DIGENOVA: Jonathan Turley Knocked The Wheels Off Impeachment

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Joe DiGenova Former US Attorney
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California Rep. Adam Schiff’s impeachment case is “wafer thin,” “based on the thinnest possible evidentiary record,” and is “one of the thinnest records ever to go forward on impeachment,” according to George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley. The constantly-shifting allegations against President Trump do “not meet any reasonable interpretation” of the various crimes they’ve cited.

That hardly sounds as though “the facts are undisputed,” as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi would have us believe. It is, however, Turley’s professional assessment, provided in his testimony before the House Judiciary Committee. It was a systematic dismantling of the Democrats’ invented impeachment narrative.

Turley’s fact-based refutation of the left’s impeachment messaging — especially the latest talking point about the supposed “urgency” of removing the president from office — is precisely what Pelosi didn’t want the American people to hear. This is what it looks like when the wheels come off the wagon.

It’s now abundantly clear that Pelosi’s unorthodox decision to have the House Intelligence Committee spearhead the impeachment effort, with the Judiciary Committee serving as little more than a rubber stamp, was designed to keep Representative Jerry Nadler on the sidelines for as long as possible while Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff presided over a show trial for the television cameras. Schiff has many flaws of his own, but at least Pelosi could count on him to make sure that the Republicans wouldn’t be able to call any witnesses who might lend credence to their defense of the president. (RELATED: diGenova: The President Is About To Get CNN Legally Designated As Fake News)

Chairman Nadler didn’t want a level playing field for this latest act of the impeachment show, but he lacked the audacity to conduct his hearings in as blatantly biased a manner as Schiff. So while Nadler made sure that his Party got to call three impeachment-supporting law professors — including the unhinged leftist Pamela Karlan — to help them make their case to the American people, he only allowed the Republicans to call a single witness.

As it turned out, though, one witness was all the GOP needed to demolish the Democrats’ politically motivated effort to overturn the 2016 election.

Unlike the three witnesses selected by the Democrats, all of whom publicly opposed Trump long before the current impeachment drama began, Turley wasn’t there as a partisan hack. As Turley himself related in his opening statement, he voted against Donald Trump in 2016, and in the 1990s, he voted for Bill Clinton and Ralph Nader. For decades, the mainstream media have regularly referred to him as a “liberal Democrat” and a “liberal law professor.” Over the course of his career, Turley has represented extreme-left protestors and advocated for a “socially liberal agenda.”

Much the Democrats’ dismay, however, Turley’s views on impeachment are based on the law, not his personal beliefs. In 1998, that meant he made extensive, nuanced arguments acknowledging that President Bill Clinton’s alleged perjury before a federal grand jury might rise to the level of impeachable conduct. Now, 21 years later, he has made an equally persuasive argument that “Ukrainegate” does not meet that threshold.

“I have been highly critical of President Trump, his policies, and his rhetoric, in dozens of columns,” Turley wrote in his opening statement. Unlike the Democrats, however, Turley is capable of distinguishing between his personal politics and the law, testifying that “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.”

Just as Nadler and the other Democrats intended, the other witnesses adopted an impossibly broad interpretation of what constitutes a constitutional “high crime or misdemeanor.” What they evidently didn’t anticipate was how quickly that interpretation would fall apart under scrutiny.

Turley was able to expose the Democrats’ legal theory as the wishful thinking it was, just as he had done when Adam Schiff first began using the term “bribery” to describe the president’s alleged conduct. “Bribery” is not, as Schiff and the Democrats’ witnesses have claimed, some infinitely expansive category that encompasses any action they consider “not in the nation’s interest.” If that were the case, impeachment would amount to a form of political blackmail whereby the House majority could usurp the president’s policymaking prerogatives.

As the House Intelligence Committee’s impeachment hearings, Republicans actually had to remind their Democratic colleagues — as well as several supposed “experts” — that the president of the United States sets American foreign policy. The “interagency consensus” within the federal bureaucracy does not. Yet, during an inquisition supposedly looking for evidence of bribery, the witnesses focused their attention on complaining that President Trump pursued policies that unelected bureaucrats such as themselves did not personally support.

Karlan’s testimony followed the same pattern, raising objections based not on the law, but her own belief in the prudence of American support for Ukraine. She herself admitted that “quid pro quo” is irrelevant to her conclusion that the president ought to be impeached. Simply asking for Hunter Biden’s shady business dealings to be investigated is, in her view, impeachable, simply because his father is running against President Trump.

According to Karlan, “The president would still have committed an impeachable act, even if he had been refused right there on the phone,” merely for expressing a desire to solve the mystery of why an indisputably corrupt Ukrainian gas company paid a U.S. vice president’s son $50,000 a month to do a job for which he had no known qualifications.

Turley was also able to make mincemeat of the Democrats’ repeated assertion that President Trump committed an impeachable offense by contesting their demands that he surrender executive privilege.

The president and his officials have every right to challenge Democrats’ subpoenas and requests in court — this matter should be settled according to an unbiased reading of the law, not Adam Schiff’s opinion. Without that recourse to the third branch, the entire concept of separation of powers is put in jeopardy.

As Turley aptly put it, “If you impeach a president, if you make a high crime and misdemeanor out of going to the courts, it is an abuse of power. It’s your abuse of power. You are doing precisely what you’re criticizing the president for doing.”

There’s a reason the Judiciary Committee Democrats asked Turley so few questions after waiting so long for their moment in the spotlight. With every answer he gave, their case for impeachment disintegrated further, exposing the partisan hatred that has always been at the core of this coup.

Joseph diGenova served as the United States attorney for the District of Columbia from 1983 to 1988 and as an independent counsel. He is a founding partner of Washington, D.C. law firm diGenova & Toensing, LLP.

The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.