Robin Diel: Congressional testimony: what you won’t hear on the evening news
Over the last month, the network news has been full of testimony from the House Intelligence Committee about Ukraine followed by testimony before the House Judiciary Committee on Constitutional Law. After watching testimony in both committees, a trend had emerged.
Both Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA) and Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-NY) organized the hearings so that the main break between testimony periods occur after the Democrat 45-minute question session. This allowed Schiff and Nadler to hold a press conference with national news agencies before story deadlines for the evening news. This set the evening news narrative before the Republican 45-minute question session and individual Representative questions posed to the witness.
This second period has important information that usually remains not reported as the “news cycle” moves onto the next day’s events.
Here is a sample of what you won’t hear from the evening news about Wednesdays Judiciary Committee testimony:
Jerry Nadler and his legal counsel primarily focused on proving their case with the testimony from Noah Feldman, a Harvard Law professor, Pamela Karlan, a law professor at Stanford, and Michael Gerhardt, a law professor at the University of North Carolina. These professors were unequivocal in their support of impeachment. Jonathan Turley, a law professor at George Washington University, was less supportive of the current impeachment process. As such, Turley was only asked one question in the opening 45 minutes and limited to a “Yes/No” answer.
In this second period, many more questions were directed at the more skeptical Jonathan Turley. During the course of these questions, Democrats portrayed Turley as a Trump defender, even though Turley has never voted for nor supported President Trump. After watching Turley’s work with BBC America over the last couple of years, I can say he is not a Trump advocate, but he is an unabashed defender of the rule of law and due process. Turley generally agreed with his colleagues, that Trump might have abused the power of the presidency, but that the impeachment was rushed and the Democrat’s case was “wafer thin.”
Some of Professor Turley’s observations:
“… impeachments require a certain level of saturation and maturation. That is, (allows) the public has to catch up … I’m not pre-judging what your (committee) record would show, but if you rush this impeachment, you are going to leave half the country behind … You have to give time to build a record. This (impeachment) is not an impulse buy item. You are trying to remove a duly elected President of the United States… and that takes time, it takes work.”
Time must be given for challenges to executive privilege “to be heard in the courts …” before the President is accused of obstructing justice.
“I’ve gone through all the crimes mentioned and they do not meet any reasonable interpretation of those crimes and… if you can’t make out those crimes (in accordance with the Federal Court definition), then don’t call it that crime.”
Turley also concluded that the current mass of evidence was “wafer thin” in comparison the both the Nixon and Clinton impeachments. He emphasized to the committee that they needed to “ … get the evidence to support it (quid pro quo). It might be out there, I don’t know, but it is not in this (committee) record … I don’t see proof of a quid pro quo, no matter what my presumptions, assumptions, or bias might be.”
Professor Turley never acquitted President Trump of wrong doing, but warned the committee that this impeachment process lacked the clear and convincing evidence needed to unseat a duly elected president “ … by a considerable measure.” Rather than defending President Trump, Turley primarily urged the Judicial Committee to slow down and take the time to investigate President Trump’s alleged crimes properly and thoroughly.
As if to provide an exclamation point to Turley’s testimony, Nanci Pelosi (D-CA) announced her request that the House Judicial Committee immediately draft Articles of Impeachment the next day. Pelosi cited testimony from Feldman, Karlan, and Gerhardt, but ignored Turley’s cautionary warnings about undue haste in this impeachment process. Instead, Pelosi demanded action immediately after one day after the committee hearing on congressional law.
No new clear and convincing evidence … No time for what Turley called “a certain level of saturation and maturation …” to convince the public of the need for impeachment.
This undue haste stinks of politics, not due process.
Robin Diel lives in Penn Valley.
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