Stanford law professor testifies to Trump's 'abuse of power' in House Judiciary Committee | News | Mountain View Online |


Stanford law professor testifies to Trump's 'abuse of power' in House Judiciary Committee

Pamela Karlan among 3 scholars who say president's actions with Ukraine meet legal standard for impeachable offenses

Pamela Karlan, Stanford Law School professor and co-director of the school's Supreme Court Litigation Clinic, was one of three legal scholars who testified in front of the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday that President Donald Trump has committed impeachable offenses in his efforts to pressure Ukraine.

"Based on the evidentiary record, what has happened in the case before you is something that I do not think we have ever seen before: a president who has doubled down on violating his oath to 'faithfully execute' the laws and to 'protect and defend the Constitution,'" she said in her opening statement. "The evidence reveals a president who used the powers of his office to demand that a foreign government participate in undermining a competing candidate for the presidency."

Karlan was called by the Democrats to testify, along with Harvard University professor Noah Feldman and University of North Carolina professor Michael Gerhardt. All three agreed Trump's actions with Ukraine met the legal standard for impeachable offenses.

"Everything I know about our Constitution and its values, and my review of the evidentiary record, tells me that when President Trump invited — indeed, demanded — foreign involvement in our upcoming election, he struck at the very heart of what makes this country the 'republic' to which we pledge allegiance," she said. "That demand constituted an abuse of power."

Jonathan Turley, a law professor at George Washington University who was invited to testify by the committee's Republicans (and testified during former President Bill Clinton's impeachment hearings), disagreed, stating 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."

In Karlan's opening statement, she compared Trump's now infamous July 25 phone call with the president of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky, to the president responding to a U.S. governor's request for disaster assistance with a request for a political favor in exchange for relief funds.

"Imagine living in a part of Louisiana or Texas that's prone to devastating hurricanes and flooding. What would you think if, when your governor asked the federal government for the disaster assistance that Congress has provided, the President responded, 'I would like you to do us a favor. I'll meet with you and send the disaster relief once you brand my opponent a criminal.'?" Karlan said. "Wouldn't you know in your gut that such a president had abused his office, betrayed the national interest, and tried to corrupt the electoral process?"

Karlan made headlines for firing back at Rep. Doug Collins, a ranking committee member from Georgia, after he suggested that the law professors "couldn't have possibly actually digested" a report on the House Intelligence Committee's impeachment hearings.

"I would like to say to you, sir, that I read transcripts of every one of the witnesses who appeared in the live hearing because I would not speak about these things without reviewing the facts," Karlan retorted. "I'm insulted by the suggestion that as a law professor I don't care about those facts."

Karlan was blasted for making a comment about Trump's son, Barron Trump, during the hearing to make the point that the president cannot be treated like a king. She later apologized for the comment.

Karlan has taught at Stanford since 1998 and is described in her university biography as "one of the nation's leading experts on voting and the political process." Her primary scholarly interests are in the areas of constitutional litigation and the law of democracy. She is also the co-author of several leading casebooks, according to her biography.

She's been on lists for possible Supreme Court nominees. In 2009, The New York Times described her as "a champion of gay rights, criminal defendants' rights and voting rights ... considered brilliant, outspoken and, in her own words, 'sort of snarky.'"

Karlan has served as a commissioner on the California Fair Political Practices Commission; an assistant counsel and cooperating attorney for the NAACP Legal Defense Fund; and a deputy assistant attorney general in the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice. During her time at the Department of Justice, she received the department's highest award for employee performance for her role on the team responsible for implementing the Supreme Court's decision in United States v. Windsor, which ruled a section of the Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional.

In October, Karlan argued in front of the Supreme Court that federal civil rights law protects employees from job discrimination because of their sexual orientation.

Before her teaching career, Karlan served as a law clerk to Justice Harry A. Blackmun of the U.S. Supreme Court. She received her bachelor's, master's and juris doctorate degrees from Yale University.

