George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley has a knack for breaking down complex matters into clear and understandable verbiage.
The professor did so in his testimony last week before a House committee conducting an impeachment hearing into President Trump. And he did so again in an op-ed piece on Monday, just a day before House leaders announced two articles of impeachment against Trump.
The first article claims Trump abused his power by urging Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky to conduct a investigation into a company connected to Joe Biden’s son, Hunter. The second article alleges the president obstructed Congress by refusing to comply with subpoenas for documents and testimony issued by House Democrats.
Using a trending news story as a jumping off point — the banana duct-taped to a wall that sold for $120,000 in a Miami art show — Turley broke it all down.
“Frankly, when I look at the House efforts to impeach President Trump, I see a banana taped to a wall. As others coo over the power and evidence of the report, I continue to look around scratching my head, wondering why others don’t see the obvious gaps and conflicts. Yes, we’ve heard disturbing accounts, but they are surrounded by contested facts,” Turley wrote in the Los Angeles Times.
Extending the metaphor, Turley said, “the Democratic case is an exercise in pointillism,” in which the case against Trump forms a picture only when “viewed from a distance.” But he concluded that the three other instances of impeachment were pure realism.
“Past presidential impeachments were far more Rockwellian — literal, richly detailed, non-abstract. In all three previous cases — those of Andrew Johnson, Bill Clinton and Richard Nixon — criminal acts had been clearly established and the facts surrounding them were widely accepted,” he wrote.
This would not matter if the non-criminal acts were clear and uncontested. They are not. The most serious impeachable act raised by the Democrats is abuse of power, a legitimate basis for impeachment as I stated in both the Clinton and Trump impeachment hearings. But in inexplicably rushing to an impeachment vote, the House is foregoing the subpoenaing of key witnesses who could shed light on potential abuse of power, including former national security advisor John Bolton and acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney. Instead, the Democrats insisted we should go forward on “inferences” or interpretations rather than delay further. Yet I have looked at that banana taped to the wall from all angles, and I just don’t see how it clearly establishes a quid pro quo.
In his testimony last week, Turley said Democrats rushing headlong into impeachment were bypassing the third branch of government.
“I can’t emphasize this enough, and I’ll say it just one more time. 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’re doing precisely what you’re criticizing the president for doing. We have a third branch that deals with conflicts of the other two branches. And what comes out of there and what you do with it is the very definition of legitimacy,” he told lawmakers.
Afterward, Turley and his wife got death threats — and so did his dog.
“I get it. You are mad. The president is mad. My Republican friends are mad. My Democratic friends are mad. My wife is mad. My kids are mad. Even my dog seems mad, and Luna is a Goldendoodle and they don’t get mad,” Turley told lawmakers.
In an interview on CBS on Monday, host Norah O’Donnell said that Turley “did talk about them in your testimony, to be fair, though.”
“Yeah, but who would shoot a Goldendoodle?” Turley said. “Maybe a Shih Tzu, but not a Goldendoodle.”