Having spent most of Wednesday listening to the "scholars" testifying about the Constitutional standards for impeachment, I came away more convinced than ever that Alexander Hamilton was absolutely right when he warned in Federalist Papers 65 of the danger of the matter of impeachment of a President becoming hostage to partisan passions.

Hamilton wrote:

"A well-constituted court for the trial of impeachments is an object not more to be desired than difficult to be obtained in a government wholly elective. The subjects of its jurisdiction are those offenses which proceed from the misconduct of public men, or, in other words, from the abuse or violation of some public trust. They are of a nature which may with peculiar propriety be denominated POLITICAL, as they relate chiefly to injuries done immediately to the society itself. The prosecution of them, for this reason, will seldom fail to agitate the passions of the whole community, and to divide it into parties more or less friendly or inimical to the accused. In many cases it will connect itself with the pre-existing factions, and will enlist all their animosities, partialities, influence, and interest on one side or on the other; and in such cases there will always be the greatest danger that the decision will be regulated more by the comparative strength of parties, than by the real demonstrations of innocence or guilt.

"The delicacy and magnitude of a trust which so deeply concerns the political reputation and existence of every man engaged in the administration of public affairs, speak for themselves. The difficulty of placing it rightly, in a government resting entirely on the basis of periodical elections, will as readily be perceived, when it is considered that the most conspicuous characters in it will, from that circumstance, be too often the leaders or the tools of the most cunning or the most numerous faction, and on this account, can hardly be expected to possess the requisite neutrality towards those whose conduct may be the subject of scrutiny."

Hamilton was primarily discussing the role of the Senate as the impartial jury hearing evidence of impeachable crimes following the passage of articles of impeachment by the House of Representatives.  But the fundamental issue of partisan fury is really what is at stake.

I expected partisan fury from the Democratic and Republican members of the House Judiciary Committee, but I was shocked and disappointed that the three "constitutional scholars" called by the Democratic majority were shrill, angry, exaggerated and thoroughly partisan.  Their job was not to discuss the evidence against President Trump, but to provide the panel and the American people with clear and dispassionate insight into the minds of the Founders, the history of the three previous impeachment proceedings and how it applies to the current matter.

I was most shocked by the shrill and anger from Dr. Karlan of Stanford, who is clearly an accomplished legal scholar, but let her partisan passions color her presentation in a way that only contributed to the sense that the critical issue of presidential impeachment has been thoroughly hijacked–as Hamilton warned–by partisanship, factionalism and ulterior motives.

In contrast, Jonathan Turley of George Washington University, at least grasped the danger of partisan hijacking.  With no small bit of humor, he noted the angry mood that has infected the nation, joking that even his dog is angry.  He focused on the impeachment of President Andrew Johnson, arguing it was the closest parallel to the present situation with Donald Trump–precisely because of the heavy partisanship in the current situation.  

Turley also expressed alarm at the speed with which the impeachment has been carried out and at the lack of consideration of exculpatory evidence.  In his tone, he brought a degree of serious scholarship to an otherwise kangaroo process. And to make matters clear, he told the panel that he did not support President Trump, did not vote for him, and is not himself caught up in the passions of partisanship on either side of the aisle.  A President should not be impeached over an abrasive personality and a tendency to punch back first and ask questions later.  If that was the standard, Donald Trump would be guilty as charged.

The denigrating of the impeachment process into a partisan circus is not what the Founders intended.  Hamilton spoke clearly but the Democrats and their constitutional scholars were tone deaf.  Very disappointing for our nation.

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  1. Vegetius says:

    Hamilton may have spoke clearly but was writing about partisanship within an otherwise ethnically homogenous demos that no longer exists.
    If you are shocked by Karlan, you misunderstand the nature of what is going on here. There is an ethnic motivation – think of it as an ‘ulterior motive’ if it helps – that lies beneath, informs, inspires and ultimately suffuses every aspect of her partisanship.
    Anglo-American notions of good faith and fairplay are seen as weaknesses by Karlan and her tribe, which has so far dominated every aspect of both the current show-trial and the preceding Kavanaugh farce.
    Waving the Federalist or any other irrelevant piece of Enlightenment-era wishful thinking is a waste of time and effort and finally self-defeating.

