Today’s January 6th hearing was full of gobsmacking details Donald Trump’s push to get Mike Pence to illegally overturn the election. But Fox News’ legal analyst Jonathan Turley only wanted to talk about how the hearing – which only heard from Republicans – was not “balanced.”
The two witnesses in today’s hearing were Pence’s legal counsel, Greg Jacob, and conservative judicial icon Michael Luttig. Here’s how The Washington Post summed up Jacob’s revelations:
Leading the campaign was Trump lawyer John Eastman, who over the two days before Jan. 6 spoke repeatedly with top Pence aides about whether the vice president would either reject outright Biden’s winning electoral college count or suspend the day’s proceedings to allow seven contested states to reexamine their popular votes, witnesses said.
Pence never considered it, former vice-presidential counsel Greg Jacob testified — and even Eastman acknowledged that the gambit was not legal, Jacob said. In addition to that apparent admission, several former White House aides testified that they — and Pence — told Trump the same.
Michael Luttig, a retired federal appeals judge and renowned conservative who advised Pence during the crisis, testified that what Trump was asking Pence to do amounted to “constitutional mischief” and posed a grave threat to American democracy.
“I would have laid my body across the road before I would have let the vice president overturn the 2020 election,” Luttig testified.
“Donald Trump and his allies and supporters are a clear and present danger to American democracy,” Luttig said, in his closing remarks.
But Turley, who is also a law professor, had nothing to say about the law or the fact that a sitting president refused to follow it but, instead, pressured his vice president to break it in order to stay in power. Turley offered this sorry bit of what passes for legal analysis on Fox News:
TURLEY: I was very surprised that the chairman decided to end with reference to - with Judge Luttig - towards the 2024 election. It really did raise this issue again of not having a bipartisan committee.
Turley acknowledged that the evidence is “really powerful” but, of course, the only thing he thought worth discussing was, “They could have had another side, they could have had Republican members in the traditional way, a balanced committee. It wouldn’t necessarily have lessened this evidence. And I think that’s a good example, is today.”
Never mind that both witnesses were Republicans nor that there are two Republicans on the committee. Nor did Turley seems to have any thoughts on what “the other side” might have added to the proceedings. He didn’t even opine that there was "another side" as to whether Pence had the legal authority to have overturned the election.
Obviously, Turley couldn’t think of any legal criticism, or you can bet he would have come up with some. So, instead, the Fox “legal analyst” focused on the process:
TURLEY: This was heart-wrenching stuff. It was so hard to watch it again. Most of this we knew, but we didn’t know the specific, obviously, testimony, some of these new videos. But it would have been more powerful, in my view, if they really did have a more balanced committee, including that ending, I thought was really something that they probably could have done without.
Even worse, Turley “forgot” to mentioned that it was “Kevin McCarthy who refused to put other members of the Republican Party on the Select Committee after Jim Jordan was rejected,” as John Amato pointed out, at Crooks and Liars. So Turley left the viewers with the false impression that Democrats had deliberately stacked the committee.
Turley's remarks were followed by the “legal analysis” of former U.S. Attorney Andrew McCarthy. He downplayed Trump’s effort to overturn the election and nearly get his vice president killed in the process, by saying the coup would probably never have actually happened. I'm sure that's little comfort to Mike Pence.
Siding with a base (abased) Republican Party which generally undermines bipartisanship and rejected the formation of a non-partisan panel to investigate Jan 6, Turley ignores the defense Trump got at his second impeachment trial and the research role of the Jan 6 committee. If the committee were running a prosecutorial proceeding—which it is not—it would be more akin to a grand jury than a trial jury, so there would be no defense lawyer. Furthermore, when key Trump loyalists are given an opportunity to defend Trump under oath, they decline the offer or take the 5th.