Impeachment Hearings Go To Law School

Yesterday's hearing before the House Judiciary Committee did a good job of explaining how the facts of the Ukraine scandal meet the Constitution's definition of impeachable offenses.

Rather than fact witnesses unveiling new evidence against the President, yesterday’s first impeachment hearing before the House Judiciary Committee was far more esoteric. The day-long hearing featured four respected law professors from around the country addressing Congress and the nation on the history and meaning of the impeachment provisions of the Constitution and how they should be applied to the facts of the charges against President Trump and his dealings with Ukraine:

WASHINGTON — The House of Representatives on Wednesday opened a critical new phase of the impeachment proceedings against President Trump, featuring legal scholars vigorously debating whether his conduct and the available evidence rose to the constitutional threshold necessary for his removal from office.

In a daylong hearing convened by the Judiciary Committee, three constitutional scholars invited by Democrats testified that evidence of Mr. Trump’s efforts to pressure Ukraine for political gain clearly met the definition of an impeachable abuse of power. They said his defiance of Congress’s investigative requests was further grounds for charging him.

A fourth scholar invited by Republicans disagreed, warning that Democrats were barreling forward with a shoddy case for the president’s removal based on inadequate evidence, and risked damaging the integrity of a sacred process enshrined in the Constitution.

The spirited exchange unfolded as the Judiciary Committee began determining which impeachment charges to lodge against Mr. Trump based on an investigation by the House Intelligence Committee. The president abused his power, sought to subvert an American election and endangered national security when he pressured Ukraine for political favors, Democrats said.

(…)

Invoking arguments between the framers of the Constitution and impeachment precedents dating to monarchical England, the scholars dissected the quality of the evidence before the House and how to define at least one possible impeachment charge, bribery.

The three law professors invited by Democrats said that Mr. Trump’s behavior was not only an egregious abuse of his power for personal gain, but the textbook definition of the kind of conduct that the nation’s founders sought to guard against when they drafted the impeachment clause of the Constitution.

“If what we’re talking about is not impeachable, then nothing is impeachable,” Michael J. Gerhardt, a professor at the University of North Carolina, told the panel. “This is precisely the misconduct that the framers created the Constitution, including impeachment, to protect against.”

But a fourth witness, Jonathan Turley, a law professor at George Washington University, cautioned House Democrats against rushing into an impeachment based on an incomplete set of facts and overly broad standards. He conceded that the president’s conduct may have been impeachable, but said Democrats risked tainting the validity of the Constitution’s only remedy for grave presidential misconduct outside an election.

“I am concerned about lowering impeachment standards to fit a paucity of evidence and an abundance of anger,” he said. “To impeach a president on such a record would be to expose every future president to the same type of inchoate impeachment.”

In offering the argument, Mr. Turley, who said he had not voted for Mr. Trump and did not condone his behavior, handed Republicans what could be a potent counterpoint to put to a divided public.

(…)

Noah Feldman, a professor at Harvard, argued that Mr. Trump’s decision to withhold a White House meeting and military assistance from Ukraine while he demanded political favors from its president was a classic impeachable abuse of power.

“The essential definition of high crimes and misdemeanors is the abuse of office,” he said. “The framers considered the office of the presidency to be a public trust.”

Pamela S. Karlan, a Stanford law professor, went further, arguing that Mr. Trump’s actions toward Ukraine could constitute another offense outlined in the Constitution: bribery. She defined that offense as “when an official solicited, received or offered a personal favor or benefit to influence official action.”

“If you conclude that he asked for the investigation of Vice President Biden and his son for political reasons, that is to aid his re-election, then, yes, you have bribery here,” Ms. Karlan said.

But Mr. Turley argued that Democrats were tarnishing the very concept of impeachment by sloppily applying what should be an ironclad set of standards. He said Democrats and the other witnesses were interpreting the concept of bribery too broadly to describe Mr. Trump’s conduct.

“This isn’t improvisational jazz — close enough is not good enough,” Mr. Turley said. “If you’re going to accuse a president of bribery, you need to make it stick, because you’re trying to remove a duly elected president of the United States.”

Mr. Turley also disputed that Mr. Trump could be fairly charged with obstruction of Congress. Without going to court to ask a judge to enforce their subpoenas, he argued, Democrats had a case that lacked important validation and could even be an abuse of the House’s power.

