Republicans' Impeachment Witness Is Getting Dragged for His Very Different Standard for Impeachment in 1998

Salwan Georges/The Washington Post via Getty Images

The House Judiciary Committee, in its public impeachment hearing against President Donald Trump on Wednesday, consulted four constitutional scholars for greater insight to the legal implications of the President's Ukraine scandal—and whether they merit impeachment.

Three witnesses, called by Democrats, each made compelling arguments for the articles of impeachment with which Trump could be charged.

George Washington University professor Jonathan Turley—invited by Republicans—was the lone dissenter.


Turley told lawmakers that impeaching Trump soon would be setting the standard too for impeachment, inviting future Congresses to impeach flippantly. He also said that the evidence against Trump—including multiple testimonies and text messages—wasn't enough to confirm that Trump withheld military aid from Ukraine to pressure its leaders into announcing an investigation into his political rival, former Vice President Joe Biden.

Now, Turley's opinion in a similar hearing from the 1998 impeachment inquiry against former President Bill Clinton is resurfacing for all the wrong reasons.


In his opening statement against Clinton, Turley said:

"In a government of laws, existence of the government will be imperiled if it fails to observe the law scrupulously. Our Government is the potent, the omnipresent teacher. For good or for ill, it teaches the whole people by its example. Crime is contagious. If the Government becomes a lawbreaker; it breeds contempt for law; it invites every man to become a law unto himself; it invites anarchy."

That statement was more in line with the positions of the Democratic witnesses against Trump: that withholding crucial aid in exchange for political investigations weakens the United States by tarnishing its reliability, its perception abroad, its legitimacy as a democracy, and its very national security.

Lying about it and withholding information from a body designed for oversight of the President sets a dangerous precedent as well.

Turley went on to say in the 1998 hearing:

"The allegations against President Clinton go to the very heart of the legitimacy of his office and the integrity of the political system. As an individual, a president may seek spiritual redemption in the company of friends and family. Constitutional redemption, however, is found only in the company of representatives of all three branches in the well of the Senate."

It wasn't just in 1998 that Turley's position was different, but in 2014 as well.

Turley's position in an op-ed that year was that an impeachable offense doesn't have to be a violation of criminal law—a reversal from his words to the Judiciary Committee on Wednesday.

People had trouble considering Turley unbiased after his evolution on impeachment was uncovered.






House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) announced Thursday morning that she's asked the House to move forward with articles of impeachment.

MSNBC

As millions of Americans commemorated the legacy of civil rights icon Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., presidential counsellor Kellyanne Conway railed against the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump, set to begin in the Senate on Tuesday.

The President, who leaves for the World Economic Forum in Davos on Monday night, has no public plans to commemorate Martin Luther King Day, prompting reporters to ask Kellyanne how he intended to celebrate.

Keep reading...
HBO

The long-awaited tenth season of HBO's Curb Your Enthusiasm premiered this week, and the show's creator Larry David wasted no time in skewering current events.

One of the premiere episode's standout moments came when Larry tried on a red Make America Great Again cap—the signature accessory for supporters of President Donald Trump

Keep reading...
Drew Angerer/Getty Images // Stephen F. Somerstein/Getty Images

President Donald Trump's reaction to white supremacists and neo-Nazis in the aftermath of the Charlottesville riots hasn't been forgotten, even two years later.

The President infamously asserted that there were "very fine people on both sides" at the Unite the Right rally, where white supremacists protested the removal of a confederate statue. The ensuing violence resulted in the murder of counter-protestor Heather Heyer.

Keep reading...
ABC News

The Senate is gearing up for a historic impeachment trial against President Donald Trump, who withheld congressionally approved aid from Ukraine on the condition that its leaders announce investigations against his political opponent, former Vice President Joe Biden.

Days after taking an oath of impartiality, some Republican senators are making the rounds to defend Trump's actions.

Keep reading...
Erik Voake/Getty Images for Hulu via Getty Images // Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Amendment 4—a Florida referendum restoring voting rights to former felons—passed in 2018 with 65% of the vote, paving the way for an additional 1.4 million voters in the swing state.

Republican Governor Ron DeSantis immediately took steps to undermine the public will by signing into law a bill that would only restore voting rights to felons who fully pay all fees and fines imposed after leaving prison.

Under Florida law, court debts left unpaid after three months are referred to private debt collectors, who can then tack on a surcharge of up to 40%.

Keep reading...
John Sommers II/Getty Images

A day after Senators took an oath of impartiality in the impeachment trial against President Donald Trump, the President eagerly announced the team of lawyers who will be defending him.

Two names on the list stood out.

Keep reading...