem attacks.

After a hearing in Feb. 2023 where I testified on the government’s censorship efforts, MSNBC contributor and former Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) denounced fellow witnesses Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI), and former Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) as “Putin apologists.” (For the record, she also attacked me as not being “a real lawyer.”)

In one of the lowest moments, Rep. Susan Wild (D-PA)—during her commencement speech at the law school at which I teach—accused me of wrongful conduct in an address to the faculty and students. Her allegation was that I changed my position on the necessity of criminal conduct in the Trump impeachment after saying that the House could impeach for non-criminal conduct in the Clinton impeachment.

It was demonstrably false. Not only did I repeatedly state in the Trump impeachment that the House could impeach for non-criminal conduct, the Democratic Chair and House managers relied on that testimony in both the impeachment and later Senate trial. (Rep. Wild never apologized.)

Likewise, not a single Democratic member objected to Krishnamoorthi’s tactics or offered me an opportunity to correct the record. The point was not whether it was true. It was one more sorry sordid moment in our politics of personal destruction.

In my testimony, I told members that we should be able to discuss these issues without another race to the bottom of slanders and smears: “We can disagree, but we need not hate each other.” Rep. Krishnamoorthi clearly wanted to win that race.

Justice Louis Brandeis once said that “Our government is the potent, the omnipresent teacher. For good or for ill it teaches the whole people by example.”

The license that some feel to engage in hateful rhetoric and personal attacks is the result of how members treat this moment. We have become a nation addicted to rage and members like Rep. Krishnamoorthi only inject more of that bitter bile into the body politic.

Again, it won’t work and the public is watching.

65 thoughts on “The Green Scare and the New McCarthyism: A Response to Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi”

    1. Truer words never spoken . . . he IS a man of honor and principle. The moron from Illinois is dumpster fodder, genetically and intellectually.

  1. The only Bipartisanships a Dem will have is “If you agree with his/her opinion. A Dem will only accept a ruling By The USCC only if it is in agreement with their opinion. Hell Schumer will stand out there and fully threaten SCJs.

  2. Professor Turley’s testimony was, as usual, stellar; I watched the hearing only to learn from him.

    True as to discourse devolving into trash talking, but it’s the same old sad story: if an attorney represents someone who allegedly did something awful, criminal or civil, he or she approves, endorses and defends that conduct, not the defendant vis a vis his, her – or its, if an entity – legal rights. (How many of us were asked “Could you defend somebody if you knew he was guilty?”) That, and the well-known fact that we are all (1) sleazy criminal defense lawyers, representing horrid people to “get them off on a legal technicality,” or (2) “ambulance-chasers” who stage or exaggerate accidents. To paraphrase a great line from A Few Good Men, I was sick the day they taught all that in law school.

    John Adams could not get elected today.

    The sadder punchline: Krishnamoorthi has a J.D. from Harvard.

    1. Thank you for the Like, hullbobby.

      My point about Krishnamoorthi’s Harvard J.D. was that the average Joe Schmow thinks it means a lot. Even if his J.D. were from Beer Keg State School of Law, he still has a legal education and should know better. Maybe he was sick that day too.

      1. The average Joe Schmo knows how to spell Joe Schmo. So until you can establish you have risen to the level of average perhaps you should not attempt to put words in the mouth of your superiors.

  3. My only wish is that Professor Turley was more forceful in calling out this fascist moron, using his name and directing righteous anger towards the other Democrats sitting there like the dumb “mean girls” of high school that they truly are.

    I have seen other Reps moronically attacking Turley, Wasserman-Schultz and Own Goal Goldman come to mind, without giving him even a chance to respond. The left are the new McCarthyites, the left are the new HUAC Committee, the left are the new Red Scare mongers, the left are the new communists and under today’s leftist domination of all of our institutions they have even gotten the ACLU to shut down speech and the Anti-Defamation League to become anti-Israel and pro-Palestinian. That is quite a feat.

    After taking over colleges, high schools and now middle and grade schools we end up with polls that tell us that MAJORIITIES support censorship. We have no Journalism Schools left, they are taking over Law Schools and Medical Schools, they own the media, Hollywood and tech and they are supported by our greatest enemy since the highs of Soviet power, the CCP. Notice that the “Green Activists” that DEMAND we shut down everything because they are supposedly worried to death about the the planet dying have not one complaint about Chinese energy consumption and development. China can build a coal plant a week and we don’t hear a peep, but just last night Biden snuck in a new regulation against GAS FURNACES for us.

    The LEFT HATES US and they want us to fail otherwise they would complain about China once in awhile.

  4. I’ve never had a high opinion of politicians, and this current crop of Democrats have reinforced all the negative stereotypes ever thrown at them across the decades. Today’s Democrats are “party first,” America last. They will say and do anything, no matter how dishonest, how low, to preserve their party’s power. When politicians put their party over the good of the people they represent, it’s just a short step to totalitarian control. Democrats like to accuse Republicans of being autocrats and fascists, but the major political sins today — censorship, presidential corruption, child abuse, and weakening the border — are all on the Democrats. How many ways can we say: the country is falling to ruin?

