Comment Of The Day On The Testimony Of Prof. Jonathan Turley

This is the first of three Comments of the Day I will post  authored by Glenn Logan. Glenn was an accomplished blogger himself before he hung up his blogging shoes, and here he among the  longest participating commenters Ethics Alarms has, and, obviously, an outstanding one. He has been on an impressive run, and I realized that I better catch up. All three of Glenn’s COTDs relate to impeachment (as well as several other excellent comments).

Here is Glenn’s first Comment of the Day, on Professor Turley’s testimony on impeachment, Part II, You can find the links to the entire statement here.

The crux of Turley’s argument is that the process has not discovered objective proof of the impeachable conduct alleged, assuming arguendo that the conduct alleged actually qualifies in a substantive way for the Constitutional requirement of “…high crimes and misdemeanors.”

Setting aside the intentions of the House Democrats and the Judiciary Committee, this entire episode has become an abuse of process, Kabuki theater designed to produce an impeachment trial. As to why, well, there are surely lots of plausible explanations and even on-the-record statements suggesting answers, but ultimately it doesn’t matter. What does matter is what future Houses will conclude from these proceedings, and I think that is largely driven by what happens in the 2020 election.

If it turns out that the Republicans win big because of the broad rejection by Americans of this entire process, the lesson will be that the wages of orchestrating an inevitably failed impeachment without broad political support from the electorate are punishment at the ballot box. The Republicans learned this lesson in the Clinton impeachment, and you would think the Democrats would have marked it well also.

But many of us suppose this current train wreck is being conducted by the Democratic base, who manifestly loathe Trump and would happily see him executed by firing squad, or hanged. If the Democratic politicians fail to deliver even a pro-forma impeachment of such a loathsome President, the Democrats (perhaps rightly) fear the base will abandon conventional political campaigns and go “full commie,” a situation which will fracture the party and perhaps reduce it to rump status.

So assuming that possibility is what is driving this, the impeachment not only makes sense for the Democrats, but also might be, in a weird and convoluted way, a net positive for the country despite the partisan and almost fait accompli nature of it. By satiating the Democrat base’s blood-lust even with impeachment and a failed removal, the Democrats preserve enough good will to avoid running far-Left candidates for every office in the face of an aroused partisan base, which would likely result in minority status in congress and a loss of the presidency. Keeping the Democrats as a viable check on the Republicans is a desirable outcome, as we have seen how easily power corrupts political parties when they have too much of it.

Unfortunately, I’m not really sure that’s what’s driving it. It could be even more base, a purely partisan political attempt to damage the President in order to weaken him for the election. Turley seems to think this is the case also, reading between the lines, but he works hard to hew close to the facts and avoid the politics. His conclusions are that the facts supporting impeachment don’t rise to any reasonable standard of proof you can name — mostly hearsay and political conclusions by federal career employees, and allegations by political enemies of the president absent any supporting evidence.

Which leaves us with one big question — what will happen in the Senate? Facially, it will also be fait accompli, but much depends upon the rules, if any, that get set, and the consequences thereof. One or two Republican rebels could do exactly the same thing as in the Clinton impeachment, and essentially forbid most exculpatory (in the Clinton case, damning) evidence from being presented, as Turley’s historical ruminations so ominously remind us. Even though there is no realistic chance of an actual conviction, such an eventuality might produce a significant number of Republican defections for conviction, say as many as five or six.

That might give the Democrats exactly what they appear to want — bipartisan political damage delivered in the middle of an election that produces a desirable electoral outcome for the Democrats, and a model for future hostile congressional majorities. That would be very bad for the country, indeed.


4 thoughts on “Comment Of The Day On The Testimony Of Prof. Jonathan Turley

  1. Democrats need a Senate not guilty verdict to motivate their base. So all will proceed regardless of merit or abuse of process. This whole thing is built upon tarnish, to be followed by accusing the Senate of looking the other way despite Trump’s alleged egregious crimes.

  2. Yeah, Glenn was firing on all cylinders with his responses in the Turley pieces. Very good thoughts for sure!

    Adimageim’s comment that “the whole thing is built upon tarnish” is probably true, and a rather depressing thought. If impeachment, grave and measured a process as it is supposed to be, is diluted to little more than an oversized negative campaign advertisement (as this one has), then it will have lost much of its power. And sadly, when Republican legislators have to eventually deal with a Democratic President they can’t stomach, we run the risk of being forced to watch this sad farce play out again. Even worse, should a President – of either party – actually commit “high crimes and misdemeanors” worthy of impeachment, the citizenry won’t take it at all seriously. Instead, they may just chalk it up to more political theater.

    I hope – sincerely hope – that Republicans are mostly learning from Democrats what NOT to do when it comes to impeaching a President.

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