Jonathan Turley

Jonathan Turley says ‘partisan troll’ Nancy Pelosi needs to apologize or step down as House Speaker

Constitutional scholar Jonathan Turley blasted “partisan troll” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi Wednesday for tearing up President Trump’s State of the Union speech, calling for her to apologize or step down. “Her conduct tore up more than a speech, but decades of tradition and left any semblance of civility in tatters on the House floor,” Turley wrote on his website. Turley explained that he “marveled at the beehive of activity on the floor in the People’s House” when he was able to visit as a Democratic 15-year-old page over four decades ago. “The country was deeply divided, but both parties maintained the tradition of civility and decorum. I was struck how members, even in the heat of furious debates, would not attack each other by name and followed rigid principles of decorum. They understood that they were the custodians of this institution and bore a duty to strengthen and pass along those traditions to the next generation,” Turley wrote. “That is why I was (and remain) so offended by this display.” Turley — who was called before the House Judiciary Committee to argue against impeachment — feels that Trump “is worthy of criticism for not shaking the hand of Pelosi” and he didn’t approve of some aspects of the speech, but that doesn’t excuse Pelosi’s behavior. “At that moment, she represents the House as an institution — both Republicans and Democrats. Instead, she decided to become little more than a partisan troll from an elevated position,” Turley wrote. “It was the tradition of the House that a speaker must remain in stone-faced neutrality no matter what comes off that podium. The tradition ended last night with one of the more shameful and inglorious moments of the House in its history.” Pelosi ripped up her copy of Trump’s speech as soon as it concluded on Tuesday night in a remarkable scene that has shocked pundits and lawmakers. Asked about the moment by Fox News afterward, Pelosi said she had destroyed the speech “because it was the courteous thing to do considering the alternatives.” She also said she was “trying to find one page with truth on it” but “couldn’t.” Turley concluded his column by calling for Pelosi to either apologize or let someone else do her prestigious job. “For those of us who truly love the House as an institution, it was one of the lowest moments to unfold on the floor… if Pelosi does not apologize and agree to honor the principle of neutrality and civility at the State of the Union, she should resign as speaker,” he wrote. Turley is the Shapiro Professor of public interest law at George Washington University and a practicing criminal defense attorney.

I too was totally stunned at what Nancy did last night.  It was a breathtaking lack of class and made her look like s 16 year old girl that didn’t make the pom pom squad.  It was below the office of Speaker and brought discredit upon herself, the Democratic party, and then House of Representatives.  Shame on her.  At the very least she should apologize for her lack of class, and be censured by the full House.  Then, she should resign.  She is unworthy of that office.  Speaker Pelosi is not just a “partisan troll” as Professor Turley suggests, she’s a disgusting, arrogant, self-serving, partisan tool.  We deserve better from our politicians.

Jonathan Turley: Pelosi ‘played into’ McConnell’s hands, ‘destroyed’ her own case for impeachment

Constitutional law professor Jonathan Turley laid out a sweeping indictment of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., arguing that her impeachment strategy backfired and gave Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., the upper hand. “The delay now seems largely driven by a desire to preserve the image of Pelosi as a master strategist despite a blunder of the first order,” Turley wrote in a column titled, “Pelosi’s Blunder: How the House Destroyed its Own Case for Impeachment.” His comments came as Pelosi prepared to transmit articles of impeachment to the Senate, roughly a month after the House approved them. She initially withheld them in an apparent attempt to draw concessions from McConnell. On Wednesday she announced the seven lawmakers who will serve as impeachment managers to prosecute the case against the president at his Senate trial. “There was no reason why Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell would make concessions to get an impeachment that he loathed,” Turley wrote. Turley similarly suggested that Pelosi pushed impeachment out of “vanity” and would pay a “high price” for doing so. “The fact is that Pelosi played into the hands of McConnell by first rushing this impeachment forward with an incomplete record and now giving him the excuse to summarily change the rules, or even to dismiss the articles,” he said. “Waiting for the House to submit a list of managers was always a courtesy extended by Senate rules and not a requirement of the Constitution. By inappropriately withholding the articles of impeachment and breaking with tradition, Pelosi simply gave McConnell ample reason to exercise the “nuclear option” and change the rules on both majority voting as well as the rule for the start of trials. That is a high price to pay for vanity.” On Twitter, Turley also derided a presser in which Pelosi announced her list of impeachment managers for the Senate’s trial. “Speaker Pelosi’s statement that ‘time has been our friend’ is bizarre,” Turley tweeted. “The new evidence and witnesses could have been part of the record with actual testimony and discovery by the House. Instead, she did nothing for 4 weeks and hoped for the tide to bring flotsam wreckage.” Turley previously testified before the House Judiciary Committee as part of the Democrats’ impeachment inquiry. During that testimony, he cautioned House members against hastily pursuing impeachment. “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,” Turley previously said.

