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Conservative pro-impeachment congressman explains why Democrats ‘made a strategic error’ by ignoring the major flaws in GOP witness Turley’s testimony

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Justin Amash -- CNN screenshot

Four legal scholars testified at the House Judiciary Committee’s impeachment hearing on Wednesday: three of them argued in favor of impeachment (Pamela Karlan, Noah Feldman and Michael Gerhardt), while Prof. Jonathan Turley of the George Washington University Law School argued against it. Michigan Rep. Justin Amash, a former Republican turned independent and right-wing proponent of impeaching President Donald Trump, analyzed Turley’s testimony in a December 5 thread on Twitter — outlining some flaws and asserting that House Judiciary Democrats made a mistake by not using those flaws to their advantage.

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“Democrats made a strategic error in not engaging more with Turley,” Amash posted. “They need to persuade people in the middle and missed an opportunity by spending most of their time questioning their experts rather than Turley, whose testimony was potentially most damaging to President Trump.”

Although Turley argued against impeaching Trump during his testimony, he made an effort to sound reasonable and pointed out that he didn’t vote for Trump in 2016. Moreover, Turley disagreed with Trump’s assertion that his July 25 phone conversation with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky was “perfect” — which is something that, according to Amash, House Democrats should have pounced on.

“Turley said Trump’s call was ‘anything but perfect,’” Amash tweeted. “Why didn’t Democrats ask him to expound on this? Turley also said impeachment might be justified with a complete record. They should have pressed him repeatedly on the White House’s responsibility for denying certain evidence.”

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Amash, in his Twitter thread, added, “Turley acknowledged that Trump’s actions were improper, potentially impeachable, and worthy of further investigation. Democrats failed to capitalize on these admissions from a GOP legal scholar because they were too busy obtaining less effective testimony from their own experts.”

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Another weakness of Turley’s testimony, according to Amash, was a failure to outline the different roles that the House of Representatives and the Senate have when it comes to impeachment. Articles of impeachment are handed down by the House, then passed along to the Senate to vote “guilty” or “not guilty.” The House doesn’t have the power to remove a president from office, only indict — while the Senate makes a determination of guilt or innocence and can only convict with a two-thirds majority. President Andrew Johnson and President Bill Clinton were both impeached by the House but acquitted in Senate trials.

“When making historical comparisons or discussing standards of proof, Prof. Turley, like Judiciary Republicans, consistently conflates impeachment in the House and trial in the Senate,” Amash tweeted. “The House simply *charges* impeachable offenses, and there’s clearly probable cause for charges.”


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