  2. Rick Merlotti says:

    Hamilton was perhaps the greatest genius America has produced, with the possible exception of Ben Franklin. They would both be shocked and appalled by these partisan “scholars”. Good God, the level of intelligence in this nation has fallen precipitously since those days. Almost as much as our morals.

  3. turcopolier says:

    Rick Marlotti
    i prefer Jefferson but I take your point.

  4. Factotum says:

    Open hearings allow all of us to make up our own minds- about both content and delivery. This was a major fail yesterday. Turley has been warning about the expansive growth of the unelected fourth branch of government even during the Obama era when he was testifying against activist interpretation of express Obamacare terminology.
    The Founders did not contemplate nor provide for this post WWII expansion of the unelected and equally unresponsive fourth branch of government. We can thank JFK for weaponizing them once he granted government employees the right to unionize. And that is what we saw on display yesterday- weaponized government workers versus the rest of us.
    Where do we go next is the only discussion worthy of having. We should by now have moved well beyond shock and alarm. How do we limit and diminish a weaponized, unelected government workforce, who can over turn every single fundamental precept of our constitutional framework of governance. Suggestions please – we are at a critical juncture.
    Action plan: Identify and defang. What say you, Professor Turley?

  5. Murali Penumarthy says:

    You state “There is an ethnic motivation – think of it as an ‘ulterior motive’ if it helps – that lies beneath, informs, inspires and ultimately suffuses every aspect of her partisanship.” When I watched the hearings the ethnicity of 99% witnesses or attendees of the hearing seem to be white. So can you please explain where did this rainbow coalition spring from?

  6. Keith Harbaugh says:

    Some thought/suggestions on the impeachment:
    1. Col. Lang wrote an excellent post on ‘Who “debunked” the Biden conspiracy theories?’.
    I would like to suggest a companion post on ‘Who defines “the national interests of the United States” ‘.
    Motivation: Per the number one story of the 2019-12-04 NYT,

    House Democrats on Tuesday (12-03) asserted that
    President Trump abused his power
    by pressuring Ukraine to help him in the 2020 presidential election,
    releasing an impeachment report that found
    the president “placed his own personal and political interests above
    the national interests of the United States.”

    Leaving aside the obvious politics of this, I repeat the question in the title of my suggested post.
    The assumption of Dems and most of the MSM seems to be that Ukraine is somehow “vital to the U.S. national security”.
    Let us recall that during the Cold War, in fact from 1920 to 1991, Ukraine was part of the USSR.
    Did this fact damage U.S. national security or the U.S. national interest?
    Not to any significant degree, as betoken by the fact that the U.S. is widely acknowledged to have won the Cold War, as betoken by the breakup of the USSR.
    So if Ukraine was not essential to U.S. national security when the USSR was a very real and potent threat,
    why is Ukraine now considered, by so many of the ersatz “elite”, now “vital to U.S. …”?
    I think that is a question worth justifying and asking.
    2. Over and over again, we are told that the request for investigations of Ukraine are purely “for Trump’s personal political gain”.
    Again, really?
    Again, citing Col. Lang’s excellent post ‘Who “debunked” the Biden conspiracy theories?’,
    there are plenty of questions about the U.S./Ukraine connection, and related events in Ukraine, that deserve to be asked and answered.
    And not just by the MSM, that has made it more than clear that they are only interested in, and willing to, give one side of the story vis-a-vis Ukraine.
    C.f. John Solomon’s columns, where he has pointed out many issues warranting investigation,
    also the issues Rudy Giuliani keeps raising.
    Here is a suggestion:
    The left in America has a policy of floating public petitions on various issues, inviting Americans to “sign up” to endorse their favorite points of view.
    I think it would be good if a petition could be floated

  7. akaPatience says:

