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The GW Hatchet


The GW Hatchet

Serving the GW Community since 1904

The GW Hatchet

Law professor testifies in Biden impeachment inquiry hearing

Professor Jonathan Turley served as an expert witness in President Joe Biden’s first impeachment inquiry hearing Thursday.
File Photo by Allison Robbert | Senior Staff Photographer

GW Law professor Jonathan Turley testified at a Thursday hearing marking the start of an impeachment inquiry for President Joe Biden, arguing there isn’t yet evidence of an impeachable offense but that an investigation should still occur.

House Republicans accused the president of improperly benefitting from international payments to members of his family — namely his son, Hunter Biden — and began hearings Thursday to determine whether to impeach the commander in chief. But Turley argued there’s not enough evidence of wrongdoing by the president to warrant impeachment, though he said a deeper investigation should still be carried out.

House Republicans allege that Biden improperly benefitted from Hunter Biden’s international business deals, accusing the president of using public office to help support the deals. Biden has denied the allegations.

Turley was one of four witnesses who spoke before the House Oversight Committee about legal and constitutional questions related to the impeachment inquiry. The law professor submitted a 36-page written statement before testifying live Thursday.

“I have previously stated that, while I believe that an impeachment inquiry is warranted, I do not believe that the evidence currently meets the standard of a high crime and misdemeanor needed for an article of impeachment,” Turley said in the statement.

Turley outlined facts and history regarding the so-called “influence peddling” but cautioned against asserting the current evidence as grounds for impeachment.

“My testimony also reflects the fact that I do believe that, after months of investigation, the House has passed the threshold for an inquiry into whether President Joe Biden was directly involved or benefited from the corrupt practices of his son, Hunter, and others,” he wrote.

House Republicans claim the president lied about not being involved in Hunter Biden’s business deals, pointing to alleged phone calls, meetings and wire transfers from a Chinese businessman to Hunter Biden that use the president’s home address, according to the Washington Post.

Ian Sams, a spokesperson for White House Counsel’s Office, sent a memo to national media organizations Sept. 12 arguing that House Republicans are engaging in a “baseless” inquiry of Biden’s actions without evidence of high crime and misdemeanor. The memo includes a 14-page appendix on seven “key lies” House Republicans are using for their impeachment argument, including that Biden engaged in a bribery scheme with a foreign national and that the Biden Administration is “stonewalling” congressional investigations.

“It’s time for the media to ramp up its scrutiny of House Republicans for opening an impeachment inquiry based on lies,” Sams said in the memo.

Turley has become a mainstay at impeachment-related hearings on Capitol Hill.

In 1998, Turley testified in impeachment hearings for former President Bill Clinton, arguing his alleged perjury in lying under oath constituted a high crime and misdemeanor worthy of impeachment.

In 2019, Turley testified against the impeachment of former President Donald Trump, saying the phone call in which Trump allegedly asked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate Biden — then a presidential candidate — was not “compelling evidence” for articles of impeachment.

Turley declined to represent Trump in the former president’s 2021 impeachment trial. Trump was acquitted by the Senate in February 2021 after the House impeached him for allegedly inciting the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol in an attempt to undermine the results of the 2020 election.

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