More from The Washington Post:

And now, here come the academics: Four of them, trailing their curricula vitae like billowing robes, ready to act as counsel for the Founding Fathers, who remain very dead but continue to haunt us. What would the founders think of us? What would they think of President Donald J. Trump, and the effort to impeach him?

To find out, the House Committee on the Judiciary held a sort of seance Wednesday.

“Some day we will no longer be alive, and we’ll go wherever it is we go — the good place or the other place,” said one of the Democrats’ witnesses, Noah Feldman, a professor at Harvard Law School. “And, you know, we may meet there [James] Madison and [Alexander] Hamilton, and they will ask us: ‘When the president of the United States acted to corrupt the structure of the republic, what did you do?’ ”

(…)

After last month’s testimony from bow-tied diplomats and stone-faced bureaucrats — “fact witnesses” who actually saw or heard Trump’s inciting behavior — the impeachment process has reached the peer-review phase. During this hearing, professors referenced a 1640 sermon by John Winthrop and a 1792 edition of Samuel Johnson’s dictionary.

There were multiple odes to forgotten founder William Richardson Davie, the onetime governor of North Carolina who argued fiercely for an impeachment provision in drafts of the Constitution. Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) had in front of him a tattered college copy of the Federalist Papers, scrawled with marginalia.

(…)

Nadler’s three witnesses were in agreement, at least on one main point: Trump has committed impeachable offenses. Their reviews were scathing.

The president’s conditioning of aid to Ukraine “clearly constitutes impeachable high crimes and misdemeanors under the Constitution,” said Feldman, of Harvard.

“What has happened in the case today is something that I do not think we have ever seen before: a president who has doubled down on violating his oath,” said Karlan, of Stanford.

“This president has attacked each of the Constitution’s safeguards against establishing a monarchy in this country,” said Michael Gerhardt, a professor at the University of North Carolina School of Law.

During a 10-minute break in the hearing, Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Tex.) called the proceeding “somber and sober.” Collins called it “very esoteric.” After the committee broke for votes, Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Tex.) used his five minutes to unspool a monologue about how “the only thing that is disputed more than the facts of this case is the statement that the facts are undisputed.”

For those of you who haven’t been to law school (or, as I call you, sane people) or taken a Constitutional history class in college, yesterday’s hearing was a rough approximation of what that experience was like without having to take an exam. The only difference is that this time, it was the professors who were being asked the questions rather than the ones asking them in their usual Socratic manner. In any case, I found that all four of the participants on the panel did an excellent job of presenting their arguments.

This includes George Washington Law Professor Jonathan Turley, who argued against the proposition that the facts regarding the Ukraine matter as we know them today are sufficient to justify what would amount to a wholly partisan impeachment of a President. Obviously I am somewhat biased in my evaluation of the arguments these professors made since I’ve already concluded that President Trump’s actions regarding Ukraine constitute both violations of existing Federal laws and offenses justifying his impeachment and removal from office. However, in the end, I found the arguments made by the three professors who argued in favor of impeachment to be more persuasive.

In different ways, the three professors called by House Democrats — Noah Feldman from Harvard Law School, Pamela Karlan from Stanford Law School, and Michael Gerhardt from the University of North Carolina Law School — reached back to the founding of the Republic to explain what the impeachment clause meant and how it should be applied to this situation. Of primary importance in that regard is the fact that the biggest concern that the Founders had when they created the Presidency was that a President would fall under the influence of one of the more dominant foreign powers of the day, which at the time consisted of Great Britain and France, and become susceptible to bribery or foreign influence to commit official acts in exchange for some payment or favor. This was an especially valid concern at the time given that the new republic was especially weak compared to those dominant powers.

Today, of course, the reverse is true and it is the United States that is the dominant power, but that doesn’t mean that the threat of foreign influence over domestic politics doesn’t still exist. As we saw in 2016 and the years that have followed, the threat of foreign influence is more real than ever before. Additionally, though the tables are reversed, the prospect exists that a President could use the dominant power and influence of the United States as a tool to influence domestic politics by soliciting something of value or seeking a bribe from a foreign power.

