Category: Congress

Impeaching By The Gross? Green Says House Could Impeach Trump Repeatedly

We have previously discussed Rep. Al Green’s remarkably low and fluid standard for impeachable offenses. It now appears to be not only low and fluid but repetitive. On Thursday, the Texas Democrat said on C-Span that a “president can be impeached more than once” and that there is “no limit” to how times the House might want to impeach Trump. In my testimony before the House Judiciary Committee, I warned that this incomplete record would lend itself to a type of impulse-buy impeachment. Green’s remarks raises the specter of not just impulsive but compulsive impeachments.

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TURLEY TESTIFIES AT TRUMP IMPEACHMENT HEARING

This morning I will be testifying at the House Judiciary Committee in the opening hearing into the impeachment of President Donald J. Trump. My testimony is available below.

It has been roughly 20 years since I testified at the same hearing in the impeachment of President William J. Clinton and roughly 10 years since I was lead counsel at the last Senate impeachment trial (with my co-lead counsel Daniel Schwartz).

The hearing will be held at 10:00 am in 1100 Longworth House Office Building, Washington, DC 20515. It is open to the public.

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Adam Schiff’s Capacious Definition of Bribery Was Tried in 1787

The Trial of Warren Hastings

Below is my column in the Wall Street Journal on case that may be looming in the background of tomorrow’s opening hearing in the House Judiciary Committee on the impeachment of President Donald J. Trump.

I have been called to testify at the hearing. With only a few days to prepare, I will be completing my testimony today and I will hopefully post it before leaving for the hearing in the morning. This is a daunting but not unfamiliar challenge as an academic. It has been 20 years since I testified at the Clinton impeachment hearing with other constitutional and historical experts on this same question. It has been 10 years since I served as the last lead counsel (with Dan Schwartz) in the impeachment trial of Judge Thomas Porteous. The hearing will begin at 10:00 am in the Longworth House Office Building.

Here is the column:

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Worse Than Watergate? The Calls For Impeachment Outstrip Historical Sources

Below is my column in The Hill newspaper on the recent comparison of Chairman Adam Schiff and others to Watergate. It is not the first time that the rhetoric has outpaced the law of impeachment. However, if we are to have a meaningful exchange about impeachment, we should make a good-faith effort to agree on the historical facts.

Here is the column:

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How Democrats Can Build A Stronger Case To Impeach President Trump

Below is my column in USA Today on what the Democrats would have to do to build an actual case for the removal of the American president. I have previously said that abuse of power is impeachable, but it is the most difficult of potential impeachment claims. Once again, impeachment does not require a criminal allegation but it does require clarity. It also requires a complete and compelling record. This record is neither complete nor compelling on proof of an impeachable offense.

Rather than continuing to criticize the record, below is an effort to lay out a possible case for impeachment.

Here is the column:

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WSJ: Trump Knew About Whistleblower Complaint In August

The Wall Street Journal is reporting that President Donald Trump was briefed on the whistleblower complaint earlier than previously assumed. The Journal says that the briefing by White House counsel Pat Cipollone and National Security Council attorney John Eisenberg occurred in August, not September. That could offer significant support for the narrative of the Democrats in the ongoing impeachment effort.

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Court: McGahn Must Appear To Testify Before Congress

Federal District Court Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson delivered a victory for Congress  in a 120-page decision that former White House counsel Don McGahn must appear for testimony before the House Judiciary Committee.  I previously wrote that the White House was wrong in blocking the appearance of witnesses like McGahn as opposed to invoking executive privilege over certain areas of testimony.  Accordingly, I believe the opinion is the correct one but this does not end the struggle with Congress. Indeed, it may be just the beginning of the real struggle over privilege as opposed to immunity. Update: As expected, McGahn is appealing the ruling which will certainly achieve the purpose of delay but ultimately magnify the loss in precedent for the White House.

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The Case For Impeachment All Living Presidents

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Below is my column in The Hill Newspaper on the new standard on impeachment emerging from the House hearings. Democrats continue to state an insistence on a vote by Christmas — the shortest period of investigation of an impeachment in history. If impeachment is to be reduced to such an impulse buy item, there are many other choices for voters.

Here is the column:

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Poll: Independents Shifting Against Impeachment

We previously discussed how polls do not show a shift in favor of impeachment after the much covered impeachment hearings in the House Intelligence Committee. Indeed, a poll in the key state of Wisconsin shows a shift against impeachment after the hearings. Now, a poll from Emerson College shows a surprising shift among independents with 49 percent now oppose to impeachment. Over all, Trump popularity have also shifted with a gain of five points to 48 percent favorability.

