Turley Tells Disappointed CBS Hosts: Impeachment ‘Designed to Fail’

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Appearing on Friday’s CBS This Morning, legal analyst and constitutional law scholar Jonathan Turley completely shattered the hopes of Democrats and the liberal media that President Trump would be successfully impeached and removed from office. He trashed the proceedings for presenting “the thinnest evidentiary record” and declared the effort was “designed to fail.”

After fellow CBS News legal analyst and anti-Trump Bulwark writer Kim Wehle assured the morning show anchors that Democrats “absolutely” made the case for impeachment, co-host Gayle King turned to Turley and wondered: “Jonathan, do you feel the same?” Turley threw a wet blanket on the discussion: “I’m afraid I don’t.”

 

 

Replying to King and fellow co-host Anthony Mason skeptically asking, “why don’t they have a case?,” Turley dismantled the impeachment crusade point by point:

The fact is I think that this is the – well certainly the shortest investigation, it’s certainly the thinnest evidentiary record, and it’s the narrowest impeachment ever to go to the Senate, if they were to go on this record....did they prove something was contemptible or impeachable? Contemptible is not synonymous with impeachable. The President does set policy. They have three conversations, two of them directly, one with Senator Johnson, one with Ambassador Sondland, where Trump denies a quid pro quo....so you have a conflicted record. And the question is what do you need to remove a sitting president?

Mason wondered why Democrats didn’t compel former National Security Advisor John Bolton to testify. Turley confessed he was curious about the same thing as he slammed the rushed and incomplete process pushed by Democrats:

Whether this is intentional or not, it seems designed to fail in the Senate. I don’t think you could prove a removable offense of a president on this record even if the Democrats were in control. This thing is too narrow, it is – it doesn’t have a broad foundation, and it’s an undeveloped record. There are a lot of core witnesses that were not called. And the question is why? They said, “We want a vote by December. We want to vote before Santa.” Why? Why – why would you – why would you be pushing this instead of calling these critical witnesses?

During special live coverage on Wednesday, Turley shot down an argument from Evening News anchor Norah O’Donnell that Democrats could charge Trump with “obstruction of justice” because those witnesses did not appear.

Moments later, even King admitted: “I think people’s eyes start to glaze over. ‘Ukraine, where is it?,’ some people would say. ‘What is this? Is it bribery, is it collusion? What is it?’” She then asked Wehle, “What do you think is really at stake here, Kim?” Wehle warned: “What’s at stake here is separation of powers. We don’t have a single person or branch in charge. We’re not a monarchy.”

Turley went on to point out that Republicans would be in control of the Senate trial if the House were to approve articles of impeachment and that things would go very differently: “And so the question is, what is this going to look like in the Senate? And I got to tell you, I think this could be the trial that Trump wants. And they will – the first witness they call may be Hunter Biden.”

Wehle laughably pleaded: “Well, let’s hope it’s as civil as it was in the House, because so far the process has been, I think, very measured and thoughtful and professional, which is good.” Mason couldn’t help but get in a jab at the GOP: “Except for the Republicans storming the basement one day.” Wehle replied: “Yes, that was – that was a little footnote there.”

“Measured,” “thoughtful,” and “professional”?! Those are not the words many people would use to describe the partisan hearings that Democrats just held.

Here is a full transcript of the November 22 discussion:

8:03 AM ET

TONY DOKOUPIL: Jonathan Turley and Kim Wehle are CBS News legal analysts and constitutional scholars, and they join us now to explain where the impeachment inquiry is headed next. So, Kim, let’s start with you. Did the Democrats lay out a case that was strong enough to reach that constitutional bar for impeachment?

KIM WEHLE: Well, if the question is abuse of power, yes, they absolutely did. In that the President, it looks like, asked for an investigation or announcement of investigations into a political rival in exchange for release of military aid. So using the power of the presidency, the ability to have a White House meeting, to release this critical aid that Ukraine needed to stave off Russian aggression, and said, “You know what, you have to help me personally.” So that is the standard that the framers cared about, having somebody in office that would use that power for themselves, not for the beef the American people. And here we know it was contrary to national security.

DOKOUPIL: So as far as you’re concerned, write up the articles of impeachment, let’s vote tomorrow?

