If you check the House Judiciary Committee schedule for the current week, you will find a listing for yesterday’s impeachment hearings but nothing beyond it. There is nothing, for example, scheduled for today or tomorrow. You’ll have to forgive the committee’s Chairman, Jerrold Nadler, but he’s not very good at planning — or much else. It is why Speaker Nancy Pelosi broke with protocol and handed leadership of the “discovery” portion of the impeachment heairngs over to Adam Schiff, chairman of the House Intel Committee. She had seen Nadler’s handing of the investigation of the Mueller report, and decided he was not up to the task.
She was right. Nadler’s limited engagement performance yesterday included appearances by four legal scholars (all selected at the last minute) to provide not evidence of wrongdoing but more opinion. Nadler was also hoping to get the White House to participate in the hearings but received a letter on Sunday from White House counsel Pat Cipollone that stated:
[W]e cannot fairly be expected to participate in a hearing while the witnesses are yet to be named and while it remains unclear whether the Judiciary Committee will afford the President a fair process through additional hearings. More importantly, an invitation to an academic discussion with law professors does not begin to provide the President with any semblance of a fair process. Accordingly, under the current circumstances, we do not intend to participate in your Wednesday hearing.
Once again, the deck was stacked. Three of the four witnesses were chosen by the Democrats, one by Republicans.
But it was worse than just that. The Democrats’ star witness, Pamela S. Karlan, of Stanford Law School, is not just a professor but a Democratic activist who contributed to the campaigns of Elizabeth Warren, Barack Obama, and Hillary Clinton. She is also a rabid Trump hater, as she revealed in this video:
This is all you need to know about Democrats' "Star Witness" Pamela Karlan
She hates Trump so much that she has to cross the street to avoid walking by any of his hotels
This is the "fair, unbiased" expert making the case for impeaching Trump?
— Charlie Kirk (@charliekirk11) December 4, 2019
The lone witness for the Republicans was George Washington University Law School Professor Jonathan Turley, who began his opening remarks with a caveat that would have made the Democrats squirm had it been directed at them:
I would like to start, perhaps incongruously, with a statement of three irrelevant facts. First, I am not a supporter of President Trump. I voted against him in 2016 and I have previously voted for Presidents Clinton and Obama. Second, I have been highly critical of President Trump, his policies, and his rhetoric, in dozens of columns. Third, I have repeatedly criticized his raising of the investigation of the Hunter Biden matter with the Ukrainian president.
Having so stipulated, Turley got down to the business at hand:
These points are not meant to curry favor or approval. Rather they are meant to drive home a simple point: One can oppose President Trump’s policies or actions but still conclude that the current legal case for impeachment is not just woefully inadequate, but in some respects, dangerous, as the basis for the impeachment of an American president. To put it simply, I hold no brief for President Trump. My personal and political views of President Trump, however, are irrelevant to my impeachment testimony, as they should be to your impeachment vote. Today, my only concern is the integrity and coherence of the constitutional standard and process of impeachment. President Trump will not be our last president and what we leave in the wake of this scandal will shape our democracy for generations to come. I am concerned about lowering impeachment standards to fit a paucity of evidence and an abundance of anger. If the House proceeds solely on the Ukrainian allegations, this impeachment would stand out among modern impeachments as the shortest proceeding, with the thinnest evidentiary record, and the narrowest grounds ever used to impeach a president. That does not bode well for future presidents who are working in a country often sharply and at times, bitterly divided.
Turley was the only witness to argue that no case for impeachment had been made. But the most telling aspect of the day’s torturously long hearing came when Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) put out this challenge (which can be watched at 0:47 in the video that follows):
To all of the witnesses: If you have personal knowledge of a single material fact in the Schiff report, please raise your hand.
Not one hand went up.
.@RepMattGaetz to Prof. Karlan:
"You don't get to interrupt me on this time! … When you invoke the president son's name here, when you try to make a little joke out of referencing Barron Trump, that does not lend credibility to your argument. It makes you look mean." pic.twitter.com/DIgpG5rgSh
— Jason Howerton (@jason_howerton) December 4, 2019