  5. Never assume, Professor Turley, that Krishnamoorthi or any other democrat in Congress know that their provocations are false. Prompting discord is in their DNA and their loathsome actions are always instinctual. Not only are they in their element for perpetrating mischief with the immunity afforded them by the “Speech and Debate Clause”, but they are allowed also to quickly “regain their time” whenever they must be quick to interrupt and prevent an answer that would embarrass them. Democrats in Congress the likes of Krishnamoorthi and too many others are a scourge that fair-minded Americans are coming to appreciate.

  6. I wish Professor Turley had recourse to bring suit against having Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi’s horrible smears, lies, and libel repeated ad nauseam by the Leftist media.

  7. Palmerism

    Liberalism is a philosophy of divergence. Progressivism is a philosophy of monotonic change. Conservativism is a philosophy of moderation. Principles matter.

  8. I never thought that a liberal Democrat would attack me for such pro bono representation in support of civil liberties.

    You really think Dems care about civil liberties? Wow. You’re living in the 1960s. It’s 2023, those days are long gone.

    1. Old man, I think the professor is either very naïve or one of the best tight rope walkers we have ever seen.

    2. It seems to me that Chairman Comer should have let Professor Turley respond immediately when Rep Biggs raised a point of order.

      1. If I were the Chairman, my rules would not be “5 minutes”. My rules woud be 5 questions. The first thing you say that doesnt end with a ?, and a response from the witness, you’re done.

  9. The eloquent nature in which you responded with calmness to this attack from a coward, represents a governance I pray for in the White House. The left doesn’t know a thing about respect of ideas. They only know how to attack. Finally, even though this time in our life is very disturbing, the attention given now in conservative media outlets, is eye opening for the American people. We need to keep fighting. In the “Proper’ manner.

  10. OT,
    Read an article estimating 90% of online content will be by AI by 2025.
    Will that lead to more Anonymous postings?
    Or will the good professor and Darren have to enable some kind of login/paid to post like standard?

  11. He is emblematic of the Democratic Party: Stasi like totalitarian thugs. These lies will not only not be bright to light by the MSM: their fact checkers will perpetuate those lies. That is where we are in 2023 in America

  12. Thank you, Jonathan, for an excellent article. Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi was CLEARLY auditioning for Nancy Pelosi’s vacant seat on the Democrat’s woke bench. He’s perfecting the Democrats approach; Scream a bald faced lie, and then leave the room quickly.

  13. Mr. Turley, I have followed you for many years and have always been taught by your well spoken or written replies to legal questions and especially in the realm of the political arena.
    Not being a student of law it forces me to research the particular situation your speaking of at that time. My research seems to always conclude a fuller understanding of the legal
    answers for the truth. Keep up the great work you do to bring folks like me that are seeking the truth and fairness in our Judicial system.

    Ken Hooper

  14. Men of his particular proclivity have a ‘volatile-streak’ in them. An innate nature of subordinating their chosen Subject (J.Turley) with quick outbursts of Rage, most often of – No Substance – .

    The Diaspora of Sunni Muslims in India has been on-going since the Partition of India (1947)

    Some 76 years latter, the Civil War is close to being completely won by the Hindu party,
    as India is to be renamed Bhārat and many Sunni Muslim renamed Places/towns as well, to shed the vestiges of British Authority and the Muslim League.

    The ‘volatility’ is still there, in terms of prejudices. The transition is somewhat similar to the removal of Confederate Statutes and vestiges of Anglo Colonialism in America Today. Anger – crosses all fields but it is stigmatized and labeled when it occurs in distinctive groups (i.e.: Angry White Males, Angry Black Males, Angry Hindu Males, Angry Muslim Males, etc.)

    My advice, although he is an Intelligent, Educated, Smart person. However don’t turn your back on Him. He’s a ‘Jumpy Guy’, keep your distance, you never know when He’s going to go off.

  15. Jonthan the Left Wing Radical DEM’s do not care about the truth and who they destroy, regular DEM’s remain silent, DEM’s go after anybody who is not with them 100%. They even go after their own, such as RFK Jr. The attack on you was wrong and not true but as I said they don’t care. The DEM party needs to reject these Left Wing Radicals and perhaps if they loose in 2024 and lose the Senate as well, the Center DEM;s take back control reject these radical ideas and attacks.

  16. I heard it and it was absolutely disgusting. The fact that he openly lied and tried to slander Turley and NOT ONE Democrat there objected tells me all I need to know about the Democrat party of 2023. It’s disgusting.

  17. Watching you during this cluster coitus I thought to myself, JT has the patience of Job and the wisdom of Solomon. Thanks much.

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