News and Commentary

Impeachment Witness, Trump Critic: Trump Trial Defense ‘Brilliant,’ ‘Sophisticated,’ ‘Effective’
UNITED STATES - JANUARY 16: Jonathan Turley, a professor at George Washington University Law School, attends a Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing for William P. Barr, nominee for attorney general, in Hart Building on Wednesday, January 16, 2019.
Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call

Constitutional Law Professor at George Washington University Jonathan Turley, a Trump critic who was widely praised for his non-partisan testimony during House Democrats’ impeachment hearings, praised Trump’s legal team on Saturday over their performance in defending the president.

“The House took a lot of hits below the waterline today,” Turley wrote on Twitter. “These were powerful points that gave ample foundation for senators to support acquittal without agreeing with the Dershowitz theory or the suggestion that everything was ‘perfect.’ I liked the low key, fact-based argument.”

“The White House did a particularly good job explaining its position on refusing discovery and also the unfair process,” Turley continued. “Moreover, it was a brilliant decision to limit the opening to a few hours. The House subjected the Senate to mind-numbing repetition for 22 hours.”

“By giving up much of the first day, the White House gave a concise opening, relieved the jury, and pushed the main argument to Monday with a larger television audience,” Turley concluded. “It was a sophisticated and effective strategy that paid off. A very strong start to their case.”

Earlier this week, Turley said that House Judiciary Committee Chairman Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY), one of the Democrats’ impeachment managers, made a “huge blunder” in delivering Democrats’ case.

“One of the things you teach law students is that when you make arguments to juries, make sure you don’t insult the jury,” Turley said. “That is, you don’t want to make statements that make them feel stupid or ascribe any bad motivations to them, and if there was one major blunder during the argument it was Jerry Nadler, who got ahead of the skis a bit and said that the Senate could be engaged in a cover up, and when he said that, people on the floor recounted later that there was sort of a hush, a reaction from the Senators.”

“This is not the place for that,” Turley continued. “And what was notable was that it was Lisa Murkowski, one of the Senators they are trying to get, who was the first to object outside the chambers and said that she was deeply insulted. You know, this is not just the most deliberative body, it’s the most defensive body, and if you actually call them traitors or conspirators in a cover up, it’s more likely that they’re going to join together than break apart.”

Turley was referring to Nadler saying, “If you vote to block this witness or any evidence, it can only be because you do not want the American people to hear the evidence, that you do not want a fair trial, and that you are complicit in President Trump’s efforts to hide misconduct and the truth from the American people.”

“The question is if the Senate will be complicit in the president’s crimes by covering them up,” Nadler added. “Any senator who votes against any relevant testimony shows that he and she are part of the cover up. What other possible reason is there to prohibit a relevant witness to testify here?”