GOP’s Only Impeachment Witness Yesterday Contradicted His Own Prior Testimony

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When Bill Clinton faced impeachment, Prof. Jonathan Turley said an impeachable offense does not have to be indictable.

George Washington University Law School Professor Jonathan Turley testified during Wednesday’s impeachment inquiry hearing that he saw no proof President Donald Trump’s actions regarding Ukraine broke any U.S. laws and therefore concluded that impeachment was not warranted.

But according to Business Insider, Turley’s testimony this week directly contradicted testimony he delivered two decades ago when President Bill Clinton faced impeachment.

"If you decide that certain acts do not rise to impeachable offenses, you will expand the space for executive conduct," Turley testified in 1998 during Clinton's impeachment hearings, adding that Clinton did not have to break any laws in order to be impeached.

In 2014, Turley wrote in an op-ed, "While there's a high bar for what constitutes grounds for impeachment, an offense does not have to be indictable.” He continued, writing, "Serious misconduct or a violation of public trust is enough. And the founders emphasized that impeachments were about what happened in the political arena: involving 'political crimes and misdemeanors' and resulting in 'political punishments.'"

But now that Trump faces likely impeachment, the GOP legal analyst is singing a different tune. The only witness called by Republicans on Wednesday, Turley bucked the conclusions of the other three legal scholars who all said the president’s actions warranted impeachment.

While Turley “argued that the mountain of evidence against Trump in the Ukraine scandal didn't matter because it doesn't meet statutory elements for criminal bribery,” the other witnesses pushed back.

"Bribery had a clear meaning to the framers," said Harvard Law School Professor Noah Feldman. "It was when the president, using the power of his office, solicits or receives something of personal value from someone affected by his official powers."

"And I want to be very clear. The Constitution is law," he continued. "The Constitution is the supreme law of the land. So, of course, Professor Turley is right that you wouldn't want to impeach someone who didn't violate the law. But the Constitution, the supreme law of the land, specifies bribery as a ground of impeachment, as it specifies other high crimes and misdemeanors. Bribery had a clear meaning."

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