George Washington University Law professor Jonathan Turley was the only one of four law professors called as expert witnesses who sided with Donald Trump during the House impeachment inquiry. But now, Turley seems to have a problem with Trump’s defense team’s argument as to why the president cannot be removed from office.
In an op-ed for the Washington Post on Tuesday, Turley debunked Trump’s legal team’s most fundamental argument in the Senate trial: that the articles of impeachment are invalid because they do not allege the president committed a specific federal crime. Such a view, Turley wrote, “is at odds with history and the purpose of the Constitution.”
“While Framers did not want terms such as ‘maladministration’ in the standard as dangerously too broad, they often spoke of impeachable conduct in noncriminal terms, such as Justice Joseph Story referring to ‘public wrongs,’ ‘great offenses against the Constitution’ or acts of ‘malfeasance or abuse of office,’” wrote Turley. “Alexander Hamilton spoke of impeachment trials as addressing ‘the misconduct of public men, or, in other words, from the abuse or violation of some public trust.’”
“While I believe that articles of impeachment are ideally based on well-defined criminal conduct, I do not believe that the criminal code is the effective limit or scope of possible impeachable offenses,” continued Turley. “If some of the president’s critics are adopting a far too broad understanding of impeachable offenses, the White House is adopting a far too narrow one.”
“The adoption of this interpretation would create lasting harm for the constitutional system,” warned Turley. “It would again ‘expand the space for executive conduct’ by reducing the definition of impeachable conduct to the criminal code. It is an argument that is as politically unwise as it is constitutionally shortsighted … Whatever benefit from the clarity of such a position will come at the cost of any possible consensus. If successful, it would also come at a considerable cost for the Constitution.”
You can read his entire op-ed HERE.