Exactly!  And well said, professor.

Turley: Cohen lied, broke the law and used Trump to get rich – and now blames Trump for his troubles

In his federal court sentencing hearing Wednesday, President Trump’s former personal attorney Michael Cohen cut a tragic figure of his own making as he tried to convince a judge to spare him from prison for a host of crimes ranging from tax fraud to bank fraud to lying to Congress. He claimed he was a trusting soul undone by the ambition and the machinations of an evil man – Donald Trump. It played out like a modern take on the Tennessee Williams play “A Streetcar Named Desire.” All that was missing was that signature line of the character Blanche DuBois: “Whoever you are … I have always depended on the kindness of strangers.” Blanche was describing her life of woe to a doctor escorting her to a mental hospital. But her line could have been easily added to Cohen’s plea to U.S. District Judge William H. Pauley III in New York City. The former Trump “fixer” and lawyer – who made millions of dollars off his connection to Trump and illegal business dealings – is now a disgraced confessed criminal facing three years in prison (set to begin March 6) and $2 million in fines, forfeitures and restitution. His legal career is over and he easily fits the role of the type of train-wrecked characters that Tennessee Williams loved. In “A Streetcar Named Desire” Blanche DuBois is a riveting character – imperfect, degraded and ultimately destitute. According to his narrative before Judge Pauley, Cohen has lived much of his professional life like a modern Blanche DuBois. Cohen’s tragedy was presented as a tale of affairs gone bad and women scorned, with a cast of opportunists and sycophants. Cohen latched onto Trump as a powerful man who was his ticket to fortune and the good life. But Cohen’s good life shattered when he was caught up in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into whether the Trump presidential campaign colluded with Russia to win the 2016 presidential election. Mueller’s probe has widened like spider’s web, growing larger and larger and ultimately snaring Cohen for conduct having little to do with Russia. Indeed, most of the crimes were not even linked to Trump. Cohen’s sentencing Wednesday came on his earlier guilty pleas to multiple counts of business and tax fraud. He also pleaded guilty to making an excessive contribution to the Trump campaign involving two women who claimed they had extramarital affairs with Trump – claims Trump denies. Cohen also pleaded guilty to making false statements to Congress regarding unsuccessful efforts to build a Trump Tower in Moscow. When Trump didn’t protect Cohen with a pardon or intervention, Cohen turned to Mueller and began to publicly praise him while criticizing Trump. For his part, Mueller was clearly receptive to Cohen entreaties. While federal prosecutors in the Southern District of New York portrayed Cohen as a liar, manipulator and felon, Mueller undermined their effort to secure a longer prison sentence against Cohen by saying that Cohen is now redeemed and cooperative. Indeed, this remake could be called “A Special Counsel Named Desire.” Mueller’s desire to build a case against President Trump – the man who Cohen described as being responsible for his undoing and leading him into “darkness” – is so overwhelming that he undercut other federal prosecutors. In the end however neither Mueller nor the U.S. attorney in the Southern District of New York would recommend a sentence of zero jail time. Cohen sought mercy based on the kindness of another stranger, Judge Pauley. The tragic story of Cohen is fascinating precisely because it is so grotesque. He made a career as a legal thug who bluffed and bullied his way into millions. Even as prosecutors were closing in on him for tax fraud, bank fraud and perjury, Cohen got companies like AT&T to give him millions of dollars for access and influence over President Trump. It didn’t matter that Cohen was bluffing about his great influence over the president of the United States and that he couldn’t deliver on his extravagant claims of being an influence peddler worth millions to his clients. As Blanche said: “I know I fib a good deal. After all, a woman’s charm is 50 percent illusion.” Few saw much charm in Cohen, but prosecutors laid out how his business and legal practices were virtually 100 percent illusion. At his sentencing hearing, Cohen described his tragic Blanche-like life as being undone by a man who was no good. He proclaimed: “I have been living in a personal and mental incarceration ever since the day that I accepted the offer to work for a real estate mogul whose business acumen that I deeply admired.” Falling for Trump led Cohen to choose “darkness over light,” Cohen said. Fighting back tears, he said that he is a “weak” man who “felt it was my duty to cover up his (Trump’s) dirty deeds.” For Tennessee Williams fans, it all seemed too familiar. Blanche explained how she rode a streetcar named Desire to her doom: “It brought me here. Where I’m not wanted and where I’m ashamed to be.” And it was the same unrestrained desire that brought Cohen to this moment. His desire for money and power – matched by an endless willingness to lie and break the law to achieve it. Like Blanche, Cohen had no difficulty making threats – in his case to journalists, students or anyone Trump wanted out of the way. And Cohen had no difficulty lying about everything to everyone. After all, like Blanche, he seemed to accept that “I don’t tell truths. I tell what ought to be truth.” At his sentencing, Cohen threw himself on the kindness of the stranger judging his fate by saying that, after his long and sleazy journey: “I promise I will be better.” The only thing missing was the coquettish flick of a fan and the sound of a rattling streetcar. Yet in the end, Cohen seemed surprised by the relatively lenient three-year prison sentence Judge Pauley gave him. Some media commentators concluded that Cohen actually hoped that his cooperation and plea for mercy would leave the judge entirely disarmed and charmed. It didn’t, though three years in prison was substantially below what Cohen deserved for years of defrauding the public, banks and the government – as well as lying to Congress. Cohen will now seek to please Mueller with the same abandon as he sought to please Trump. The disgraced lawyer could implicate figures in the White House in the creation of his false narrative given to both Congress and investigators. And he could then return to federal court with a motion for a further reduction of his prison sentence. In truth, Cohen has already benefitted from the kindness of strangers with the help of Mueller and the generous sentencing reduction given by Judge Pauley. Cohen is not done, because like Blanche DuBois he’s “got to be with somebody” or he is just a nobody doing time. Mueller is now that somebody, but he might want to consider Blanche DuBois’ secret to attracting strangers: “I want to deceive him enough to make him – want me.”

