Constitutional attorney and law professor Jonathan Turley starred in the Republicans’ opening salvo in the Biden impeachment inquiry, which kicked off on Thursday.
Turley has been the focus of Democrat spin claiming that he does not support the impeachment inquiry, which is not the case.
But firstly, Turley dispelled the myth that “smoking gun” evidence of direct payments to Joe Biden showing a quid pro quo is necessary to impeach the sitting president.
“Professor Turley, false statements, influence-peddling scheme, and Joe Biden might’ve benefited,” Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) said. “Let’s do the third one. First, is a benefit to your family? Can a benefit to your family be a benefit to you?”
“It is,” Turley remarked. “There’s been repeated statements ‘that you need to show that President Biden accepted direct money’ in order for this to constitute a benefit, even under criminal cases that deal with bribery, extortion, and the Hobbes Act. The courts actually have rejected that. They’ve said that money going to family members is in fact a benefit and I don’t really see any legal basis for that. Obviously, the strongest case is if you have a direct payment. But this idea that you can have millions going to a politician’s family and that’s not a benefit, I think it’s pretty fallacious.”
Turley is not alone in this evaluation of the bribery and extortion laws.
“There are cases in which payments made to family members can be treated as bribery of the principle if he is aware of it,” Harvard Law Professor Emeritus Alan Dershowitz told the Daily Caller News Foundation in August.
Former federal prosecutor and FBI consultant Joseph Moreno told the DCNF that federal law makes it a crime “for a public official to directly or indirectly receive something of value in return for being influenced in the performance of any official act.”
“So in establishing whether there was a quid pro quo, prosecutors would have to prove that something was demanded or received by a public official (including the President) in exchange for some official act (i.e., approving foreign aid, putting pressure on a foreign official),” he explained. “This can be done via a direct payment or gift to a public official, or an indirect one through, say, a family member or business associate.”
A payment accepted through a family member could also be relevant in an impeachment trial, where the standard leading to removing a president is easier to meet and does not “require a statutory violation,” he added.
“Impeachment by the House (Art. I, Section 2) and trial by the Senate is for when a President commits ‘high Crimes and Misdemeanors,’ which is not a term defined in the Constitution but has largely been considered to be whatever Congress deems to be,” he said. “So if Congress wants to impeach and try President Biden for benefitting from improper payments received through his son or other family members, it is free to do so.”
Furthermore, Turley’s full remarks on the justification for the Biden impeachment inquiry dispel the media spin that the legal scholar dismissed the basis of the investigation.
“Then it was just three years ago that another impeachment occurred without any hearings at all,” Turley noted. “The shortening intervals between impeachments should be a cause of concern and circumspection for all the members on both sides, and I want to emphasize what it is that we’re here today for.”
“This is a question of an impeachment inquiry,” he continued. “It is not a vote on articles of impeachment. In fact, I do not believe that the current evidence would support articles of impeachment. That is something that an inquiry has to establish, but I also do believe that the House has passed the threshold for an impeachment inquiry into the conduct of President Biden.”