Turley on Impeachment, Redux

Outliers are bad places to look for solid support of your argument.

To add proof to his concern trolling column about the second impeachment of Donald Trump, Jonathan Turley rather breathlessly reports on his web page that Georgia Rep Pledges To File Articles of Impeachment Against Joe Biden

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene is a newly elected Republican member from Georgia who pledged yesterday that “On January 21, 2021, I’ll be filing Articles of Impeachment against Joe Biden for abuse of power.”  That is precisely what I criticized Democrats for doing in challenging the legitimacy of Donald Trump’s election starting on the inauguration and raising repeated demands for impeachment for acts ranging from his criticism of NFL kneelers to his inflammatory tweets. It was wrong for them and it is wrong of Greene and any other Republicans who want to engage in this type of retaliatory impeachment effort.

First, it should be understood that Greene is a full-blown adherent to the QAnon conspiracy and is simply not a serious member of Congress. One should not be building cases around her about anything except the corrosive influence of conspiracy theories.

Turley does not mention QAnon in the piece, by the way. If he doesn’t know she who she is, he is using this “evidence” for his position rather desperately. But if that is true, he is not a very astute consumer of news. More likely he omitted that fact because he knows that is detracts from his argument, such as it is, quite substantially.

Second, members of Congress frequently threaten to file articles of impeachment. A quick Google search over breakfast found a bunch of examples from an Atlantic article concerning GOP threats to impeach Obama: A Brief History of GOP Calls for Obama’s Impeachment, From Benghazi to Bergdahl.

Here are a couple examples:

In 2012, Sen. Jon Kyl said “impeachment is always a possibility” over Obama’s immigration policies.

During the debt-ceiling crisis, Rep. Louie Gohmert told an interviewer that defaulting on the U.S. government’s debt would be an “impeachable offense.”

If I had half an hour or so to dedicate to this, I am sure that I could produce myriad examples for Bush as well.

That members of Congress make idle/rhetorical threats of impeachment is nothing new. As such, having a fringe member of the opposition party make this threat is not evidence of Turley’s hypothesis. It is just normal business. Greene was destined to make these threats as soon as she was nominated to be the Republican candidate from her district (since the GOP overwhelmingly dominates that district). Others will make that threat as well. And they will mean nothing.

Can I also point out that Democrats control the House, and therefore there isn’t going to be any impeachment this session?

Do I think that odds of more impeachments going forward are possible? Yes, I do. But that possibility was not a reason not to impeachment Trump a second time nor was Greene going to be demur and reasonable if the House hadn’t impeached him the second time.

Turley’s post is a very poor example of use of evidence and of argumentation.

FILED UNDER: US Politics
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter

Comments

  1. mattbernius says:

    Turley’s post is a very poor example of use of evidence and of argumentation.

    This is an evergreen line for describing a lot of Truley’s popular writings in recent years.

    14
  2. Kylopod says:

    That members of Congress make idle/rhetorical threats of impeachment is nothing new.

    Agreed. But I’m going to make a prediction: If the GOP gains control of the House during Biden’s presidency, they will impeach him multiple times.

    14
  3. Robert in SF says:

    I take this as the Republicans just moving the goal post so they can diminish the “value” and credibility of an impeachment.

    “Impeachment’s? You want to talk about impeachment’s?! Just look at how many articles of impeachment were filed against [President*] Biden! His actions and threats against the Constitution [references to the 2nd amendment?] were so egregious and radical that he had articles of impeachment # of times!!!”

    * I don’t yet know their derogatory and disrespectful nickname for President Biden yet. Something that delegitimizes his election. Let’s get a pool going!

    3
  4. gVOR08 says:

    @Kylopod: Yes. Completely independent of anything Ds do or don’t do:
    – Next time GOPs have a House majority and a D prez, they will impeach.
    – If they ever have a majority of both houses and a D wins the prez election, they will overturn the EC vote.
    – If they get a majority in either house with a D prez, they will endlessly investigate.
    – FOX et al will continue to mislead and stoke the GOP base.
    – The supposedly liberal MSM will continue to hold up any one who is slightly less nuts at the moment as a Moderate Republicans.

    GOPus delendus est.

    22
  5. Kathy says:

    It would be a record-breaking, titanic, super-human feat for Biden to abuse his power so much in the first 24 hours of his presidency that it would merit impeachment.

    And that pales before having a creature capable of knowing that will happen, and who chooses to score political points instead of preventing it.

