George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley clearly outshone his fellow witnesses on Wednesday in opening statements before the House Judiciary Committee’s first impeachment hearings against President Donald Trump.
Turley’s measured, historical, and solemn address contrasted greatly with the shrill polemics and partisan posturings of the three other law professors called to testify on this day.
First up was Harvard Law professor Noah Feldman. Seeming as nervous as a first grader at a talent show, Feldman relied on quivering indignation and political sound bites to make his case.
His presentation was completely predictable.
Following that, Stanford Law professor Pamela Karlan is proof of what happens to academic standards at a school that decades ago removed a class on western civilization as an academic requirement.
Karlan, voice unsteady with emotion, repeated Democrat talking points one by one. At one juncture, she seemed close to tears.
So much for dispassionate reasoned analysis.
She is of the ideological school that compares President Trump to a royal despot. (In that league, she is joined by famed thinker and constitutional scholar Barbra Streisand.)
Professor Michael Gerhardt of the University of North Carolina was dull to the level of somnolence. He is pro-impeachment and dutifully repeated the Democrat mantras.
By contrast, the star of the today so far is Jonathan Turley.
Turley laid out a coherent anti-impeachment case, while noting he was not a political supporter of the president. He said that while the president’s actions may be problematic, they do not rise to impeachment.
Turley heavily criticized the Democrat-run process because, he said, “This is not how you impeach an American president.”
He used the impeachment of Democrat President Andrew Johnson in 1868 as an example of a 19th century post-Civil War Republican Party run amok in animus toward a president so much so that they impeached him on flimsy grounds.
Turley quoted Republicans who saw through this — and bucked their party leadership in the Senate to vote no.
Johnson was acquitted in the Senate by one vote.
Turley even slyly threw in “Profiles in Courage,” a 1956 book ghostwritten by Ted Sorensen for then-Sen. John F. Kennedy (D-Mass.) — in which the courage of GOP Sen. Edmund Ross of Kansas in voting “no” to impeachment is held up as noble and correct.
He finished off with a powerful closing in quoting a line from the 1966 film “A Man for all Seasons.” The film was about Thomas More and his conflict with English King Henry VIII over a royal divorce.
In it, the More character, played with genius by Paul Scofield, upbraids a potential son-in-law who wants to put partisan passion over law.
Here is the clip. In this writer’s view, it’s one of the most brilliant scenes in film history.
The Democrats running this Judiciary hearing are showcasing today’s witnesses in order to try to give an intellectual and academic justification for their nakedly partisan program.
Three of the witnesses obeyed Dem orders — and parroted the party line.
Turley, like Thomas More, dared to think for himself.
Here’s another look at the clip — watch this and share your thoughts.