Category: Constitutional Law

Democrats Drop Bribery and Other Crimes In Favor Of A Two-Article Impeachment

The Democratic leadership announced today that it has decided that President Donald Trump will be accused of just two articles of impeachment: abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. I commend the Committee in dropping the previous claims of bribery, extortion, campaign finance and obstruction of justice. While my fellow witnesses made good-faith arguments for those articles, my testimony primarily focused on the legal and constitutional flaws in claiming those criminal acts. I also commend the Committee in not following the suggested course of many in ignoring the legal definitions of those crimes to claim an impeachable offense. Finally, Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler is correct as he stated yesterday that I repeatedly stated that President Donald Trump could be impeached for a non-criminal act like abuse of power if it could be proven. I also said that he could be impeached for obstruction of Congress, if proven. However, this record falls considerably short of the record needed to support such claims for a submission to the Senate.

Continue reading “Democrats Drop Bribery and Other Crimes In Favor Of A Two-Article Impeachment”

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.

Continue reading “Impeaching By The Gross? Green Says House Could Impeach Trump Repeatedly”

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.

Continue reading “TURLEY TESTIFIES AT TRUMP IMPEACHMENT HEARING”

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:

Continue reading “Adam Schiff’s Capacious Definition of Bribery Was Tried in 1787”

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:

Continue reading “Worse Than Watergate? The Calls For Impeachment Outstrip Historical Sources”

How Devin Nunes’ Lawsuit Threat Could Undermine Donald Trump’s Impeachment Defense

Below is my column in USA Today on Rep. Devin Nunes, the ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, threatening lawsuits against the media. It will not come as a surprise of many that I opposed such lawsuits from a free speech perspective, but this effort could also ultimately undermine the position of the White House.

Here is the column:

Continue reading “How Devin Nunes’ Lawsuit Threat Could Undermine Donald Trump’s Impeachment Defense”

How Democrats Can Build A Stronger Case To Impeach President Trump

Below is my column in the Hill newspaper 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:

Continue reading “How Democrats Can Build A Stronger Case To Impeach President Trump”

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.

Continue reading “Court: McGahn Must Appear To Testify Before Congress”

The Case For Impeachment All Living Presidents

YouTube

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:

Continue reading “The Case For Impeachment All Living Presidents”

Trump Goes All-In With Giuliani and Crowdstrike In Fox Interview

While virtually everyone in Washington is burning any Christmas card or note connecting them to Rudy Giuliani, President Donald Trump gave a rambling and at times baffling interview on Fox & Friends in which he not only doubled down on his faith in Giuliani but restated the importance of the widely discredited Crowdstrike server claims. Giuliani has been denounced for his role in the Ukraine scandal and portrayed as a universally despised individual in the State Department and national security agencies. Yet, Trump heralded Giuliani as “a great crime-fighter” and leader even though Fox co-host Brian Kilmeade questioned his role in the scandal and raised the fact that two of his associates are now under indictment. I have been critical of Giuliani’s representation of the President for years. The interview could be an effort to keep Giuliani, who is under federal investigation, in the fold or the President may genuinely still believe that Giuliani is not only blameless but praiseworthy. Either way, this is not good. Both Giuliani and the Crowdstrike theory have been discredited in prior testimony. Nevertheless, the interview offer a glimpse into a possible defense in the Senate.

Continue reading “Trump Goes All-In With Giuliani and Crowdstrike In Fox Interview”

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:

Continue reading “Democrats Seek To Redefine Crimes To Reframe The Trump Impeachment”

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.

Continue reading “Mutually Assured Destruction: Sondland Confirms Quid Pro Quo and Claims Wide Circle Of Knowledge”

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:

Continue reading “Now For Your Moment Of Zen From The Trump Impeachment Hearings”

As Impeachment Draws Near, An “Agent Provocateur” May Have To Wait For An Urgent Pardon

YouTube

Below is my column in USA Today on the conviction of Roger Stone and his final battle for a presidential pardon to avoid a potentially terminal prison sentence.

Here is the column:

Continue reading “As Impeachment Draws Near, An “Agent Provocateur” May Have To Wait For An Urgent Pardon”