    5
  6. An Interested Party says:

    This bogus argument is being made by others as well…it’s so disingenuous to not only downplay what happened in the Capitol but also to downplay Trump’s role in that by arguing that now impeachment will be used willy-nilly for any political disagreement…it’s amazing how some people still don’t see what happened as being a serious matter and continue to give Trump a pass on his inappropriate behavior…

    2
  7. @Kylopod: I think there is a real chance of this. I think an impeachment by a majority R House was quite possible already.

    I also think that what Rs might do should not influence what Ds do now (not that you are suggesting otherwise, but to again counter Turley).

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  8. @mattbernius: He seems like he is angling to get pundit status and hence gigs for TV. He acts like he is profoundly concerned, but the quality of his arguments are simply poor.

    5
  9. gVOR08 says:

    Steven, are you trying to cancel Turley?

    Cancel culture seems to be the new conservative boogey man. Kind of like “political correctness’, except it only affects the intelligentsia, and I use that term loosely to apply it to Turley and other conservative writers. Does Joe Sixpack care?

    1
  10. Kylopod says:

    @gVOR08: This is one of the reasons why I can’t get too excited about the new factoid splashing across all the headlines that Trump is the first president to be impeached twice. It’s supposed to be significant of something, but in reality, the fact that it happened proves nothing. The fact that Trump did all these horrible things is highly significant, but the fact he was impeached simply proves that the opposition party chose to impeach him. And next time the GOP gets the opportunity, they will impeach Biden or whomever three times and then gleefully describe him as “the first president to be impeached three times.” (Or four, or five, or 17–take your pick.) We know the GOP is fully capable of getting almost their entire party behind completely made-up bullshit, and then speaking about it with as much red-hot conviction as if it really happened. When the GOP-dominated SCOTUS stole an election in plain sight and essentially installed Bush as president by fiat, the Dems just slinked away. But after an election the Dems won decisively without one scintilla of evidence of impropriety, the R’s will be screaming about the Stolen Election of 2020 for decades to come. And how do we know it was stolen? Because so many Americans believe it was stolen. That’s the way the GOP operates: act in ruthless and shameless ways without merit and then point to the results as proof of the Dems’ shortcomings.

    8
  11. Robert in SF says:

    Another thought on the likelihood of the Republicans impeaching President Biden:

    There’s more value in the discussion and rabble rousing of their base to get re-elected in the threats and ‘debate’ of impeachment, rather than actual impeachment. The impeachment trials may have some good sound bites to be aired on Fox and OANN, etc., but the real benefit to the Republicans is the much more frequent interviews and opinion pieces (which don’t require the formality of a trial and evidentiary burden) and floor speeches that allege crimes and misdemeanors.

    These interviews, etc., can be stretched out for mooooonths and resurge anytime for any reason, so they won’t waste their time in the spotlight on an actual trial…just the threats of one and the supposed reasons.

    1
  12. JohnSF says:

    @Kathy:

    …abuse his power so much in the first 24 hours of his presidency…”

    Oho, they’ve thought of that.
    Current argument in the Magasphere is that there was fraud, Biden knew there was fraud, therefore the moment he is sworn in he can be impeached.

    Nutty as a squirrels lunchbox.

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  13. reid says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: He is a consummate apologist. A real constitutional scholar would simply be outraged by Trump’s behavior. Leave it to him to find something to criticize about the impeachment process and focus on that.

    He also brings up right-wing allegations against Biden, for balance I guess. What a both-sides, limp noodle he is.

    3
  14. Kathy says:

    @JohnSF:

    The actual charges are:

    One count of being a Democrat
    One count of winning an election over St. Donald of Trump the Most Holiest God Emperor EVER!!

    But, seriously, impeachment is so undefined that you can impeach any official (not only presidents are subject to it) for wearing boxers or eating an apple, if you have the votes for it. The question is how such accusations would play among the general population, and among the party base. therefore you need to come up with something both real and substantial to make it stick, or you become a laughing stock.

    There was a huge outcry in the 50s after the Brown v Board of Education ruling that abolished segregated schooling, to impeach the entire Supreme Court. Granted that was a more serious, more adult time than today, or so it seems, but the demand was groundless. Even had the Court’s ruling been as damaging to the country as white supremacists claimed, there was no crime, never mind high crime, involved in the decision.

    3
  15. Sleeping Dog says:

    @Kathy:

    They’ll retroactively impeach Obama for wearing a tan suit and letting Michele wear a sleeveless dress.

