The House Judiciary Committee is about to approve two articles of impeachment as member after member last night declared that time is of the essence. The House is now set to fulfill its pledge to impeach President Donald Trump by Christmas. For some us, the mad rush toward impeachment by the Democrats has been utterly incomprehensible. It is difficult enough to go to the Senate in a presidential impeachment without an accepted crime and on the narrowest basis in history. However, the Democrats know that they have combined those liabilities with the thinnest record of any modern impeachment – a record filled with gaps and conflicts. The Democrats know that this record is guaranteed to fail and could easily justify the Senate holding a trial as cursory as its hearings. Yet, they would prefer guaranteed failure rather than build a credible case for removal. Why? The reasons put forward by House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) and others are not credible and, given the paucity of examination given these claims, it is worth closer scrutiny.
During the testimony last week, I expressed various concerns with the artificially short period allowed for the impeachment investigation due to the Democratic pledge to impeach President Donald Trump by Christmas. Not only will that abbreviated period leave a thin and incomplete record, but it will leave “half of this country behind.” That appears to be exactly the right estimate. A new Monmouth poll shows that 50 percent of the country now opposes impeachment. The polling in some swing states is even worse. In other words, this impeachment is playing to the Democratic base and little beyond it — precisely what Speaker Nancy Pelosi pledged that she would not allow to happen.
Former FBI lawyer Lisa Page is suing the FBI and Department of Justice for violating the Federal Privacy Act in the release of their test messages to former FBI Counterespionage Chief Peter Strzok. President Donald Trump has made repeated and mocking references to the texts, including salacious and romantic messages between the two former FBI employees who engaged in an extramarital affair. Many of us have recoiled at the level of disclosure of this affair and particularly the President’s inappropriate taunts, including last night at a rally in Pennsylvania. The lawsuit could raise some interesting questions of the privacy affords such records, but it is unlikely to prevail.
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.
Below is my column in the Hill newspaper on continuing rise of rage over reason in the consideration of this rush impeachment. Chairman Jerry Nadler has suggested that his committee may simply move directly to articles of impeachment this week. This rocket docket for impeachment is baffling when you have a record that is incomplete and conflicted. With Johnson, Nixon, and Clinton, the records in the House contained widely accepted criminal acts and extensive records. This record is a short as the schedule set by the Democratic leadership.
Attorney General William Barr has reportedly counseled President Donald Trump that his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani has served him poorly and should be dropped. The Washington Post reported Sunday that Barr has directly raised with Trump the need for him to recognize what a liability Giuliani has become. It is an interesting story because Giuliani has not only become inappropriately intertwined with State Department business but also Justice Department business. It is not clear if Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has made any such objections, but the Post is reporting that various sources have confirmed that Barr has moved against Giuliani.
Another horrific attack in Uttar Pradesh led to the death of a twenty-three year old woman rape victim while traveling to attend a court hearing. Police accuse five men, two identified by the victim as her previous rapists, of stalking her as she prepared to board a commuter train. They doused her with kerosene then set her alight.
She then suffered having to walk nearly a kilometer afterward to summon police via telephone. She was medivaced to New Delhi having received burns to ninety-five percent of her body before suffering cardiac arrest and succumbing to her injuries.
The attack not only highlights a combative approach by some members of society toward the rights of women, but also conveys the shortcomings of a burdened legal system that in some ways facilitates retribution against victims and vigilantism against the accused. It is another, probably less recognized cost of the lack of speedy trial protections in Uttar Pradesh.
Today I posted a column addressing a false story circulating on MSNBC and other outlets that my testimony in the Clinton and Trump impeachments are in contradiction. In fact, the testimony is so close that I could be charged more with self-plagiarism than self-contradiction. However in the hearing there was another clearly false statement put into the record by the Democratic members: that I am “demonstrably wrong” in saying that this could be the fastest or shortest impeachment in history. While the effort is clearly designed to encourage people not to seriously consider my criticism of the record and process in this case, a little history — and my actual testimony — might be helpful.
In the wake of yesterday’s hearing, my office and home have been inundated with threats from people irate over the fact that I would question the sufficiency of this record for impeachment. There has also been a couple of facially false narratives that have been aired and are being widely disseminated without any apparent fact checking or analysis. I have addressed one historical point separately. In recognition of Sen. Pat Moynihan’s view that “everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not to his own facts,” I have published a column on these attacks: Hill Column
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.
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.
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.
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.