On Thursday, constitutional law professor Jonathan Turley said Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) had made a “huge blunder” by insulting the senators who would decide whether or not to convict President Donald Trump. In a follow-up op-ed on Friday, he advised the House Democratic impeachment managers to accept that their case was essentially dead on arrival and to slice their articles of impeachment in half. Only by dropping the “obstruction of Congress” impeachment article can they hope to get the Senate to agree to have witnesses in the trial for the “abuse of power” article.
The House impeachment managers “lost this case before it began — not because of the Republican majority but because of the House managers’ own historic blunder in rushing the impeachment forward on an incomplete record,” he wrote in The Washington Post. “They now must make a choice between the disastrous in simply staying the course to certain acquittal or the unpalatable in admitting the blunder and offering a compromise.”
Talk of a compromise has focused on the idea of trading witnesses, with Republicans allowing Democrats to call former national security adviser John Bolton in exchange for Democrats allowing Republicans to call Hunter Biden. “However, such a compromise does not address the separate institutional concern of some senators, likely including the four swing senators,” Turley warned. “For them, the threshold issue is not the inclusion of witnesses in the Senate but the failure of the House to take their testimony.”
He noted Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska)’s reluctance to call witnesses whom the House had failed to pursue in its rushed impeachment vote.
“The decision sits now with the House managers. They can either just grab face time on national television or they can move to deal with their blunder and try to resuscitate this case. They might be able to do so but they will have to offer more than a witness swap,” the constitutional lawyer wrote.
Turley suggested a far grander compromise: “To put it simply, it may be time to dismiss Article II.” He insisted the “obstruction of Congress” charge was “dead on arrival,” and suggested a vote to dismiss the article would allow the Senate to go on record in opposition to the House’s abuse of power.