- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Legal scholar Jonathan Turley will testify in the House Judiciary Committee’s impeachment hearing Wednesday that he is a fierce critic of President Trump’s policies and conduct but nevertheless views the impeachment case against him as “woefully inadequate.”

“One can oppose President Trump’s policies or actions but still conclude that the current legal case for impeachment is not just woefully inadequate, but in some respects, dangerous, as the basis for the impeachment of an American president,” Mr. Turley will say, according to his prepared opening statement.

Mr. Turley, a professor at George Washington University Law School, is one of four legal scholars to testify Wednesday on the grounds for impeachment. He is the only witness called by Republicans, with the other three being Democratic witness with a history of statements supporting the impeachment of Mr. Trump.

SEE ALSO: Democratic witnesses say impeachment warranted, clear evidence of quid pro quo

He also testified at the impeachment hearings for President Bill Clinton. He served as a lawyer in the last Senate impeachment trial, where he represented Democratic-appointed federal Judge G. Thomas Porteous Jr.

In his opening statement, Mr. Turley will scold House Democrats for the rush to impeach Mr. Trump on flimsy evidence, and warn them that they are setting a dangerous precedent for a partisan impeachment.

“I am concerned about lowering impeachment standards to fit a paucity of evidence and an abundance of anger,” he says. “If the House proceeds solely on the Ukrainian allegations, this impeachment would stand out among modern impeachments as the shortest proceeding, with the thinnest evidentiary record, and the narrowest grounds ever used to impeach a president.

He acknowledged the hostile political environment that gave rise to the impeachment push, as well as Mr. Trump’s inappropriate behavior that was the basis for the inquiry. But he urged Democrats to resist the pressure to “just do it” when it comes to an impeachment vote and instead take the courageous step to oppose the weak and hastily contrived case against Mr. Trump.

“We are all mad and where has it taken us? Will a slipshod impeachment make us less mad or will it only give an invitation

for the madness to follow in every future administration? That is why this is wrong,” he says.

Mr. Turley will hammer home his point that he is not defending the Constitution, not Mr. Trump’s actions.

“It is not wrong because President Trump is right. His call was anything but ‘perfect’ and his reference to the Bidens was highly inappropriate. It is not wrong because the House has no legitimate reason to investigate the Ukrainian controversy. The use of military aid for a quid pro quo to investigate one’s political opponent, if proven, can be an impeachable offense,” he says.

He later adds, “No, it is wrong because this is not how an American president should be impeached. For two years, members of this Committee have declared that criminal and impeachable acts were established for everything from treason to conspiracy to obstruction. However, no action was taken to impeach. Suddenly, just a few weeks ago, the House announced it would begin an impeachment inquiry and push for a final vote in just a matter of weeks.”

The impeachment case stems from a July 25 phone call in which Mr. Trump pressed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky for a “favor” in investigating former Vice President Joseph R. Biden and Ukraine meddling in the 2016 election.

A whistleblower, who is believed to be a CIA official assigned to the White House, accused the president of abusing his power for personal gain on the call, including withholding $391 million of U.S. military aid from Ukraine as leverage.

A rough transcript of the call the White House released in late September did not show the president present a quid pro quo deal for the investigations, but Democrats have argued the threat was understood and part of an ongoing pressure campaign of “shadow” foreign policy conducted by Mr. Trump’s private lawyer, former New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani.

The quid pro quo, a Latin term meaning a transaction of “this for that,” is the crux of the Democrats’ case that Mr. Trump abused his Oval Office power.

The most incriminating testimony yet in the inquiry came from Gordon Sondland, the ambassador to the European Union, who said he offered a quid pro quo of a prized White House visit for the newly-elected Mr. Zelensky in exchange for the investigations. But Mr. Sondland said he “presumed” that was what Mr. Trump wanted.

In his only conversation with the president about it, Mr. Trump told him that there was “no quid pro quo,” he testified.

None of the witnesses in the impeachment inquiry linked the holdup of military assistance to the investigations or provided a reason for the holdup. The aid was delayed for about two months, before the money started to flow to Ukraine on Sept. 11, two days after the Inspector General of the Intelligence Community informed Congress of the whistleblower complaint.

Mr. Trump has acknowledged that he wanted an investigation into alleged corruption involving Mr. Biden and his son Hunter, who landed a high-paying job on the board of Ukraine natural gas company Burisma Holdings in 2014. At the time, his father was the point man for Obama White House policy in the country, which is notorious for corruption, especially in the energy industry.

The elder Mr. Biden recently boasted of forcing Ukraine leaders to fire the country’s chief prosecutor in spring 2016 by threatening to block a $1 billion U.S. loan guarantee. The prosecutor was widely viewed as not doing enough to combat corruption. But the prosecutor, Viktor Shokin, also had looked into corruption allegations against Burisma and Mykola Zlochevsky, the Ukraine oligarch running the company.

Mr. Trump also wanted Ukraine to look into a missing Democratic National Committee server that was hacked by Russia during the 2016 presidential campaigns. An American cybersecurity company called CrowdStrike examined the server to probe the hack but the server disappeared before it got to the FBI.

Mr. Trump subscribes to an unsubstantiated theory that the server ended up in Ukraine.

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