Law professor Jonathan Turley testified before the House Judiciary Committee Wednesday that he has not seen enough evidence to suggest that President Donald Trump committed an impeachable crime.
Turley, a public interest law professor and House Republicans’ sole witness, called an ongoing impeachment inquiry into a possible quid pro quo between Trump and Ukranian President Volodymyr Zelensky a “slipshod” effort that has not found any “compelling evidence” of a crime. House members have sought out evidence that Trump negotiated with Ukrainian leaders to investigate presidential candidate Joe Biden in exchange for military aid in an impeachment inquiry.
“If you were going to make a case to George Washington that you could impeach over a conversation he had with another head of state, I expect his hair – his powdered hair – would catch on fire,” Turley said.
Turley, who submitted 53 pages of written testimony to the committee, said he is not a supporter of Trump and voted against him in 2016 but impeaching Trump with the current evidence would set a “dangerous precedent” for future administrations.
“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,” he said. “It’s your abuse of power – you’re doing precisely what you’re criticizing the president for doing.”
He added that a “fast” and “narrow” impeachment inquiry is “not a good recipe” for successfully removing a president.
“I get it,” Turley said. “You are mad. The President is mad. My Democratic friends are mad, my Republican friends are mad. My wife is mad, my kids are mad. Even my dog seems mad, and Luna is a golden doodle and they don’t get mad. So we’re all mad. Where’s that taken us?”
Turley previously testified before the committee in 1998 to advise members of Congress about the case to impeach former President Bill Clinton. He said then that the House of Representatives had a constitutional duty to send the Democratic president’s case to the Senate for a vote but added that the body would likely not impeach Clinton.
Rep. Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., the committee’s chair, said the Trump administration has obstructed the House’s inquiry “without precedent.” He said Americans must not wait until the upcoming presidential election to address current concerns over the Trump’s actions.
“The President has shown us his pattern of conduct if we do not act to hold him in check now,” he said. “President Trump will almost certainly try again to solicit interference in the election for his personal political gain.”
Rep. Doug Collins, R-Ga., the judiciary committee’s ranking member, said the impeachment inquiry is a “sham” based on House Democrats’ “deep-seated hatred” for Trump.
“This impeachment is not really about facts,” Collins said. “If it was, I believe the other committees would have sent over recommendations for impeachment.”
He added that the inquiry is being driven by the clock and the calendar, rather than facts.
“It didn’t start with Mueller, it didn’t start with a phone call,” Collins said. “You know where this started? It started with tears in Brooklyn in November 2016 when the election was lost. So we are here – no plan, no fact witnesses – simply being a rubber stamp for what we have.”