    4
  16. JohnSF says:

    @Kathy:

    “…there was no crime, never mind high crime…”

    Ah, but misdemeanors?
    There’s a category you can stretch out a bit.
    Especially as at the time being non-white in a public place was pretty misdemeanoury in a large part of the country.

    1
  17. Kathy says:

    As has been noted in the news recently, five House Democrats voted to impeach Bill Clinton. I don’t recall any of them expected to be attacked on that account.

    This is banana republic stuff. Or in trumpy terms, s**t-hole country stuff.

    5
  18. CSK says:

    @Kathy:
    Peter Meijer had to buy body armor and change his routine because of death threats.

  19. ImProPer says:

    @Kylopod:

    I believe you are right on the money. Unfortunately I’m sure there will be no shortage of avenging angels, equally hungry for attention, “selflessly” battling back in the spotlight. What a mess the internet has brought to our politics

  20. Gustopher says:

    If I had half and hour or so to dedicate to this, I am sure that I could produce myriad examples for Bush as well.

    Too lazy to look up examples of politicians rumbling about impeaching Bush for lying about Saddam Hussein’s WMDs, but here’s a Neil Young song about impeaching him.

    https://youtu.be/k4kTnP5VJ1k

  21. al Ameda says:

    @Kylopod:

    Agreed. But I’m going to make a prediction: If the GOP gains control of the House during Biden’s presidency, they will impeach him multiple times.

    I’m with you. And you know that ‘Hunter Biden!’ will be the centerpiece of the impeachment charges and proceedings.

    1
  22. Moosebreath says:

    @Kathy:

    “The actual charges are:

    One count of being a Democrat
    One count of winning an election over St. Donald of Trump the Most Holiest God Emperor EVER!!”

    And one count of assuming the powers of the President when everyone* knows he only won through election fraud.

    * Or at least everyone who is a member of QAnon.

    1
  23. gVOR08 says:

    I mentioned yesterday that one John Eastman, a worthy of the Federalist Society, had advised Pence that he could overturn the EC vote. LGM reports that he also participated in the demonstrations of the 6th and has now accepted an urgent invitation from his university to retire.

  24. Kathy says:

    @gVOR08:

    I would think a lawyer who advises anyone, client or not, to commit a crime, should be easily disbarred.

  25. DrDaveT says:

    @Robert in SF:

    I don’t yet know their derogatory and disrespectful nickname for President Biden yet. Something that delegitimizes his election. Let’s get a pool going!

    $10 on “Acting President Biden”.

    3
  26. Slugger says:

    Bill Clinton’s impeachment showed us that our legislature is not a serious forum for ventilation of serious national problems. The Watergate hearings were gripping and involved real crimes instigated by the President. The Clinton hearings took two months, and shattered any pretension to dignity of the US. The Benghazi hearings continued this trend. We have an imperial presidency and a clownish Congress. Vote for sanity!

    4
  27. dazedandconfused says:

    Turley was born too late. He missed his chance at Congressional concern-trolling greatness on Dec 8, 1941.

    1
  28. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @DrDaveT: $10 on “Acting President Biden”.

    Nah, I mean the rejoinder is, “At least Joe acts like a president, which is more than trump ever did.”

    2
  29. Kurtz says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    This all reminds me of Neil Postman’s Amusing Ourselves to Death and its debt to McLuhan–the medium is the message.

    Everybody wrung their hands raw and rent their garments about 1984 that we slipped naked into Brave New World and it’s all good because we’re freeeeeeeeeeeee!

    American culture has no clothes.

    2
  30. ImProPer says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    “I also think that what Rs might do should not influence what Ds do now”

    This key to getting out of the mess we are in. Just basic governing, and legal action as appropriate, ( like now). We are well into the age of the internet, and the democratization of the political spotlight is here to stay. I have zero faith that the demagoguery and attention seeking that plagues us now, will subside in the future. Clowns are going to try to drag us into their circuses, all we can do is refuse to become part of the act.

    @Kylopod:

    Hopefully it’s apparent, but above I was replying to your original post and prediction. I am in an area with little signal, and posted it much earlier.

  31. ptfe says:

    @DrDaveT: Nah, Chairman Joe. Never underestimate the Right when it comes to labeling every D a Commie.

    1
  32. de stijl says:

    @Sleeping Dog:

    Michelle Obama has magnificent arms.