Jan 22, 2020

Impeachment witness for the GOP blasts part of Trump's legal defense

Trump in Davos, Switzerland, Jan. 21. Photo: Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

Jonathan Turley, a law professor who served as the sole Republican witness at the last House Judiciary hearing on impeachment, lamented part of President Trump's legal defense in a Washington Post op-ed on Tuesday.

What he's saying: "The White House is arguing that you cannot impeach a president without a crime. It is a view that is at odds with history and the purpose of the Constitution."

"In this impeachment, the House has decided to go forward on the narrowest articles with the thinnest record of a presidential impeachment in history. However, many senators may be legitimately leery of buying what the White House is selling with its categorical approach. There is a vast array of harmful and corrupt acts that a president can commit outside of the criminal code."
"The developing defense by the White House is also a mistake. 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."
— Excerpt from Jonathan Turley's op-ed

Context: Alan Dershowitz, part of Trump's defense team in the impeachment trial, said he plans to argue that the House can only impeach a president who has committed "criminal-like" conduct — not political charges like abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

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Trump impeachment trial recap, day 11: Closing arguments conclude

Rep. Adam Schiff at closing arguments. Photo: Senate Television via Getty Images

House managers and President Trump's defense team presented their closing arguments on Monday during the 11th day of the president's Senate impeachment trial.

The state of the play: The four hours of closing arguments were more for show than meant to change any minds, as Trump is all but certain to be acquitted on Wednesday.

Trump impeachment trial recap, day 6: Defense continues case despite Bolton furor

Alan Dershowitz. Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

President Trump's legal team continued its opening arguments on the sixth day of his Senate impeachment trial on Monday.

The big picture: Trump's defense team hit hard on historical precedents, the Bidens, Burisma and the House impeachment managers. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell ended the day grinning broadly during Alan Dershowitz's remarks that the articles are not crimes, receiving handshakes from several GOP senators after, in addition to Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W. Va.)

Go deeperArrowJan 28, 2020

Trump's defense team shifts from complacency to urgency

White House counsel Pat Cipollone arrives for the Senate impeachment trial. Photo: Olivier Doulery/AFP via Getty Images

Just days ago, Republicans were optimistic President Trump’s defense team could cruise to an acquittal by the end of this week, but many believe his lawyers now face a steep climb to stop a vote to allow new witnesses and drag out the impeachment proceedings.

The bottom line: Allegations in excerpts of former national security advisor John Bolton's forthcoming book — leaked to the New York Times for a story published Sunday night — have shifted the dynamic of the impeachment trial and threaten to upend Republicans' plans.

Go deeperArrowJan 28, 2020