    There aren’t enough flags in the world for Nancy Pelosi to surround herself with that can mask the blatant tyranny of her majority’s actions in the House of Representatives. I’ve never witnessed so much intellectual dishonesty, hypocrisy and destruction of democracy as I have since the POTUS’ stunning victory in 2016. Leftists point to Clinton’s popular vote lead in that election, ignoring that Trump shrewdly campaigned with the Constitutional reality in mind of the role the Electoral College plays in the outcome.
    Democrats are driving us perilously close towards another civil war, which leads me to take back everything I ever said about gun control. I would’ve never dreamed before now that there could come a time when we’d have to take up arms against tyranny in the United States. Tragically, it just may come to that before too long if the corruption, unfairness and abuse continues.

  8. Fred says:

    I disagree. I believe Dr. Karlan of Stanford and the other two professors, Noah Feldman of Harvard and Michael Gerhardt The University of North Carolina School of Law, have done a great service to the Republic. To wit:
    1. They have shown that all three, but especially Dr. Karlan, are, due to their temperament, completely unqualified to be elevated to the Federal Judiciary – at any level.
    2. They have shown that Academia, espeically as represented by professors from two elite, private, tax exempt institutions, are peopled by individuals who are both vicious and highly partisan.
    3. That these bastions of alleged elite and principled thought, which consume billions in direct and indirect federal subsidies, are both lead by and produce second rate leaders fosued upon conformity to ideology. They are unconcerned with things such as economic influences on political events nor conditions of US citizens in our federal republic. They show more admiration of the conduct of foreign affairs by an institutional bureaucracy loyal to itself and it’s interpretation of the Constitution than they do to the powers specificly granted to the elected President therein.
    These are great services from the Triumvirate of Academia, for they show that we can safely cut these elite instituion subsidies by the billions; that degrees given by these instituions are of dubious value; and that firms hiring employees educated there my bring the closed minded partisianship and all that entails into the workplace. So thank you Dr. Kaplan, Mr. Feldman and Mr. Gerhadt. You have all done us all a great service.
    To Donald J. Trump I reccomned you call Betsy Devos and tell her to double down immediately. Then you need to direct every agency to audit every grant given to every one of these universities to see that they are actually following the law. Since, unlike aid to Ukriane, these dispursements of the taxpayer’s money DO come with strings attached.

  9. oldman22 says:

    Karlan, at the hearing:
    “This is not just about our national interests to protect elections or make sure Ukraine stays strong and fights the Russians so we don’t have to fight them here”
    smart but not wise
    I first became aware of Karlan during Bush v. Gore.
    She clerked for Justice Blackmun, who said she wrote the dissent for him in Bowers v, Hardwick. That dissent eventually became law when Bowers was overruled in Lawrence v. Texas.
    Stanford is very proud of Karlan:
    Karlan told Politico in 2009: “It’s no secret at all that I’m counted among the LGBT crowd”. She has described herself as an example of a “snarky, bisexual, Jewish women”.

  10. BrotherJoe says:

    I have a question for those knowledgeable about Constitutional law.
    If the president is impeached would he be able to use all the facilities of the executive branch to aid in his defence? For example, to use the FBI or Justice dept to investigate his accusers. On the one hand it seems to me that this could be allowed as being a defence of the office of the presidency; on the other hand I could see where it would be considered as using his office for personal “gain”.
    If this question has been answered in another post I apologize.

  11. Bobo says:

    There must be something else going on between now and Christmas for the Democrats to be in such a rush to Impeach the President with no fact based witnesses within their case. Whatever it may be it must be a doozy. Listening to legal scholars yesterday left me thinking, Wow, now I know what the Salem Witch Trials were like with 3/4 stating hang him in many ways and 1/4 offering reasonable advice as he believed there was no case but maybe there will be if they try harder. So it’s off to the Senate and that is not a slam dunk.

  12. turcopolier says:

    He meant Jewish but did not want to say it.

