Nadler's Impeachment Circus

Dem-picked law professors put on a rage-filled clown show.

The House Intelligence Committee approved its Democrat majority report on Tuesday claiming there was "overwhelming evidence" that President Trump committed misconduct in office and obstruction. The “overwhelming” evidence consisted of no more than an accumulation of hearsay and presumptions. It is contradicted by direct evidence that President Trump demanded nothing from Ukraine. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky also denied that there was any pressure exerted on him by President Trump, and he said recently that he “never talked to the President from the position of a quid pro quo.” On Wednesday, the House Judiciary Committee took over the impeachment circus. The House Judiciary Committee’s first public hearing consisted of a supposedly academic discussion by constitutional law experts on impeachment. Before kicking off the public hearing, Chairman Jerry Nadler summed up his not so scholarly approach in a closed-door session with Democrats as follows; “I’m not going to take any sh*t.” He just likes to dish it out like his comrade, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff.

The professors who testified before the House Judiciary Committee were Noah Feldman (Harvard Law School), Pamela S. Karlan (Stanford Law School),  Michael Gerhardt (University of North Carolina School of Law), and Jonathan Turley (George Washington University Law School). Three out of the four experts called to testify were hand-picked by the Democrats, stacking the deck against President Trump. The Republicans’ single choice was Professor Turley, a Democrat himself but relatively open-minded compared to the Democrats’ choices.

Professors Feldman, Karlan and Gerhardt, not surprisingly, concurred that President Trump had committed "the impeachable high crime and misdemeanor of abuse of power." Professor Turley disagreed.

Professor Feldman interpreted the “high Crimes and Misdemeanors” impeachable offense as meaning "Abuse of the office of the presidency for personal advantage or to corrupt the electoral process or to subvert the national security of the United States.” He added that “if we cannot impeach a president who abuses his office for personal advantage, we no longer live in a democracy. We live in a monarchy or we live under a dictatorship.”

Then Professor Feldman jumped to the conclusion, based on “the testimony presented to the House” – virtually all second, third or fourth hand -  that President Trump abused the official power of his office by seeking “a personal political and electoral advantage over his political rival, former vice president Joe Biden, and over the Democratic Party.” Somehow channeling the Founding Fathers’ thoughts, Professor Feldman said they “would expect the House of Representatives to take action in the form of impeachment” against President Trump. Professor Feldman even imagined a meeting with James Madison and Alexander Hamilton in the afterlife, when they would ask regarding President Trump’s alleged wrongdoing, “what did you do?” Impeachment, he said, must be the answer.

Professor Feldman claimed that President Trump’s actions constituted bribery under the Constitution. Trying to explain away the significance of the fact that Ukraine received, with no strings attached, the security assistance that had been temporarily placed on hold, Professor Feldman asserted that even attempting to withhold aid from Ukraine was impeachable. President Trump’s legitimate concerns about lingering corruption in Ukraine, Ukraine’s interference in the 2016 presidential election, and the failure of European nations to contribute their fair share to Ukraine’s defense are evidently irrelevant to this Harvard Law professor.

Professor Karlan, who donated $1000 to the presidential campaign of Sen. Elizabeth Warren last July, also testified as to her understanding of the Founding Fathers’ intentions. She proceeded from the unproven claim that President Trump “used the powers of his office to demand that a foreign government participate in undermining a competing candidate for the presidency” to declare that the Founding Fathers would have been horrified. She said that President Trump’s actions cut to the heart of the democracy and endangered the right to vote, without providing a cogent explanation of what she meant. And she threw in the Emoluments Clause for good measure.

The third constitutional expert to testify on behalf of the Democrats’ impeachment narrative was Professor Gerhardt. He claimed that President Trump’s behavior was “worse than the misconduct of any prior president.” In offering his views as to why President Trump should be impeached, this professor displayed rank hypocrisy by contradicting what he said seven years ago when defending then-President Barack Obama at a House Judiciary Committee hearing on the Obama administration's abuse of power.

Professor Gerhardt said about President Trump, "The record compiled thus far shows the president has committed several impeachable offenses." This is the same pile of hearsay and assumptions that the other Democrat witnesses relied on without any critical analysis. He accused President Trump of committing bribery, obstructing justice, and obstructing Congress. “If Congress fails to impeach here, then the impeachment process has lost all meaning, and, along with that, our Constitution’s carefully crafted safeguards against the establishment of a king on American soil,” Professor Gerhardt added.

Professor Gerhardt had no problem reciting his claims of abuses of power by President Trump based on flimsy evidence. He even misstated the “record compiled so far” in his opening statement. “The ‘favor’ he requested from Ukraine’s president,” said Professor Gerhardt, “was to receive – in exchange for his release of the funds Ukraine desperately needed -- Ukraine’s announcement of a criminal investigation of a political rival.”

