GOP witness to say Trump impeachment would set a ‘dangerous precedent’

George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley, the only witness at Wednesday’s impeachment hearing to be invited by Republicans, argues in his opening statement that Democrats have not produced the evidence to justify impeaching President Trump.

Turley, a professor of public interest law, says in his lengthy statement to the House Judiciary Committee that an impeachment would be based on the “thinnest evidentiary record.”

“If the House proceeds solely on the Ukrainian allegations, this impeachment would stand out among modern impeachments as the shortest proceeding, with the thinnest evidentiary record, and the narrowest grounds ever used to impeach a president,” Turley says in his prepared testimony.

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Turley, who is also a contributor to The Hill, added that if this impeachment went through, it would set a “dangerous precedent” for future presidents in an increasingly partisan political environment.

Turley is one of four witnesses to testify on Wednesday. The other three constitutional experts, all invited to testify by Democrats, are arguing that there is evidence to impeach Trump. 

Turley in his statement asked the committee to consider whether this impeachment would be considered fair if the president was Democratic. 

“We are all mad and where has it taken us?” he asked. “Will a slipshod impeachment make us less mad or will it only give an invitation for the madness to follow in every future administration?”

He said the way House Democrats have approached impeaching Trump is “wrong” because it was put together too quickly with “a relatively small number of witnesses with largely second-hand knowledge of the position.”

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“In this age of rage, many are appealing for us to simply put the law aside and ‘just do it’ like this is some impulse-buy Nike sneaker,” his statement reads. 

“However, the legal definitions and standards that I have addressed in my testimony are the very thing dividing rage from reason,” he added.

This impeachment would contrast from the other three proceedings in U.S. history because it would be based on a case “without a clear criminal act,” Turley states.
 
He said the criminal charges being tied to the Ukraine controversy are “highly questionable from a legal standpoint.”
 
Turley further argued that Trump’s efforts to investigate Ukrainian involvement in election interference are “clueless” but “not corrupt.” 
 
He called Trump’s request that the Ukrainian president investigate former Vice President Joe Biden “highly inappropriate” but not proof of bribery. 
 
“Again, the issue is not whether these comments are correct but whether they are corrupt,” he said in the testimony. “In my view, there is no case law that would support a claim of corrupt intent in such comments to support a bribery charge.”
 
The House Intelligence Committee report released Tuesday argues that the president abused his power, in part by seeking to get Ukraine to investigate Biden, a political rival to Trump. It says Trump was seeking to hurt Biden and influence the 2020 presidential race. 
 
Turley also criticized the House Democrats for not releasing the expected articles of impeachment saying he is asked to provide analysis “while being left in the dark.” 
 
Read Turley’s testimony here.

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Written by Alan Smith

Alan Smith

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