Jonathan Turley is the Shapiro professor of public Iiterest law at George Washington University and a practicing criminal defense attorney.

Opinion/Analysis: When will the media accept that Trump is not a criminal target?

In terminal medical cases, doctors often deal with patients who move through “stages” that begin with denial. These so-called Kübler-Ross stages can be a long road toward acceptance. A weird form of Kübler-Ross seems to have taken hold of the media. Rather than refusing to accept indicators of impending death, many journalists and analysts seem incapable of accepting signs that the Trump presidency could survive. That painful process was more evident Tuesday night when the Washington Post reported that special counsel Robert Mueller told the White House last month that Trump was not considered a “target” but only a “subject” of the investigation. After a year of being assured that “bombshell” developments and “smoking gun” evidence was sealing the criminal case against Trump, the dissonance was too great for many who refuse to accept the obvious meaning of this disclosure. The U.S. Attorney’s manual defines a “subject” as a “person whose conduct is within the scope of the grand jury’s investigation.” It is a designation that can change but it is also a meaningful description of the current status of an individual. Mueller at this time apparently does not believe Trump meets the definition of a target or a “person as to whom the prosecutor or the grand jury has substantial evidence linking him or her to the commission of a crime and who, in the judgment of the prosecutor, is a putative defendant.” That would have been less notable when Mueller was appointed in 2017 than it is now, after more than a year, dozens of criminal counts, hundreds of thousands of documents, and a bevy of cooperating witnesses. That Mueller does not believe there is “substantial evidence linking [Trump] to the commission of a crime” would seem to merit some, albeit grudging, recognition. However, there has been a disturbing lack of objectivity in the coverage of this investigation from the start. Throughout it, some of us have cautioned that the criminal case against Trump was far weaker than media suggested. Fired FBI Director James Comey himself told Congress that Trump was not a target of his investigation. Indeed, Trump was reportedly upset with Comey largely because Comey would not say that publicly. When Trump fired Comey, I supported the call for a special counsel, and I still support Mueller in completing his investigation. However, the case of criminal conduct by Trump has not materially improved over the last year. Last October, Mueller brought the first indictments against former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his deputy, Richard Gates. Notably, none of the indictments were linked to the campaign, let alone Trump. When that obvious point was raised, we were told that it meant nothing and Mueller was likely holding back the really damaging indictments while pressuring Trump aides. Commentators continue to announce “bombshell” disclosures against Trump on a daily basis, with experts alleging clear cases for treason to obstruction to witness tampering and other crimes. Then, in November, came the disclosure of plea agreements with former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn and former campaign foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos. However, these pleas were for making individual false statements to federal investigators. Neither the charges nor the narratives in the filings tied Trump or his campaign to any criminal act. Later indictments involving lawyer Alex van der Zwaan and internet operator Richard Pinedo involved a false statement and a single count of identity fraud, again unrelated to Trump or his campaign. Nevertheless, commentators insisted Mueller was just laying the groundwork for his major filing. In February, Mueller handed down indictments of 13 Russian nationals and three Russian organizations for election-related crimes, from hacking to identity fraud. Not only did these charges not implicate Trump or his campaign, but the filing expressly stated that no one in the Trump campaign knowingly engaged Russians in these efforts. Now, Mueller reportedly has said he does not consider Trump a “target” of the criminal investigation. Looking at each of the prior filings, the disclosure would seem consistent with a lack of compelling evidence of a crime by Trump. Indeed, it would indicate Trump’s status has not changed from when Comey told Congress that Trump