  13. Factotum says:

    Karlan proved how woke it is to be anti-Trump in California. She never once even looked down her nose at all that fly-over land, before she arriving at the Wash Dc hearing.
    Going for a cheap laugh at a kid’s expense is par for the course in woke California academia.

  14. Factotum says:

    In this case since the deep state are his accusers, he is better off with his own independent counsel. Good question, but somehow I doubt it since impeachment defense would be personal- not institutional. Hope someone has a better answer.

  15. Factotum says:

    Everything since Trump was elected has been a national civics lesson, hasn’t it. Which is a good thing – what the heck is that few page document written hundreds of years ago that still binds us together today? Back to basics and renewal of our vows.

  16. Fred says:

    Using instruments of state power to spy on political opponents is wrong, using foreign governments to launder the evidence and give plausible deniability is what the Obama administration did. Schiff’s latest with subpoenas of his political opponents’s (and reporters) phone records is aok since he’s “investigating” alleged misconduct. Its a fun political maneuver with no potential for abuse now or in the futre, especially since demographics is destiny and soon the left will be elected into permanent leadership of the Republic, just like they’ve been telling us for years.

  17. oldman22 says:

    Karlan has a BA, an MA, and a JD. She does not have a PhD. It is not usual to call an attorney “Dr.” in the USA. But it is common in latin america.

  18. artemesia says:

    Facebook punished Rick Wiles at TruNews for airing a program titled “The Jew Coup” and naming the numerous Jewish persons involved.
    Forward Magazine
    Times of Israel
    and Weekly
    did precisely the same thing.
    They were not suffer the fate of Rick Wiles.
    Haaretz, The Jewish Journal, and UK Independent reported on Rick Wiles’s reporting.
    The author of the Forward mag article quipped: “As in many political scandals of America’s recent history, now that Jews have successfully accessed the once-WASPy upper echelons of the federal government, we can now say with certainty, “Where there’s smoke there’s lox.” ”
    Pundits and reporters have no trouble telling untruths about Iran, Russia, China, even Ukraine.
    Why such a problem with reporting facts about the people who are interpreting US Constitution and seeking to handicap the president?
    Jewish people, and even Jews of Ukrainian origin, have outsized influence on the proceedings.
    That colors the interpretation of motives and events.
    Wouldn’t it be a healthier political climate and culture if

  19. artemesia says:

    I merely scanned a report about Joe Biden talking about his hairy legs.
    Are Dems eager to get this thing over with so Joe can be slipped quietly out of the limelight and into the care of professionals in a well-staffed old folks home?
    After all, if Biden drops out of the race before the impeachment is set in concrete, won’t the Dems have lost a key element of their argument?
    Perhaps he and Pelosi could get adjoining rooms.

  20. Jim Ticehurst says:

    As you said..with frequent Honesty Sir…Jewish…The Ones who desire Positions of Power..Influence.and andbe able to Manipulate People..and Events for Self Serving Objectives..with Strategic Purpose… .to Be Specific…Who is leading Congress..in the Rage against President Donald Trump..and Why..this” Crucify Him” Mob..?? These Impeachement Hearings are Lead by New York Democrat Chairman Jerry Nadler..The only Yeshiva educated Member of Congress.Orthodox Jewish…His Chief Counsel sitting next to Him…Norman Eisen..first Generation Americanand son of Jewish Immingrants from who was friends With Obama at Harvard.Law School…was later President Obamas Counsel…and also was President Obama,s Ambassador to Czechlosavakia..(sp) for 3 years…and there were attempts to get Westinghouse Contracts to build Nuclear Plants there,and Third…Professor Noah Feldman..Harvard..and Fourth The very radical Jewish Professor..Pmala Karlan from Stanford…Manifesting the Same Diabolical..Bizzare,, very clear Deep Hatred and Contempt for Donald Trump .A President who is Clear in His Belief in God..His Belief in Biblical Teachings..His Faith In Jesus Christ as The Messiah… The Son of God and .These Events to Me..Are Far beyond Political..The are Spiritual in Nature.I Pray for Our Nation..The Preservation of Our Constitution..and The Safety of The President…

  21. akaPatience says:

    How about employee attrition on a massive scale for starters?