On Thursday, Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced that the House of Representatives would begin drafting impeachment articles against Trump.

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32 people like this
Posted by Jim Neal
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Dec 5, 2019 at 12:42 pm

Jim Neal is a registered user.

I have to wonder at the title for this article. How could Karlan testify about something that she and the other 'witnesses' did not witness nor have personal knowledge of? I watched the so-called hearings yesterday and they were a joke. For something that is supposed to be a slam-dunk with 'irrefutable' evidence of misconduct by the President, why did the Democrats feel the need to stack the deck 3 to 1? Why did they choose the date for a time when they knew the President would be out of the country for a NATO Summit, then blame HIM for not being there to testify? It also did not help that Karlan, on more than one occasion, showed her contempt for the President and his family, and even took a cheap shot at his son Baron! She later offered a lame apology in which she again attacked the President.

With regard to Biden, he openly bragged on tape that he engaged in the very same "quid-pro-quo' that seems to be extremely upsetting to the Democrats, and those same Democrats now want to impeach the President for asking about the company that even President Obama wanted to investigate for corruption? Doesn't pass the smell test.

Despite how the newspapers and tv news try to blur and/or outright lie about what the President said. Everyone knows that he never asked Ukraine to investigate the Bidens, he asked for them to investigate Burisma and the Previous Ukraine administrations interference in the 2016 election as documented by the New York Times and Politico among others. It's actually amazing how many countries were involved in interfering with th e2016 election; England, Italy, Australia, Russia, and Ukraine, not one of which was supporting soon to be President Trump.

Getting back to Karlan's statements though, it's obvious that she merely parroted what she heard or wanted to believe was true rather than verifying the facts for herself. The 'favor' the President asked for was to get information to resolve the question about Ukrainian interference in the 2016 election. He said ' the country has been through a lot". Meaning that hwe was concerned about the continued rumors and lies that are continuing to tear the country apart. But as we have seen, there is nothing that the Ukrainians could say, do, or provide that would convince the Democrats or a media that is determined to destroy President Trump. The Ukrainian President has denied several times that he was subjected to or felt any pressure from President Trump and the transcript of the phone call proves it, but we still are subjected to the impeachment theatre of the absurd.

Let's face it, the press and the Democrats have been talking about impeaching the President since BEFORE he even won the Republican nomination! First they wanted the results thrown out in the states that 'flipped'. Then they wanted the Electoral college to change the rules and vote for Hillary instead. Then it was 2 years of the fake Russia collusion hoax. Now it's Ukraine. At no point have the media or the Democrats accepted that THEY LOST. They objective now is to muddy and dirty up Trump as much as possible in order to keep him from being re-elected since they know they have no prayer of getting him removed from office after they enact their pre-determined impeachment vote.

It's really a shame to see people who are law professors at some of the most esteemed colleges in the country, being used to try to prop up a constitutional argument that if upheld, would weaken future Presidencies so much as to make the President no more than a figurehead that serves at the pleasure of whichever party controls the house. That is something I don't think EITHER party really wants.

Jim Neal
Modesto, Ca
(Formerly Old Mountain View)

(Note: All of the above statements reflect my personal opinions)

25 people like this
Posted by Gary
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Dec 5, 2019 at 2:35 pm

Gary is a registered user.

Sure, if only Trump had not been in Europe, he would have testified on DAY ONE. But now that we are beyond day one, Trump and has chumps will say it is somehow too late. Perhaps something like: "you have already shown you will not be fair."

The expert witnesses could properly give not just legal advice about the law but also an opinion of the evidence currently in the written record. That record is wide open. All of the President's Men should testify - none will. We understand perfectly.

15 people like this
Posted by home of registered user
a resident of Monta Loma
on Dec 5, 2019 at 2:58 pm

home of registered user is a registered user.

