Attorney Jonathan Turley has warned that the impending impeachment of Donald Trump over the storming of Capitol Hill sets the precedent that presidents can be impeached for the actions of their supporters.
Top Democrats say they “have the votes” to introduce articles of impeachment against Trump for “inciting an insurrectionist mob” during last week’s incident.
The text of the resolution accuses Trump of “willfully inciting violence against the Government of the United States.”
However, according to attorney Jonathan Turley, Trump’s speech to his supporters before the occupation of the Capitol “does not meet the definition of incitement under the U.S. criminal code” and “would be considered protected speech by the Supreme Court.”
FINAL DRAFT of article of impeachment against President Trump, titled “Incitement of Insurrection.”
The article is expected to be introduced Monday by Reps. Ciciline, Lieu, and Raskin, and has more than 200 Democratic co-sponsors. pic.twitter.com/DAZle1w59g
— NBC News (@NBCNews) January 11, 2021
Turley says that the real danger would be to normalize “snap impeachments,” gut free speech and “create precedent for the impeachment of any president who can be blamed for the violent acts of others after the use of reckless or inflammatory language.”
“There was no call for lawless action by Trump. Instead, there was a call for a protest at the Capitol,” he writes.
“Moreover, violence was not imminent; the vast majority of the tens of thousands of protesters present were not violent before the march, and most did not riot inside the Capitol. Like many violent protests we have witnessed over the last four years, including Trump’s 2017 inauguration, the criminal conduct was carried out by a smaller group of instigators. Capitol police knew of the planned march but declined an offer of National Guard personnel because they did not view violence as likely.”
Despite the hysteria that has been generated by the media surrounding the Capitol Hill storming, most analysts say a second attempt at impeaching Trump would ultimately fail, primarily because many lawmakers fear it would just stir up more anger and distract from Joe Biden’s first 100 days as president.
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