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Jonathan Turley Publishes Op-Ed: "What history really tells us about Senate impeachment trials"

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tags: Senate, impeachment, Jonathan Turley



Jonathan Turley is the Shapiro Professor of Public Interest Law for George Washington University and served as the last lead counsel during a Senate impeachment trial. He testified as a witness expert in the House Judiciary Committee hearing during the impeachment inquiry of President Trump.

George Bernard Shaw said that “only lawyers and mental defectives are automatically exempt for jury duty.” Unless, of course, it is the Senate, where you can be both of those and still sit as a required jury member.

The controversial role of senators in an impeachment trial is back in the news, as various House members challenged the right of some Senate Republicans to take the oath to promise impartial justice after defending President Trump. Less than 24 hours after being named one of the seven House impeachment managers, Representative Val Demings called for the recusal of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell for being biased. Her proposal is as unfounded as it is ironic, since she called for the removal of Trump more than a year ago, which was before the Ukrainian phone call.

In reality, the rules of the impeachment trial are set by Senate majority vote. Moreover, the White House has not had its way on its two principal demands for summary dismissal or witness testimony. But the premise of much of this discussion is that the coordination and comments made by Republicans violate both their oaths and Senate tradition. This view was amplified by University of North Carolina law professor Michael Gerhardt, who testified as a witness with me in the House impeachment inquiry.

Poppy Harlow asked him “how normal or abnormal” it is for the Senate majority leader to work in such “lockstep” with the White House on a trial. Gerhardt declared, “It is extremely unusual. This is the first time in history when the president was coordinating with a big bloc of people from his own party in the Senate.” He continued, “Bill Clinton was not coordinating with the Democrats. In fact, they kept a fair distance between themselves. This is the first time we have seen this kind of coordination.” Despite my respect for Gerhardt, history does not actually bear out that statement.

Read entire article at The Hill

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