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Democrats Seek To Redefine Crimes To Reframe The Trump Impeachment

Below is my column in The Hill newspaper on the three new crimes being alleged by the Democrats: bribery; extortion; and obstruction. There was a critical shift away from the abuse of power framework this week in favor of these criminal allegations. That may reflect the fact that the hearings have not resonated with voters, or at least have not caused a shift in public opinion. I have previously stated that a president can be impeached for abuse of power, including a quid pro quo. However, when alleging a crime, the elements of such a crime are relevant. Indeed, Schiff has referenced those elements in his comments in the hearings. The problem is that the case law falls far short of the rhetoric surrounding these crimes.

Here is the column:

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Mutually Assured Destruction: Sondland Confirms Quid Pro Quo and Claims Wide Circle Of Knowledge

European Union Ambassador Gordon Sondland sent shockwaves around Washington after he not only confirmed what he deduced as a quid pro quo demand but that a wide circle of top officials were fully informed for the effort. Sondland did not directly implicate Trump who he recounted denied any quid pro quo to him in a call on September 9th. However, he offered compelling testimony that he was told to speak to Rudy Giuliani who pursued such a quid pro quo. His testimony suggested knowledge of these efforts by Vice President Michael Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, former National Security Adviser John Bolton, acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, and others. Pence and Pompeo immediately issued direct denials of that meetings or communications with Sondland ever occurred. What was striking is that Sondland made it clear that he would not go down alone. His testimony reflected a type of mutually assured destruction strategy for a wide circle of officials.

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Rep. Blumenauer Under Fire For Calling For Boycott Of Sondland’s Hotels To Pressure Him

In the course of the impeachment hearings, many Democratic members repeatedly accused President Donald Trump of intimidating witnesses with tweets. Indeed, many of us have criticized Trump for his attacks on Ambassador Marie L. Yovanovitch. Yet, not a single Democratic member objected to the call of Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Oregon) for a boycott of the hotels owned by Gordon Sondland to pressure him in testifying before Congress. The tweet by Blumenauer was wildly inappropriate, particularly in a process with pressure on witnesses is a central theme. Yet, when asked, members like Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA) simply dismissed the criticism by saying that Trump does worse things. It was a signature moment in our age of rage. There is no self-evaluation or self-awareness in engaging in the very acts that you are objecting to by the other side. The reason is that you are right so any means is viewed as righteous.

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“The Gordon Problem”: Former Ambassador To Face Grilling Before House Committee

President Trump’s European Union ambassador, Gordon Sondland, will appear today before the House Intelligence Committee in what may be the most awaited testimony of the impeachment hearings. Indeed, Sondland has few options and none of them are good as a witness. He has been skewered by witness after witness — leaving the image of a dim-witted braggart with virtually no diplomatic experience and even less judgment. Former National Security Council aide Tim Morrison simply referred to him in clinical terms as “the Gordon problem.” While some of us have questioned whether the Democrats are building a viable impeachment case, they are clearly building a compelling case for a highly inappropriate and damaging campaign for a quid pro quo. Sondland was either a dupe or a designer of that ill-conceived strategy.

In his opening statement, Sondland states that there was a quid pro quo stated by Giuliani but he is less clear about President Donald Trump. However, he makes clear that he did not want to work with Giuliani but that it was clear that Giuliani was carrying out the wishes of the President. That may throw Giuliani under the bus but it is not likely to make this day any easier for Sondland. On page 5, Sondland makes clear that he came to understand that aid was conditioned on the investigations. That will not however make today any easier for Sondland as members delve into the Trump connections and directions.

I will be doing the coverage of the hearings today for CBS News and BBC.

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Now For Your Moment Of Zen From The Trump Impeachment Hearings

Below is my column in The Hill on the unfolding impeachment hearings. As I have stated, the hearings have proved damaging for President Donald Trump — damage that was bizarrely magnified by Trump himself with an attack on Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch. The move only pushed many Republicans on the Committee to avoid aggressive questioning of the diplomat. The tweet was unfair and remarkably self-defeating. As with the attacks by Trump on Taylor and Kent as “never Trumpers,” the tweet was wildly off base. While I have raised concerns over these allegations as a basis for impeachment, these diplomats strike me as people who have served our country with distinction and dedication. They are indeed the type of professionals that we need in our foreign posts.

That does not change the difficult questions that lie ahead. Perhaps this week’s testimony will materially change the zen-like questions discussed in this column.

Here is the column:

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Senator Murphy’s Defense Of Hunter Biden Conspicuously Leaves Out One Word . . .

If, as expected, the House impeaches President Donald Trump on the basis of the Ukrainian controversy, the contract of Hunter Biden with the Ukrainian energy company, Burisma, will likely be a focus of the defense. That has made some members uneasy since the $50,000 paid every month to Biden is widely viewed as a classic scheme to influence his father, who was the key official in charge of Ukrainian aid and assistance. For that reason, the defense of the Bidens by Sen. Chris Murphy (D., Conn.) on CNN’s “State of The Union” drew many Beltway insiders. Murphy however may have highlighted the problem with the omission of a single word.

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