As Feldman, Karlan, and Gerhardt pointed out in their testimony, this is exactly what President Trump did in connection with Ukraine. As the House Intelligence Committee convincingly established in its report, President Trump and his cohorts sought to use the twin enticements of military aid and improved relations with the United States to force it to investigate the President’s political enemies and chase down non-existent evidence supporting a conspiracy theory that puts Ukrainian President Zelensky’s predecessor, rather than the Russians, in the center of an effort to interfere in the 2016 election. As the three professors argued, this is exactly the kind of activity that the Founding Fathers were concerned about when the drafted the impeachment clause and provided that the President could be removed for “treason, bribery, and other high crimes and misdemeanors,

At one point, Professor Karlan drove this home with an analogy in which a Governor of a state devastated by a hurricane was told by a sitting President that he’d be glad to send Federal assistance if the Governor agreed to announce an investigation of one of the President’s political opponents. This is basically what Trump did here and, while the relationship between the Federal Government and the states is obviously different than the relationship between the United States and Ukraine, the analogy nonetheless drives home in any easy-to-understand manner just why what the President did was not only wrong but an obvious abuse of Presidential power.

For his part, Turley, who was essentially the “Republican” witness for the hearing even though he is by no means a conservative in either the political or judicial sense, argued that the facts as we know them are not sufficient to establish the existence of impeachable offenses and that House Democrats were moving too quickly for a process as important as the impeachment of a President. Among the legal arguments that Turley made, the strongest was the idea that the President’s conduct did not necessarily violate existing law and therefore could not be said to rise to the level of impeachable conduct.

The problem with this argument is two-fold. First, as one of the three Democratic witnesses pointed out, the Federal laws that Turley refers to did not exist at the time the Constitution was drafted. The Federal statute against bribery, for example, wasn’t added to the United States Code until the 1870s, for example. Therefore, it’s disingenuous to argue that “bribery” as it is set forth in the Constitution must match the federal statute when that statute would not exist for a century after the Constitution was drafted. Instead, they argued, one must look to the understanding of what “bribery” and “high crimes and misdemeanors” meant at the time the Constitution was drafted. Based on those criteria, it is clear that what the President did and attempted to do here is exactly what the Founders had in mind when they put the impeachment clause in the Constitution.

The second problem with Turley’s argument that the President’s actions don’t violate existing statutes is simply not true. As I have argued before, there are at least three Federal statutes that seem to cover what the President attempted to do vis a vis Ukraine.

Not the least of these is 50 U.S.C. 30121(2) which states that “It shall be unlawful for… a person to solicit, accept, or receive a contribution or donation [of a thing of value] from a foreign national.” This is exactly what t the President did when he asked the President of Ukraine to assist in uncovering damaging information Additionally, there would be potential violations of 18 U.S.C. 371(1) which states:

If two or more persons conspire either to commit any offense against the United States, or to defraud the United States, or any agency thereof in any manner or for any purpose, and one or more of such persons do any act to effect the object of the conspiracy, each shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than five years, or both.

If the latest allegations are true then it’s hard to understate what the President is doing here. Just as he did when, in a speech at a campaign rally, he called on Russia to “find” the “30,000 emails” allegedly deleted from Hillary Clinton’s email server, (video here) the President is asking for the help of a foreign government in the context of a Presidential election. In 2016, it was Russia. In 2019, it appears to be Ukraine. Even while Congress is still engaged in an effort to get the information it needs to thoroughly investigate what happened in 2016 and the apparent efforts of the Trump White House to impede the investigation of contacts between the Trump campaign and Russia, as well as other allegations that have been made against this President, we’re now presented with something entirely new, and this time the evidence of the President’s intention to collude with a foreign government to influence an election is blindingly obvious.

The Federal statute regarding bribery, meanwhile, can be found at 18 U.S.C. 201. In its opening section, it sets forth what most people likely think of when they think of bribery, namely situations where private individuals attempt to bribe public officials to commit an official act or a public official accepts a bribe in connection with an official act. However, the statute also provides that it is a violation of the law for a public official to solicit a bribe from any person, whether or not they are a public official. Specifically, this part of the definition of bribery is set forth in 18 USC 201(2):

(2) being a public official or person selected to be a public official, directly or indirectly, corruptly demands, seeks, receives, accepts, or agrees to receive or accept anything of value personally or for any other person or entity, in return for:

(A) being influenced in the performance of any official act;