  22. Seamus Padraig says:

    Sadly, I think you are on to something here.

  23. Seamus Padraig says:

    A President should not be impeached over an abrasive personality and a tendency to punch back first and ask questions later.

    That’s an odd way of phrasing it. Usually, if another person punches you first, you can punch back automatically without having to ask any questions at all. But it’s basically a good description of how Trump operates anyway, I guess.

  24. Upstate NY'er says:

    Karlin, self described as “bisexual.”
    Take a look at her.
    More like “non-sexual.”

  25. turcopolier says:

    upstate NY’er
    Chelsea Manning is more attractive.

  26. Jack says:

    Why is Nancy in a rush? I suppose since she’s got the votes to impeach on a purely partisan party line vote she may as well get it done sooner than later. And pass the ball to Mitch.
    The NeverTrump media will have a field day as the amplify quotes from Romney and the other Republican senators who will vote to convict. The question is what process will Mitch follow, will he give Trump the right to call witnesses and cross examine which was denied him by Nancy. Will Mitch match Nancy’s partisanship in the impeachment trial?
    My question will Trump have the balls to call Obama as a witness to testify under oath to get to what did he know and when in relation to Spygate? Will Trump attempt to prove to the Senate that there has been a pattern of abuse to frame him even before he was elected? The rubber is gonna meet the road soon enough as the Senate trial begins and we learn what rules Mitch gonna apply. Will 20 Republican senators join the Democrats to convict him?

  27. Bill H says:

    If you read Turley regularly, as I do, you will not be quit so sanguine about his position. He strongly favors impeachment and advocates doing so, and is disappointed only the Democrats have not yet found adequate grounds with which to do so. In his routine writings he is constantly urging Democrats to find a better basis upon which to proceed with the impeachment, and has never once pointed out the wrongness of calling for impeachment before finding a crime to fit the process.
    The process properly would be that the president is accused of a specific crime, and the call for impeachment follows. Here we have the call for impeachment first. So the basis of “collusion” was first used a grounds for that impeachment, and failed. Then “obstruction of justice” was tried and never got off the ground. Then they drummed up a “whistle blower” to accuse Trump of doing what Joe Biden bragged of doing, and are trying to float that as grounds for impeachment, while denying that Joe Biden ever did what he bragged about doing.
    And none of that prompted these “law scholars,” Turley included, to say that the impeachment concept in this instance was in and of itself bogus?

  28. blue peacock says:

    “Hamilton spoke clearly but the Democrats and their constitutional scholars were tone deaf.”
    What the Democrats don’t get is that by “weaponizing” impeachment as just another partisan political tool, as Rep. Al Green noted that they need to impeach Trump or else he’ll be re-elected, that what goes around comes around. They will now normalize that either party that has a majority in the House can impeach a President of the opposing party for any or no reason. The impeachment inquiry can now be made into a completely partisan affair with the opposing party and the accused President having no due process rights. We have now devolved into complete Banana Republic status and the two centuries of constitutional norms have been completely shredded. We have also now entered into straight out partisan warfare with no guideposts like the constitution to temper the behavior of the political, governmental and business leadership. Naked power is what’s it all about from now on.

  29. JerseyJeffersonian says:

    Jack, Sundance has a plausible theory, given that McConell is a total Swamp Boy: https://theconservativetreehouse.com/2019/12/05/the-senate-and-impeachment-dynamic/#more-177899

  30. turcopolier says:

    You can have McConnell or you can have a 1984 style socialist state.

  31. Fred says:

    To frame or control the narrative. All upcoming indictments, if any are issued, will be labelled unjust retaliation by Trump.

  32. akaPatience says:

    I respect Sundance but can McConnell truly hope to win re-election in 2020 if he triggers Trump’s wrath during Senate impeachment proceedings? I doubt it — the people of KY seem to love the POTUS.

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