Thursday, December 05, 2019


In the House Judiciary Committee hearing yesterday, Republican witness Jonathan Turley argued that Democrats are rushing to impeach, refusing to wait for testimony from witnesses who've been withheld by the White House, then insisting that the White House's resistance is obstruction of justice. On Fox News, two commentators rejected that message.
Fox News legal commentators Andrew Napolitano and Andy McCarthy agreed that there were flaws in Jonathan Turley’s argument against impeaching President Donald Trump....

When Napolitano reacted to Turley’s argument, he said that the House of Representatives has the sole power of impeachment and doesn’t need court approval to enforce subpoenas. As Napolitano continued to further note the Trump administration’s refusal to comply with the impeachment inquiry, he argued “that is the act of obstruction,” and Turley’s argument against it is “a misreading of the obstruction statute.”

McCarthy was asked for his response next, and he agreed with Napolitano that Turley’s reasoning was “simply wrong.”

“I don’t think the framers would have thought to that the Article 1 branch [Congress] needed the assistance of the Article 3 branch [the courts] to impeach an officer of the Article 2 branch [the Executive Branch],” McCarthy said. “I don’t think that’s conceivable.”
You can watch the clip at the link above. Audio only is here:

Napolitano and McCarthy agree that Congress has the right to enforce subpoenas for Executive Branch witnesses and documents, and that it's obstruction if the White House fails to comply. But while a couple of guys at the pro-Trump news channel reject Turley's argument, Charlie Savage of The New York Times is taking it very seriously. In a news analysis that's the lead story at as I type this, Savage argues that Turley has a legitimate point when he says that impeachment is being done too hastily and without some first-hand witnesses. Shouldn't Democrats wait until the courts have ruled on whether those witnesses should testify?
Are House Democrats making a mistake by moving swiftly to impeach President Trump when some facts remain hidden about whether he abused his power in the Ukraine affair?

... Calling “the abbreviated period of this investigation” both problematic and puzzling, Mr. Turley said Congress had assembled “a facially incomplete and inadequate record in order to impeach a president.” The evidence has gaps because of “unsubpoenaed witnesses with material evidence,” he argued, and it is wrong to move forward without hearing from them.

... Much of the evidence the House uncovered in its inquiry was from witnesses who largely were a degree of separation removed from Mr. Trump himself. As a result, they were unable to say whether the president ever directly and explicitly said he was conditioning a meeting and the securing of funding for the specific purpose of coercing Ukraine’s president into announcing investigations that would benefit him politically.
They didn't say that? Well, Mick Mulvaney did. We all saw it on television.

Savage acknowledges that, yes, the White House can use the courts to stonewall almost indefinitely.
The opening stage of the fight over [a] subpoena to [former White House counsel Don] McGahn consumed nearly a third of the year before the judge completed a 120-page ruling rejecting it. The Justice Department then immediately appealed. It can repeat that process before a three-judge panel, and then again before the full appeals court and then before the Supreme Court.

And even if the Supreme Court ultimately orders such an official to show up for testimony, he could then refuse to discuss conversations with Mr. Trump on the ground that their contents are privileged. That would start a new cycle of litigation.
But Savage concludes with dishonest spin from the GOP, which he treats as uncontested fact.
Republicans on Wednesday ran in part with Mr. Turley’s theme. Representative Doug Collins of Georgia, the top Republican on the committee, emphasized that the facts of what Mr. Trump did are disputed, unlike those during the Nixon and Clinton impeachment proceedings.

“There are no set facts here,” Mr. Collins said, adding: “This is not an impeachment. This is simply a railroad job.”
"I would like you to do us a favor though" is a set fact. Mulvaney's confession is a set fact. Savage is presenting GOP spin as if it's a legitimate argument made in good faith.

The GOP is really, really good at bad-faith spin. Apart from enriching the already rich and making old white people scared of societal change, it's the only thing Republicans are good at.

But they're so good they spun the Times, if not, for once, a couple of commentators at Fox.

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