(B) being influenced to commit or aid in committing, or to collude in, or allow, any fraud, or make opportunity for the commission of any fraud, on the United States; or

(C) being induced to do or omit to do any act in violation of the official duty of such official or person;

Given the evidence that we have before us, it’s easy to see where bribery fits into the equation. The President stands accused, credibly I might add, of seeking a “thing of value” from the President of Ukraine and other Ukrainian officials in exchange for which he would release the military aid already authorized by Congress, schedule a much-wanted White House meeting with the Ukrainian President, and commit other “official acts” in connection with the American relationship with Ukraine. This would constitute a violation of 18 USC 201(2)(A) There also appears to be evidence of violations of Sections 201(2)(B) and (C) to the extent that the President agreed to do these things for fraudulent reasons that were in violation of his official duty to “preserve, protect, and defend” the Constitution and to “take care that the laws are faithfully executed.”

Professor Turley’s second argument regarding the timing of the impeachment process is somewhat more well-founded. In an ideal world, House Democrats would step back and make an effort to get testimony from present and former Trump officials such as Mike Mulvaney, Don McGhan, and John Bolton. Additionally, they would expand the impeachment inquiry to include not just the Ukraine scandal, but also obstruction of justice in connection with the Russia investigation, the payoffs to Trump’s former mistresses on the eve of the 2016 election, the Emoluments Clauses issue, and the fact that the Trump Administration has obstructed justice by denying Congress access to documents and witnesses.

At the same time, as Jennifer Rubin notes, Turley also provided Democrats with ammunition:

Turley made some arguments that frankly do leave one wondering why Republicans thought he would be valuable. For example, Turley acknowledged, “[Trump’s] call was anything but ‘perfect’ and his reference to the Bidens was highly inappropriate.” It was highly “inappropriate” because we do not invite foreign governments to investigate political rivals. The “ask” was in and of itself a serious and impeachable act, especially given Trump’s own statements that he will continue to invite foreign meddling.

Turley also confessed, “The use of military aid for a quid pro quo to investigate one’s political opponent, if proven, can be an impeachable offense.” And we would assume that conditioning a White House meeting desperately needed by an ally could also be an impeachable act. Well, we had multiple witnesses including Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland testify to precisely that. Experienced prosecutors, I am quite certain, could get a conviction under the criminal standard, beyond a reasonable doubt.

Even Turley’s primary excuse for not proceeding to impeachment is helpful to Democrats. They cannot, he says, do a thorough investigation without the testimony of key senior officials. Hmm, doesn’t that mean Trump has obstructed Congress in a way Richard Nixon never did? (Turley incorrectly asserted that Nixon defied court orders; in fact, the third of his impeachment articles referenced refusal to respond to subpoenas.)

Taking all the arguments made by the four scholars, it seems clear that the legal argument that the President committed an impeachable offense is well-established. He did, and it would be irresponsible for the House of Representatives to ignore that fact at this point even if the outcome in the Senate is already foreordained. Waiting for additional evidence to develop additional charges is a persuasive argument, but as several Committee members and pundits on television pointed out yesterday, what the President did essentially calls into question the legitimacy of our elections and the fact that it was the President up for re-election next November who was seeking to undermine the legitimacy of those elections means that the Congress must act now if only to set forth for the public the truth about what this President has done.

It’s not entirely clear where we go from here. There are no further hearings scheduled before the Judiciary Committee until next week when it will hear testimony regarding the recently concluded investigation by the Intelligence Committee. More importantly, there is presently no hearing scheduled for additional fact witnesses. That could change, but given the fact that House Democrats have set the goal of voting on Articles of Impeachment before the Christmas break, it seems unlikely. Instead, we are likely to see the Judiciary Committee move quickly to drafting and voting on Articles of Impeachment and, presuming they are approved, sending those articles to the House floor. All of this means that a Senate trial would take place starting in January and that it could last into February when votes in Iowa and elsewhere start voting for a Democratic nominee. In other words, 2020 is going to start out on a historic footing. And it will only get more interesting from there.

FILED UNDER: Congress, Donald Trump, Impeachment, Law and the Courts, Politicians, U.S. Constitution, US Politics
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. mattbernius says:

    Moving away from the specific testimony and its interpretation (no suprise Doug, we’re in agreement about that), I do think the Democrats missed an opportunity by not including one of a number of conservative-leaning legal scholars who have argued for impeachment in this hearing.

