Democrats invoked the words of legal analyst Jonathan Turley in their opening statement on the second impeachment of President Donald J. Trump. The only problem? Turley says they’ve misrepresented him as a result of a falsehood perpetuated (and uncorrected) during a CNN interview.
Rep. Neguse (D-CO) – one of the Democrat impeachment managers – leant on a 21-year-old case made by Turley advocating for the post-presidential impeachment of Donald Trump.
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Turley’s work on this matter, they claim, is key. But Turley himself says they got it wrong.
Rep. Neguse cited a 21-year-old piece of work by Turley and tried to pass it off as a few weeks old. Turley – who says his views have now “evolved” – corrected the claim on Twitter and undermining a key component of the Democrat case:
Rep. Neguse just cited my Duke piece and said that I was an advocate until just a couple weeks ago for retroactive trials. I appreciate the citations but it is not true. That article was 21 years ago…https://t.co/GD3RCTz09T
— Jonathan Turley (@JonathanTurley) February 9, 2021
Turley recently wrote:
In my 1999 Duke Law Journal article on impeachment, I wrote that “[t]he Senate majority, however, was correct in its view that impeachments historically extended to former officials, such as Warren Hastings.” See Jonathan Turley, Senate Trials and Factional Disputes: Impeachment as a Madisonian Device, 49 Duke Law Journal 1-146 (1999)(emphasis added). Strangely, some have cited that line to show that I have changed my position on the subject. It doesn’t. It indeed was used retroactively in Great Britain as a historical matter, which I have always acknowledged. Yet, there are significant differences in the use of impeachment in both countries. Indeed, the colonial impeachments were strikingly different in many respects. As I noted in the Duke article, “Even if the only penalty is disqualification from future office, the open presentation of the evidence and witnesses represents the very element that was missing in colonial impeachments.”
Indeed Turley walked his audience through lawyer Laurence Tribe’s own partisan about-face on the issue recently, revealing how Tribe once stood against retroactive prosecutions but now – for Trump – agrees with them. Tribe once wrote:
“Removing a President, even just impeaching him, paralyzes the country. Removing him decapitates a coordinate branch. And remember that the President’s limited term provides a kind of check, and if the check fails, he can be prosecuted when he leaves. To impeach on the novel basis suggested here when we have impeached only one President in our history, and we have lived to see that action universally condemned; and when we have the wisdom not to impeach Presidents Reagan or Bush over Iran-Contra; and when we have come close to impeaching only one other President for the most wide-ranging abuse of presidential power subversive of the Constitution would lower the bar dramatically, would trivialize a vital check.”
It was Tribe who first claimed Turley agreed with retroactive impeachments in a recent interview. Turley’s views on the matter were over 20 years ago, when Tribe’s own views were the polar opposite.
In other words, the Democrat impeachment managers appear to have included untrue comments about Turley’s current position not on the basis of what Turley actually said, but what Tribe claimed Turley had said in a CNN interview.
I even went back and found the clip, which features Tribe calling Turley a hack, then attributing a statement from 21 years ago to “not so long ago.”