Saturday, December 7, 2019

GateHouse: Turley: Jumping in bed with Ukraine not impeachable offense

Matthew T. Mangino
GateHouse Media
December 6, 2019
George Washington University Law Professor Jonathan Turley testified this week before the Judiciary Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives, relative to the impeachment of President Donald Trump.
There were four legal scholars called to testify. Three selected by the Democrats and Turley by the GOP. Turly tweeted the day after the hearing, “My call for greater civility and dialogue may have been the least successful argument I made to the committee. Before I finished my testimony, my home and office were inundated with threatening messages and demands that I be fired from GW.”
Why would Turley’s phones blow-up after his testimony? Some will say that the partisan divide is so wide that common ground is a thing of the past. In the politics of the 21st century, “You are either with me or against me.”
However, could the animus toward Turley have some merit? You would expect that a legal scholar may disagree with his or her colleague’s interpretation of the Constitution, but their position should be consistent.
A review of Turley’s position regarding impeachment seems to be inconsistent. In Turley’s opening statement before the House Judiciary Committee regarding the Trump impeachment he said:
 “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.”
In 1998, Turley testified in front of the same committee during the impeachment hearings of President Bill Clinton. Turley said, as reported by The Nation, “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.”
In 1998, according to Turley, Clinton lost his legal legitimacy to govern, because he lied about a sexual liaison with a young female staffer.
Twenty-one years later, Turley is concerned that a president who withheld military aid for a foreign government, in exchange for the foreign government conducting a dubious investigation of the president’s political opponent, does not rise to an impeachable offense.
It is easy to understand why people are calling for him to step down from his position at George Washington University.
In the hyper-partisan world of American politics, we expect elected officials to ignore facts, or the law, to advance their political agenda - be they Democrats or Republicans.
Should we accept, with a shrug of the shoulders, a member of academia who adjusts his interpretation of the Constitution to advance the position of a public official or political party?
Turley said in his opening remarks to the committee, “I have spent decades writing about impeachment and presidential powers as an academic and as a legal commentator. My academic work reflects the bias of a Madisonian scholar.”
Turley was referring to James Madison, America’s fourth president, and author of the Federalist Papers, along with Alexander Hamilton and John Jay.
John Avlon, a CNN senior political analyst, recently wrote, that Madison argued in his “Notes of Debates in the Federal Convention,” “for the necessity of impeachment because elections may not be enough to constrain a chief executive. And the influence of foreign powers in our domestic affairs - as well as corruption and loss of capacity might be ‘fatal to the Republic.’”
What is most troubling is that Turley appears to invoke Madison when it suits his political interests.
Matthew T. Mangino is of counsel with Luxenberg, Garbett, Kelly & George P.C. His book “The Executioner’s Toll, 2010” was released by McFarland Publishing. You can reach him at and follow him on Twitter at @MatthewTMangino.
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