    Yes, they would have been branded as a never-Trumper, but I still think it would have strengthened the optics of their argument.

  2. Hal_10000 says:

    Ironically, I found Turley to the most compelling even though I disagreed with him quite a bit. The others seems to have reached conclusions already whereas he seemed to be more laying out the basics. I agreed with him that calling the Ukraine thing “bribery” is a stretch. But I also agreed with him that you don’t need to go to bribery; the abuse of power alone is impeachable.

    I don’t think the law profs are going to move any needles; the GOP base is not going to be moved by “know-it-all law profs”. But I think it did lay the basis that if Trump did what he is accused of, it is an impeachable offense.

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  3. Kathy says:

    “The emperor is naked!”

    Turley: “But isn’t that a fine suit he’s not wearing?”

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  4. OzarkHillbilly says:

    “I am concerned about lowering impeachment standards to fit a paucity of evidence and an abundance of anger,” he said. “To impeach a president on such a record would be to expose every future president to the same type of inchoate impeachment.”

    In light of the Clinton impeachment, this argument seems more than a little day late and dollar short, to the point of ridiculousness.

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  5. gVOR08 says:

    @Hal_10000:

    I agreed with him that calling the Ukraine thing “bribery” is a stretch.

    If an electrical inspector says, “I will do my official duty (signing off on your wiring) if you do me a favor (slip me 50 bucks).” is that not soliciting a bribe? Trump said, “I will do my official duty (giving you congressionaly mandated aid) if you do me a favor (announce you’re investigating my political rival’s son).” How is this not soliciting a bribe?

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  6. gVOR08 says:

    Martin Longman was not impressed. And I agree with him.

    It wasn’t necessary for the experts to have any opinion about whether Trump had committed any of those offenses, and it certainly wasn’t a good idea to bring in people who have been highly critical of Trump to give their opinions on whether he should be impeached and removed from office.

    The result was a partisan food fight that made the Republicans’ job of obfuscation far too easy.

    The witnesses did provide definitions of the key terms, but that certainly wasn’t the emphasis and their impartiality was easy to question. It was basically a three-to-one battle of witnesses that educated few and persuaded no one.

  7. reid says:

    Kind folks on twitter posted a link to an old Turley article (I think in the Washington Post) where he was much more pro-impeachment in the Obama years. I didn’t become aware of him until the 2000s, but apparently he was also much more pro-impeachment in the ’90s. Hm, funny, that. (Doug, I tried to follow Turley’s blog for awhile, but so many of his posts were typical rightwing rage-inducers about some crazy liberal doing some crazy thing. I think he is a conservative, if not an outright wingnut, deep down.)

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  8. pylon says:

    @reid:

    In fact, Turley argued at the time that Clinton could be impeached for privately lying to staffers.

    “If you decide that certain acts do not rise to impeachable offenses, you will expand the space for executive conduct,” Turley testified in 1998 during Clinton’s impeachment hearings. He added that Clinton’s actions didn’t need to break any laws in order to be considered impeachable conduct.

    “While there’s a high bar for what constitutes grounds for impeachment, an offense does not have to be indictable,” Turley wrote in a 2014 op-ed for the Washington Post. “Serious misconduct or a violation of public trust is enough. And the founders emphasized that impeachments were about what happened in the political arena: involving ‘political crimes and misdemeanors’ and resulting in ‘political punishments.'” https://www.businessinsider.com/republican-witness-jonathan-turley-contradicted-impeachment-testimony-2019-12

  9. JKB says:

    Appears the biggest loser is the reputation of law school. Professor Kingsfield has left the building.

    Doesn’t look like that whole day of testimony moved the ball at all. Each side seems to have hardened.

    Good news is that in a Congressional impeachment, like a “grand jury” but different, comes with personal electoral accountability to the American voters for those who vote on the “written accusation”. And those who pass judgement in the Senate trial.

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  10. DrDaveT says:

    @JKB:

    Good news is that in a Congressional impeachment, like a “grand jury” but different, comes with personal electoral accountability to the American voters for those who vote on the “written accusation”. And those who pass judgement in the Senate trial.

    Mark this day on your calendars, folks — JKB and I are in complete agreement about something.

  11. DrDaveT says:

    @pylon:

    In fact, Turley argued at the time that Clinton could be impeached for privately lying to staffers.

