The legal/constitutional case is settled

Okay, this is from last week, but still mighty relevant and definitely fits in with plenty of testimony I heard today.  I must say, it is so infuriating to listen to all the Republicans on the committee continue to make completely absurd and bad-faith arguments.  Bonus points for all the Democrats for not constantly interrupting with variations on “Seriously?  Seriously?” or “At last, have you no decency?”  I don’t think I could do what they are.

Anyway, amidst all the discussion last week about Jonathan Turley’s testimony (speaking of bad faith!) a key point was largely overlooked.  Joshua Geltzer in the Atlantic:

But the Republicans’ legal expert brought a surprise, if one that received too little attention. Jonathan Turley submitted an extensive written statement, in which he disagreed with his fellow witnesses in myriad respects. But as he delivered his opening oral remarks, he cut to the heart of the matter: “The use of military aid for a quid pro quo to investigate one’s political opponent, if proven, can be an impeachable offense.” [emphases mine]

It was easy to miss this line, especially as Turley quickly returned to railing against what he consistently characterized as an impeachment process moving too hastily. But this was it—the whole ball game.

This was the legal question to be answered at yesterday’s hearing. This is the legal question that every member of the House Judiciary Committee will have to answer when they vote on whether to refer out of committee articles of impeachment. And this is the legal question that every member of the whole House will have to answer when they vote on whether to send to the Senate articles of impeachment for a trial there.

Indeed, this is the legal question underpinning it all: Do the facts, as alleged, constitute an impeachable offense?

On this, there was unanimity among yesterday’s four witnesses. On this, there was a clear, single answer to emerge. And that answer was yes.

Turley’s opposition to Trump’s impeachment is, from his perspective, consistent with this surprising view. That’s because Turley said that a quid pro quo that trades public duty (military aid to an ally) for private gain (dirtying of a political rival) can be an impeachable offense “if proven.” And Turley made clear in later testimony that he does not believe it has been proved.

On this, Turley said: “I don’t see proof of a quid pro quo.” But Trump’s own chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, publicly acknowledged this exact quid pro quo back in October. So did Trump’s ambassador to the European Union, Gordon Sondland, in sworn testimony before the House Intelligence Committee in November, at least with respect to the White House meeting. So Turley is just plain wrong here. Whether that reflects willful blindness or actual ignorance is of little moment.

Exactly.  And, while we’re on Turley, Elie Mystal had a terrific takedown of his hackery last week:

The fourth professor, requested by Republicans on the committee, was Jonathan Turley from George Washington University Law School. Republicans know that all they have to do to outflank the Democrats is serve up talking points Sean Hannity can use on his show. They tapped Turley to do the easy work of poisoning the well with more misinformation.

Turley did not disappoint. He told Republicans what they wanted to hear right from his opening statement: “I’m concerned about lowering impeachment standard to fit a paucity of evidence and an abundance of anger. I believe this impeachment not only fails to satisfy the standard of past impeachments, but would create a dangerous precedent for future impeachments…. This would be the first impeachment in history where there would be considerable debate, and in my view, not compelling evidence, of the commission of a crime.”

Turley beclowned himself with his remarks, because this is not the first time Jonathan Turley has testified about impeachment. In 1998, testifying in front of the House Judiciary Committee during the Clinton impeachment hearing, Turley said, “No matter how you feel about President Clinton, no matter how you feel about the independent counsel, by his own conduct, he has deprived himself of the perceived legitimacy to govern. You need both political and legal legitimacy to govern this nation, because the President must be able to demand an absolute sacrifice from the public at a moment’s notice.”

It’s impossible to explain the shameless hypocrisy of Turley’s conflicting statements without concluding that his testimony, in both hearings, was offered in bad faith. Can Turley really expect us to believe that he would support impeachment if Trump lied about what he got on Volodymyr Zelensky’s blue dress, but would also support Bill Clinton’s right to extort a foreign power to influence an American election? Turley can’t square his Trump testimony with his Clinton testimony; all he can hope for is that people are too polite to call him a hypocrite to his face.

The short version of today’s political reality… if it wasn’t for bad faith, the Republicans wouldn’t have no faith at all.

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