The “favor” mentioned in the call memo detailing President Trump’s July 25th phone call with President Zelensky had nothing to do with the Bidens. It was a request for opening an investigation into alleged Ukrainian interference in the 2016 presidential election. There is no direct factual evidence that President Trump tied release of the security assistance to Ukraine to any announcement of any investigation. The aid was not discussed at all during the July 25th call, according to the call memo. In fact, the Ukrainians did not even know about the hold on the aid until late August. The aid was released on September 11th without any conditions pertaining to an investigation announcement.

Professor Gerhardt ascribed corrupt political motives to President Trump for his actions in relation to Ukraine. The professor had no interest in considering any legitimate reasons within President Trump’s constitutional authority for his actions, irrespective of whatever political ramifications might have resulted. Professor Gerhardt simply assumed the worst and characterized President Trump’s actions as impeachable offenses. Yet when the shoe was on the other foot seven years ago and the Republican-led House Judiciary Committee was conducting its hearing into Obama administration abuses of power, Professor Gerhardt bent over backwards to give Obama the benefit of the doubt. “The fact that a president's constitutional choices have political ramifications does not make them political or purely partisan acts,” Professor Gerhardt said back then. “Nor should those ramifications be confused with the arguments that support, or oppose, the constitutional judgments in question.”

In the face of far more compelling evidence of Obama’s multiple usurpations of legislative power, his failures to faithfully execute the nation’s laws, and abuse of his executive powers in trampling on the fundamental freedoms of speech, the press and religion, Professor Gerhardt shamelessly declared, “For myself I think it is pretty obvious that there has been no abuse of power.” He went on to say that Obama had been “transparent, open  and deliberative and reasonable.” Professor Gerhardt also made excuses for the Obama administration’s stonewalling of Congressional investigations. “The judgment about whether executive privilege applies is, at bottom, a constitutional choice, albeit one that obviously has political ramifications,” Professor Gerhardt said back then. Checks and balances, he emphasized, in defending Obama's resistance to congressional demands. Now he claims that “there is more than enough” evidence to charge President Trump with the “impeachable offense” of “obstruction of Congress.”

Professor Gerhardt expressed no worries about the highly partisan nature of the current impeachment proceedings launched against President Trump. Falling back on the House’s “sole power of impeachment,” the professor apparently forgot Alexander Hamilton’s warning in Federalist Papers No. 65. To refresh the professor’s memory, Alexander Hamilton warned that in the heat of the moment “there will always be the greatest danger that the decision will be regulated more by the comparative strength of parties, than by the real demonstrations of innocence or guilt.”

We don’t even have to go back to the Founding Fathers to find concern about a congressional proceeding run by a majority of one party examining alleged abuses of power by a president from an opposing party, especially with an election approaching. We can look to Professor Gerhardt himself. At the congressional hearing seven years ago into the Obama administration’s abuses of power, Professor Gerhardt advised the committee members to “do what you can to ensure the hearings do not deviate from a legitimate constitutional inquiry into political theater.” After all, he said, the American people would soon have their say in the upcoming presidential election. And those hearings were not even impeachment proceedings. The professor provided no such advice this time to the Democrats trying to ram through,  on a strictly partisan basis, an impeachment without due process or substantial evidence of wrongdoing, just as we approach another presidential election.

Finally, Professor Turley had his turn. He brought some much-needed legal professionalism to the Nadler show. Noting that he is not a Trump supporter and did not vote for him, Professor Turley called out the impeachment proceedings as he saw it. "I believe this impeachment not only fails to satisfy the standard of past impeachments, but would create a dangerous precedent for future impeachments," he said. He added that “impeachments have to be based on proof” and not on “presumptions.”

Professor Turley pointed out such obvious deficiencies in the Democrats’ case as a “lack of evidence of a corrupt intent.” As for the charge of obstructing Congress by not turning over requested materials, Professor Turley said that President Trump has gone to the courts and “he’s allowed to do that. We have three branches, not two.”  He told the committee members, "If you make a high crime and misdemeanor out of going to the courts. It's an abuse of power, it's *your* abuse of power." That is called checks and balances, something that Professor Gerhardt forgot about this time.

Professor Turley also criticized the Democrats’ rush to judgment on impeachment, remarking that “fast is not good.”

The House Judiciary Committee is the latest arena for the Democrats’ three-ring circus impeachment proceedings. They are picking at straws with no credible evidence to support their case. They presented three legal experts with obvious anti-Trump bias declaring that President Trump is guilty of impeachable offenses, based on the Democrats’ flimsy hearsay-upon-hearsay evidence and presumptions. One of their witnesses, Professor Gerhardt, applied standards totally at variance with what he used to excuse Barack Obama’s far graver actions.

It is time to bring down the curtains on this partisan theatrical sideshow.

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