    I didn’t see the testimony or read a thorough summary — did anyone question Turley about how his standards would have applied to Clinton, or Nixon, or Andrew Johnson? Did anyone point out to him that he is on the record as having had a much lower bar in the past?

  12. dmichael says:

    @gVOR08: At the risk of being tiresome, I repeat my question: Why are we still attempting to persuade the unpersuadable? The testimony of the law professors (with the exception of Turley who is now against impeachment because everyone is polarized and angry) clearly showed the history and meaning of the impeachment provision in the Constitution and its application to the facts in the allegations against Trump. There is nothing unclear about this. If you refuse to believe it, then you are left with refusing to believe all of the evidence, including the memcon released by the White House and all of the witness testimony. I don’t expect any Republican will be persuaded. That is a fool’s errand. The value of impeachment here is to take a stand and make Republicans expose themselves for who they are.

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  13. gVOR08 says:

    Frustrating. Pelosi didn’t want to impeach, but the whistleblower gave them a smoking gun they couldn’t realistically let go. And it is a smoking gun. They have Trump dead to rights soliciting a bribe. And along the way aiding Russia in attacking an ally of ours while trying to force said ally to interfere in our election for Trump’s benefit. I mean FFS what more do you want?

    But we have the Republican Party. There was always the theory that they might break with Trump if they were shown a serious enough offense. Well, they’ve been shown and they aren’t breaking. If we found a signed agreement between Trump and Putin to throw the 2016 election in return for screwing over Ukraine, the Republicans would declare it fake news. Even after Trump tweeted he signed it. And they’ll spend the next year blowing smoke and claiming this is a politically motivated impeachment over nothing, projecting what they did to Clinton.

    We also have a legalistic mindset. The President* of the United States is an unwitting agent of a hostile foreign power, and perhaps witting within Trump’s limited abilities, but we can’t do anything about it unless we can prove beyond a reasonable doubt he’s doing it wittingly.

    And all the Ds can do is lay out the facts and hope for the best in the election. If they take the presidency, but the Rs keep the Senate, we’re still screwed.

    Frustrating.

    ETA – Written in parallel with, not in reply to, dmichael.

  14. An Interested Party says:

    I love these arguments that if the Democrats had some conservative witnesses things would have been so much better for their argument…that, of course, is bull$hit…the Trumpists, either those who are part of the cult or the GOP politicians who are scared of him and his base, will never, ever admit he did anything wrong, so there’s no way to make this a nonpartisan affair…indeed, if conservatives had testified, they would have been dismissed as bitter Never Trumpers…in the end, the Democrats have already made their case, the only people who don’t believe it are the scared and/or the stupid…

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  15. Kit says:

    @gVOR08:

    The result was a partisan food fight that made the Republicans’ job of obfuscation far too easy.

    Grrr… Yes and no. I see the point, but then again just what couldn’t Republicans obfuscate? And just what sort of expert in this field could help but have a strong opinion? It’s like getting a climate scientist to explain the dynamics of the atmosphere but have no opinion on global warming. Yeah… I’ve heard a bit about that, but never took much of an interest in the subject, I’m afraid…

  16. just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @DrDaveT: And yet I can’t imagine two people more separated about what will represent voters demonstrating “personal electoral responsibility.”

    We have met the enemy, and he is–relentlessly, ceaselessly, unambiguously–us.

    Note: linked to incorrect post. s/b to response to @JKB.

  17. just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @dmichael: Maybe we’re only “preaching to the choir” in much the same way that Evangelicals frequently preach “come to Jesus” to people who, in theory anyway, have already made the move.

    I’ve no objection to imploring the faithful to “keep the faith” understand, but it is important to understand message, audience, and end.

  18. Mister Bluster says:

    ….personal electoral accountability to the American voters…

    …who voted 65,853,514 (48.2%) to 62,984,828 (46.1%) in favor of the Democrat Hillary Clinton.

    If the Senate wants to be accountable to the American voters they can remove Donald Trump from office.

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  19. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @reid: Just came across a link to it: 5 myths about impeachment

    I wonder what happened in 2016 to change his mind.

  20. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @gVOR08:

    It wasn’t necessary for the experts to have any opinion about whether Trump had committed any of those offenses,

    Now, go find a constitutional scholar who doesn’t already have an opinion on whether or not trump has committed impeachable offenses. If you find one, s/he’s a liar.