"How could Karlan testify about something that she and the other 'witnesses' did not witness nor have personal knowledge of? "

That's why there are two defined categories of witnesses: fact witnesses and expert witnesses. As somewhat outlined by Gary, above.

"it's obvious that she merely parroted"

No, she studied previous testimony, something a number of people/posters have not yet done. She referenced that factual testimony with her expertise in constitutional law.

"Everyone knows that he never asked Ukraine to investigate the Bidens"

Au contrere. See the testimony mentioned above, as well as video and written records of the president's own words.

28 people like this
Posted by Steven Nelson
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Dec 5, 2019 at 3:38 pm

Steven Nelson is a registered user.

Let me make this Public Confession / as a lifelong registered Republican I belong to a now-stupid political party. So my reply to Leonard Pitts Jr. (Miami Herald) "Open Letter'" is to call not only for an impeachment of President Trump by the US House of Representatives, but his removal from office by the US Senate. I was not in the country when Nixon was undergoing impeachment / but at that time Republican Senator Howard Baker eventually expressed the thoughts of a responsible and thoughtful citizen of this Republic.
In January I will probably be going to DC, so I can walk around 1600 Pennsylvania Ave, whistle around my neck, and join in whistleblowing with whoever that darn "whistleblower" was. God bless the Republic and those whose loyalty is to democratic government under The Constitution and not to "The Donald".

25 people like this
Posted by Santa Rita Mom
a resident of The Crossings
on Dec 5, 2019 at 3:39 pm

Santa Rita Mom is a registered user.

Thanks, Jim Neal. Even though you have moved, I'm happy to hear your reasonable voice again.

This "investigation" is sham. Schiff made up his own version of the phone call and people didn't even bother to read the actual transcript, yet President Trump is wrong and Schiff is some sort of hero. Ridiculous.

Prof Kaplan is an embarrassment to her profession. She has backed Democrats and openly admits it, yet reporters (and those posting here) act as if she is unbiased. Again, ridiculous.

Real evidence and actual proof mean nothing in this process and yet Nancy Pelosi has the gall to say that she is going forward not because she is partisan, but because she values the Constitution. Preposterous.

Please get this to the Senate so that we can have an evaluation of the FACTS. I am sick of the parade of hurt feelings of those who can't tolerate the Constitution as written and prefer to silence those with whom they don't agree.

15 people like this
Posted by home of registered user
a resident of Monta Loma
on Dec 5, 2019 at 4:02 pm

home of registered user is a registered user.

"Prof Kaplan is an embarrassment to her profession/ those who can't tolerate the Constitution as written"

How did the law professor misrepresent the Constitution or any of the factual evidence provided thus far to Congress?


"people didn't even bother to read the actual transcript"

You and I have not seen the "actual transcript." The call report released is only a part of the conversation, it is clearly and obviously not a complete transcript. As the actual call report clearly states:

“The text in this document records the notes and recollections of Situation Room Duty Officers and NSC policy staff assigned to listen and memorialize the conversation in written form as the conversation takes place,... A number of factors can affect the accuracy of the record, including poor telecommunications connections and variations in accent and/or interpretation.”

Note the number of ellipses used in the call report, highlighting that a significant amount of the call is not reported.

For example: here's a critical line from the section about Biden, Trump says: “Biden went around bragging that he stopped the prosecution so if you can look into it ... It sounds horrible to me.”

Those ellipses are the White House’s entry. Perhaps they denote a pause; it’s quite possible they denote that Trump said something in between those two sentences that the White House would rather not reveal.

Your statement was: "people didn't even bother to read the actual transcript"

Did you the call report? What do *you* think was held back by only partially reporting on the call?


“I would like you to do us a favor though.”

41 people like this
Posted by home of registered user
a resident of Monta Loma
on Dec 5, 2019 at 4:05 pm

home of registered user is a registered user.

Please note that Trumps statement is a lie: “Biden went around bragging that he stopped the prosecution"

As previous testimony shows, this did not happen.

