Jonathan Turley is a liberal legal scholar, although one who’s deviated from the left’s consensus on major political issues.
For instance, he was a prominent voice calling for the impeachment of President Clinton in 1998. And, when House Republicans sued the Obama administration over Obamacare in 2014, Turley was their lawyer.
All of which is to say that many on the left consider him a contrarian traitor, while many on the right consider him an opponent who (very) occasionally makes sense. One of those instances, for conservatives, would be on the current issue of impeachment of President Donald Trump.
On that matter, one could rightly say he went off the liberal reservation during an appearance on Friday’s “CBS This Morning,” where he said that an impeachment vote in the House could create “the trial that Trump wants.”
In addition to Turley, the discussion featured Kim Wehle, a legal analyst who writes for the nominally conservative, if vociferously anti-Trump, website The Bulwark (Bill Kristol’s new project after The Weekly Standard closed shop).
Wehle said the Democrats had “absolutely” made their case. Turley, not so much.
According to Newsbusters, asked why he didn’t think Democrats didn’t have a case, Turley said that the impeachment inquiry was “certainly the shortest investigation, it’s certainly the thinnest evidentiary record, and it’s the narrowest impeachment ever to go to the Senate, if they were to go on this record.”
“Did they prove something was contemptible or impeachable?” Turley said.
“Contemptible is not synonymous with impeachable. The president does set policy. They have three conversations, two of them directly, one with Senator Johnson, one with Ambassador Sondland, where Trump denies a quid pro quo….so you have a conflicted record. And the question is, what do you need to remove a sitting president?”
Whatever it is, it’s more than what Democrats have presented, Turley said.
“Whether this is intentional or not, it seems designed to fail in the Senate,” Turley said, according to Newsbusters.
“I don’t think you could prove a removable offense of a president on this record even if the Democrats were in control. This thing is too narrow, it is – it doesn’t have a broad foundation, and it’s an undeveloped record.
“There are a lot of core witnesses that were not called. And the question is why? They said, ‘We want a vote by December. We want to vote before Santa.’ Why? Why … why would you be pushing this instead of calling these critical witnesses?”
In fairness, Turley was apparently unfamiliar with Article CXVII, Section Eleventybillion of the Constitution, in which the coming of Santa removes all potential presidential infractions.
However, continuing my line of obvious Christmas gags, Turley argued Democrats could get a lump of coal if this ends up in the Senate.
“And so the question is, what is this going to look like in the Senate?” Turley said. “And I got to tell you, I think this could be the trial that Trump wants. And they will — the first witness they call may be Hunter Biden.”
Wehle then proved that if The Bulwark goes the way of The Weekly Standard, she has a potential career as a comedian ahead of her.
“Well, let’s hope it’s as civil as it was in the House,” she said. “Because so far the process has been, I think, very measured and thoughtful and professional, which is good.”
“Except for the Republicans storming the basement one day,” Mason quipped.
“Yes, that was — that was a little footnote there,” Wehle said.
Right, but it was otherwise “very measured and thoughtful and professional.”
Let’s see what happens if Republicans try using the same rules in the Senate that the Democrats did in the House in order to handcuff the members from the other side and prevent them from even questioning witnesses. The GOP can even have that part where the other side doesn’t have subpoena power. Let’s even see the trial move behind closed doors with controlled leaks coming out on the daily.
I have no doubt that, in that case, we’ll see Bill Kristol rush onto the set, push Wehle’s chair off the set and engage in whatever qualifies as rage for the Droopy Dog of NeverTrump conservatives.
But that’s the thing: Republicans will be the ones setting up the rules, and early indications are that they will be based on the Clinton impeachment trial. That would mean both sides would have the ability to call witnesses — including, yes, Hunter Biden, who may have to explain how he obtained his sinecure at Burisma.
The Washington Post is apparently already annoyed that Republicans might hold the trial so as to coincide with the Iowa caucuses, keeping Democratic primary candidates who are also United States senators in Washington during the first electoral contest of the primary season. If only this minor-league outrage had manifested itself during the current impeachment inquiry, but I digress.
The point is, be careful what you wish for, Democrats. Santa may indeed bring it to you, and my guess is that neither Wehle nor many Democrats will be calling it “very measured and thoughtful and professional.”
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