WEHLE: We’re gonna see it. As far as let’s vote tomorrow, no, the process is a Senate trial. And we’ll have to see what’s in the articles to then test the evidence against those – those claims.

GAYLE KING: Jonathan, do you feel the same?

JONATHAN TURLEY: I’m afraid I don’t.

KING: Why?

TURLEY: The fact is I think that this is the – well certainly the shortest investigation, it’s certainly the thinnest evidentiary record, and it’s the narrowest impeachment ever to go to the Senate, if they were to go on this record. What they did is they did show a quid pro quo. Kim and I agree with that. I think they had powerful witnesses. The witnesses were really marvelous –  

ANTHONY MASON: So why don’t they have a case?

TURLEY: Well, because the question is did they prove something was contemptible or impeachable? Contemptible is not synonymous with impeachable. The President does set policy. They have three conversations, two of them directly, one with Senator Johnson, one with Ambassador Sondland, where Trump denies a quid pro quo. Now I think you can toss the Sondland one out, because that’s September 9th, he knew about the whistleblower. But the Senator Johnson one was August 31st, so you have a conflicted record. And the question is what do you need to remove a sitting president?

WEHLE: Except we do have the call transcript, right?

MASON: Why haven’t the Democrats – the Democrats subpoenaed John Bolton, which would take them into the White House, but they haven’t pushed to get him into the hearings. Why not?

TURLEY: I don’t know. Whether this is intentional or not, it seems designed to fail in the Senate. I don’t think you could prove a removable offense of a president on this record even if the Democrats were in control. This thing is too narrow, it is – it doesn’t have a broad foundation, and it’s an undeveloped record. There are a lot of core witnesses that were not called. And the question is why? They said, “We want a vote by December. We want to vote before Santa.” Why? Why – why would you – why would you be pushing this instead of calling these critical witnesses?

KING: I wonder, Kim, what –

MASON: One quick thing.

KING: Okay.

MASON: Mr. Bolton just tweeted, he said, “For the back story, stay tuned.”

KING: What does that mean?

DOKOUPIL: That’s intriguing.

KING: What does that mean?

WEHLE: A book maybe?

KING:  No, I – but this is the thing, I wonder what the American people are thinking. We’ve had 17 witnesses, you point out, many of them stellar. Stellar reputations and unpartisan [sic]. 3,000 pages of sworn depositions. I think people’s eyes start to glaze over. “Ukraine, where is it?,” some people would say. “What is this? Is it bribery, is it collusion? What is it?” What do you think is really at stake here, Kim?

WEHLE: What’s at stake here is separation of powers. We don’t have a single person or branch in charge. We’re not a monarchy. The idea is every branch gets their papers graded by the other two branches.

KING: What does it say about the Office of the President?

WEHLE: The Office of the Presidency, if wrongdoing in the office, abuse of power is not checked, then we enlarge the office. The belt and suspenders of the power of the presidency gets enlarged. That gets passed on to the next president, to the next president, to future generations. And it won’t always be this particular president or even this particular political party.

MASON: Jonathan, Reince Priebus said earlier today, when this gets – if this gets to the Senate, when it gets to the senate, the rules are changing.

TURLEY: They are. And you know, the Senate, the Republicans will be in charge of the rules. I was Adam Schiff’s opposing counsel last time we did this, in the last impeachment. And Adam benefited greatly because the Democrats were the ones who wrote those rules. Now it’s going to be the opposite. Even the Chief Justice in that proceeding does not get the final word. If he makes a ruling on evidence, the majority of the Senate can overturn him. And so the question is, what is this going to look like in the Senate? And I got to tell you, I think this could be the trial that Trump wants. And they will – the first witness they call may be Hunter Biden.

WEHLE: Well, let’s hope it’s as civil as it was in the House, because so far the process has been, I think, very measured and thoughtful and professional, which is good.

KING: Well, we will all still be watching.

MASON: Except for the Republicans storming the basement one day.

WEHLE: Yes, that was – that was a little footnote there.

DOKOUPIL: Extracurricular.

KING: Oh, there’s that. Thank you, Kim Wehle and Jonathan Turley. Always good to have you both here.

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