7 people like this
Posted by Gary
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Dec 6, 2019 at 9:33 am

Gary is a registered user.

Anyone who reads a police report or a transcript of testimony will get an impression of what happened. Prosecutors charge suspects every day based on what they have read. The House will indict - impeach - President Trump based on the materials and live testimony, if any, House members choose to consider. The Senate will then run a different process of its choosing. Hunter Biden, for example, will be given a Senate subpoena to attend and testify. He might refuse to answer on the ground that answers to particular questions might tend to incriminate him. That would finish off Joe Biden's bid for the Presidency. Stay tuned. Should be great. In the end, I am predicting that Trump will not be re-selected (by the electoral college) and will resign just before his term expires in January 2021 to receive a broad pardon from President Pence.

34 people like this
Posted by Senior Vet
a resident of Monta Loma
on Dec 7, 2019 at 9:45 am

Senior Vet is a registered user.

@Jim Neal

1. We still do not have the full un-redacted Mueller report -Obstruction of Justice
2. Trump is refusing to let his team testify -Obstruction of Justice
3. trump Made up lies about Ukraine-false narrative- Lying to the American People
4. Won't show taxes- emoluments clause
5.Congress is a co-equal branch of government and has constitutional duties and responsibilities to oversee the executive office
6. Tweeting about witnesses- Witness Intimidation
[Portion removed due to disrespectful comment or offensive language]

4 people like this
Posted by Jim Neal
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Dec 16, 2019 at 1:09 pm

Jim Neal is a registered user.

We do not have the full un-redacted Mueller report because we are not entitled to it. It's truly amazing to me that people seem to forget about executive privilege only when Republicans are President. However, in this case there is not only executive privilege involved, but Grand Jury testimony which CONGRESS has specifically barred from being made public, but now complains about not getting.

Obama also refused to let members of his Administration testify before Congress as was his right. You see, in our Constitution we have something called "Separation Of Powers" and 'Co-Equal" branches of Government". That means that no one branch is superior to any of the others. When Congress tells the President to jump, he doesn't have to ask 'How high?". He can refuse. Congress can then go to the Court to ask that the matter be resolved. The problem with the Democrats in Congress now is that they think the President is subservient to their will and has no choice but to do what they say. Maybe they should read the Constitution again.

What lies did the President make up about the Ukraine? A few examples would be nice to go with the accusation.

LOL, the emoluments clause has absolutely nothing to do with tax returns! There wasn't even an IRS when the Constitution was written! If Congress wants Tax Returns to be part of the requirements to be President, then they need to propose and pass a Constitutional Amendment, otherwise; any candidate or President can tell them to go pound sand. For Congress to ask the President for his tax returns is also an exercise in stupidity as he was incredibly wealthy BEFORE he became President. Let's face it, the only reason they want his tax returns is so they can do opposition research for the next election, and the President is in no way obligated to just roll over and let them.

Yes, Congress IS Co-equal as I said earlier. But if you already know that, then why do you think co-equal means that the President has to do everything the Democrats tell him to do and turn over privileged information?

LOL! Seriously? Tweets are now witness intimidation? Good grief! The 'witness' would not have known anything about it if Adam Schiff hadn't breathlessly read the tweet DURING her testimony. Now if Trump had messaged her directly on her phone, or sent someone into the chamber to menace her, I might agree, but this talking point is simply ridiculous. The President tweets all the time and so far, no one seems to be wetting themselves or shaking in their boots when he does so.

Keep trying though!

Jim Neal
Modesto, Ca
(Formerly Old Mountain View)

10 people like this
Posted by home of registered user
a resident of Monta Loma
on Dec 16, 2019 at 3:47 pm

home of registered user is a registered user.

Jim: Tweets are now witness intimidation? ... The President tweets all the time and so far, no one seems to be wetting themselves


The Washington Times told us in 2017: President Trump’s Twitter posts are official statements.

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