Turley, one of four witnesses to testify in Wednesday’s impeachment hearings, said he knew, “The most dangerous place for an academic is often between the House and the impeachment of an American president,” and that he was a “tad naive” because he hoped his testimony would help tone down the rhetoric surrounding impeachment.
“Yet I remained a tad naive in hoping that an academic discussion on the history and standards of it might offer a brief hiatus from hateful rhetoric on both sides.”
Turley says that his calls to tone down the rhetoric failed, noting that his office received threatening calls, and some have demanded that George Washington University fire him for his testimony arguing against impeachment.
“My call for greater civility and dialogue may have been the least successful argument I made to the committee. Before I finished my testimony, my home and office were inundated with threatening messages and demands that I be fired from George Washington University for arguing that, while a case for impeachment can be made, it has not been made on this record.”
Turley also reiterated his concern that House Democrats were rushing the process by not waiting for courts to decide whether White House officials could be compelled to testify, which would allow investigators to gain first-hand information into Trump’s reason for putting a hold on roughly $400 million in military aid to Ukraine.
“My objection is not that you cannot impeach Trump for abuse of power but that this record is comparably thin compared to past impeachments and contains conflicts, contradictions, and gaps, including various witnesses not subpoenaed,” Turley said.
“I suggested that Democrats drop the arbitrary schedule of a vote by the end of December and complete their case and this record before voting on any articles of impeachment. In my view, they have not proven abuse of power due to this incomplete record.”
He continued to say that during the impeachment of Bill Clinton, “the crime was clearly established and widely recognized. It met the elements under the criminal code and case law.”
Turley adds that he does not think that Democrats have proven Trump has committed crimes worthy of impeachment. Yet.
“I do not believe a crime has been proven over the Ukraine controversy, though I said such crimes might be proven with a more thorough investigation. Instead, Democrats argued that they do not actually have to prove the elements of such crimes as bribery and extortion to use those in articles of impeachment.”
He ends his op-ed warning Americans that he believes the Democrats’ impeachment effort will lower the standards of impeachment.
“Yet I remain concerned that we are lowering impeachment standards to fit a paucity of evidence and an abundance of anger. Trump will not be our last president. What we leave in the wake of this scandal will shape our democracy for generations to come. ‘Agitated passions’ will not be a substitute for proof in an impeachment. We have too much of the former and too little of the latter.”
In his testimony Wednesday, Turley noted several times that a president could be impeached without committing a crime, but urged Democrats to wait for more evidence to prove their case.