was not a target. Still, some analysts immediately denied that Mueller’s disclosure was anything but bad news for Trump. On CNN, legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin insisted that “being a ‘subject’ is a very serious thing” and a “very significant designation” because it is clear “the FBI is investigating the president.” Of course, the only lower designation in a criminal investigation would be “witness.” Moreover, it was confirmed last year that Trump was being investigated. The obvious point is that, after months of investigating Trump, Mueller still does not have sufficient evidence to make him a “target.” True, a “subject” can become a “target” and a “target” can then become a “defendant,” but so can a “witness.” Clearly, Trump is a subject since he was the subject of the election itself and directly involved in the underlying matters under investigation. What is new is that Mueller confirmed Trump’s status has not changed. Later, CNN analyst John Dean declared that an assurance Trump is not a target “does not mean a whole lot.” Dean’s rationale was that a president “cannot be indicted,” so Mueller would never have listed him as a target, regardless of the evidence. First and foremost, some of us believe a president can be indicted in office. While there is disagreement, including within the Justice Department and past independent counsels, the Supreme Court has never accepted such immunity from indictment. More important, even if true, such immunity would not mean Mueller would declare Trump is not a target. Rather, Trump would remain a target as an unindicted co-conspirator or simply an unindicted person pending impeachment. Once impeached, he still could be indicted. Thus, it would be both illogical and unethical for Mueller to say Trump is not a target when he was pursuing possible charges, either as an unindicted co-conspirator or a post-impeachment defendant. CNN analyst Philip Mudd was not satisfied with the “soft” depictions of the Mueller disclosure and declared that it was devastating news that Mueller was now investigating Trump and that, if Trump were declared a subject, “I would wet my pants.” CNN analyst Ryan Lizza went even further, suggesting that this was all a sham and Mueller is playing “chess to get the president into an interview.” Of course, such a bait-and-switch would be unethical in making false representations to the president’s counsel if Trump is already considered a target. This continued refusal to acknowledge positive developments for Trump is a disturbing pathology. Just because Trump is a subject of investigation does not mean he cannot become a target. Moreover, Mueller as expected has indicated he will prepare a report on his investigation. This still is a positive development for Trump. It shows that Trump’s status has not materially changed but neither has the status of much of the coverage. Many media commentators clearly are stuck on denial and are a long way from acceptance in dealing with the legal status of Donald Trump.

Indeed..  The dominantly liberal mainstream media is pathological in its coverage of this issue, and of Trump in general.  The man could find the cure for cancer, and they’d ask, “could he have found it sooner?  How many lives were lost because he didn’t tell us sooner?”  The other day a poll came out which said that over 70% of Americans believe CNN and other similar news outlets put out “fake news” regularly.  70%!!  The American people get it, even if the liberal media doesn’t.  Thanks to well-respected constitutional law professor Jonathan Turley for that outstanding legal analysis.  Professor Turley is a Democrat who voted for Hillary.  And, he freely admits he was for the idea of a Special Counsel after Trump fired Comey; something he had every right to do as President.  So, the man is hardly on the Trump Train.  He’s just an honest liberal calling it as he sees it.  And, we appreciate that.

Obama executive actions seen as threat to Constitution

Obama executive actions seen as threat to Constitution

While I think a more effective approach is for Congress to simply cut off funding for Obama’s excessive, and unconstitutional programs (mostly domestic).  That would be the fastest way to put a stop to Obama’s abuse of his office, I think.  But, this lawsuit may be another way to address the clear imbalance between the two branches of our federal government.  I’m no lawyer.  But, if a well-respected attorney, and law professor, like Jonathan Turley thinks its a good idea, then I’ll yield to his knowledge and experience.  Stay tuned..