George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley has been “highly critical” of President Trump and has consistently voted for Democratic presidents, but he has a strong warning for the House Judiciary Committee on the first day of its impeachment hearings: While President Trump’s July 25 phone call with his Ukrainian counterpart was “anything but perfect,” the Democrats have simply failed to obtain the adequate evidence to make a case for such a serious action as removing the sitting president of the United States. To push this impeachment forward, Turley warns, is “dangerous.”
Only the lone Republican-selected witness allowed by the Democrats to testify Wednesday, Turley — a self-described Trump critic and Democratic voter — will push back agains the Democrats’ impeachment campaign.
The impeachment “is not wrong because President Trump is right,” says Turley in his 53-page opening statement. While Trump’s famous call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky was “anything but perfect,” Turley argues, and a case for impeachment “could be made,” “it cannot be made on this record,” as all of the evidence has been second-hand at best.
I would like to start, perhaps incongruously, with a statement of three irrelevant facts. First, I am not a supporter of President Trump. I voted against him in 2016 and I have previously voted for Presidents Clinton and Obama. Second, I have been highly critical of President Trump, his policies, and his rhetoric, in dozens of columns. Third, I have repeatedly criticized his raising of the investigation of the Hunter Biden matter with the Ukrainian president. These points are not meant to curry favor or approval. Rather they are meant to drive home a simple point: 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.