  21. David S. says:

    @dmichael: To an extent, if you’re going to do a thing, do it right. If you’re not going to do it right, don’t do it at all. Going through the motions, at this point, is important, because impeachment is happening, so they have to try to pretend that there are open questions to be answered about it.

    This is basically turning into exactly the kind of debacle that anti-impeachment centrists and leftists were anticipating.

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  22. An Interested Party says:

    I don’t think the law profs are going to move any needles; the GOP base is not going to be moved by “know-it-all law profs”.

    At this point, his base wouldn’t be moved if Jesus Christ Himself returned and told them to throw out this malignancy…

    This is basically turning into exactly the kind of debacle that anti-impeachment centrists and leftists were anticipating.

    What is the alternative? Nothing, nothing at all, will sway Trump’s supporters nor his political enablers…there is simply no way that this could not have been a partisan activity…

  23. the Q says:

    Like OJ jurors, it won’t matter where the evidence or testimony may lead, wingnuts just don’t want to find him guilty….Barr ” who polices the police?”…..Trump “LAPD witch hunt” Pompeo “there is NO evidence”…etc…

    Basically, watch the reaction from a trumper white nationalist when you call him “a white OJ juror acting the fool like the N words on the jury that you wingnuts assailed for being blind to the evidence”

  24. dmichael says:

    @David S.: I have now read your comment several times and I still don’t understand it. Are you saying that the Democrats are doing it (I assume the impeachment) wrong? If so, how? How are the Democrats “pretending” that there are open questions about it (again, I assume the impeachment)? As Doug has pointed out, the House is like but not the same as, a grand jury. It receives evidence and then determines whether or not to issue an indictment. If issued, it goes to the Senate for a trial. How is it a “debacle” to follow this procedure? No one is pretending that any Republican (except perhaps former Repub Justin Amash) will vote to send the impeachment articles to the Senate and no one assumes that ANY Repub Senator will vote to convict.

  25. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @An Interested Party: FAKE JESUS! FAKE JESUS!

  26. An Interested Party says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: Indeed…the Moonies and Scientologists, to name just two examples, weren’t/aren’t as fanatical as Trumpists are…

  27. Kathy says:

    @An Interested Party:

    At this point, his base wouldn’t be moved if Jesus Christ Himself returned and told them to throw out this malignancy…

    Much of Trump’s base believes Jesus actually came to Earth and said, among other things, “whatsoever you do to the least of my brothers that you do unto me,” and they’re satisfied to look away, or cheer, when Trump tears children from their parents and puts them in concentration camps.

    So, yes, I believe if Jesus were real and he returned and called out Trump, his supporters would look away from Jesús and go on cheering Trump.

  28. Mikey says:

    @Kathy: Trump is Jesus for followers of Jesus who have rejected the teachings of Jesus.

  29. gVOR08 says:

    @Kathy: Within my admittedly limited experience, Evangelicals aren’t big on the New Testament.

  30. Kit says:

    @gVOR08:

    Within my admittedly limited experience, Evangelicals aren’t big on the New Testament.

    I’ve long had this idea for a novelty book entitled The Conservative Bible. The idea would be to cut out all the crap and just print those parts of the Bible that conservatives really care about. You know, the stuff that’s against homosexuals, for women being subservient, Christ coming with the sword. The red meat, basically. Publishers would never touch such a project, so I never bothered doing any real research, but my gut tells me that this light book would be heavy on the Old Testament. At times, I still wonder just how long the whole thing would run. On the last page, I’d print: You saved 99.9%!

  31. Mikey says:

    @gVOR08: Ironic, isn’t it, that so many Evangelical Christians pay so little attention to the part of the Bible that actually has Christ in it?

  32. An Interested Party says:

    Trump is Jesus for followers of Jesus who have rejected the teachings of Jesus.

    It’s funny how so many non-Christians believe more in the teachings of Jesus Christ than do actual so-called Christians…

    …the stuff that’s against homosexuals…

    Even that is homophobic bullshit, unless evangelicals also disapprove of eating shellfish and wearing clothes made with mixed fabrics…the next time you are eating at Red Lobster or shopping at a department store, be on the lookout for sinning evangelicals…