Jonathan Turley: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

Jonathan Turley

Getty Jonathan Turley pictured in June 2019.

Jonathan Turley is the Republican legal expert who appeared before the House Judiciary Committee on December 4 as part of the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump. Turley is the J.B. and Maurice C. Shapiro Professor of Public Interest Law at the George Washington University Law School.

In his opening remarks before the Democratic-led committee, Turley said that the House Intelligence Committee had rushed their investigations and anger. Turley said, “I get it. You are mad. The president is mad. My Republican friends are mad. My wife is mad. My kids are mad. Even my dog is mad … and Luna is a golden doodle, and they are never mad. We are all mad, and where has it taken us? Will a slipshod impeachment make us less mad, or will it only give an invitation for the madness to follow in every future administration?”

Turley did not defend Trump’s phone call with Ukrainian President Zelensky. Turley said, “The use of military aid for a quid pro quo to investigate one’s political opponent if proven, can be an impeachable offense.”

Here’s what you need to know:


1. Turley Rose to Prominence During Bill Clinton’s Impeachment Trial in 1998

USA: CLINTON/LEWINSKY INVESTIGATION: CLINTON TESTIMONY (2)English/Nat In a little less than 24 hours from now, U-S President Bill Clinton will experience what could be a pivotal point in his presidency – testifying before a Washington grand jury. Two of his advisers have told the Associated Press that Clinton is ready to admit having an "inappropriate relationship" with Monica Lewinsky. One day before U-S President Bill Clinton is due to testify, he headed for church with First Lady, Hillary Rodham Clinton. As usual on Sunday mornings, a crowd of well-wishers greeted the President as he left the White House for church. Two of Clinton's closest aides, speaking anonymously, say Clinton is now signalling that he did have a sexual relationship with former White House intern, Monica Lewinsky. And they say his lawyers expect the president will be forced to testify that he had sex with Lewinsky. The President did not answer shouted questions to him by reporters when he left the church. Arriving back at the White House, the President spent a moment with the First Dog, Buddy, before heading inside to prepare for Monday's testimony to the grand jury. Some of the Clinton's inner circle continue to help him with the last minute details of his appearance. Former Commerce Secretary, Mickey Kantor, followed up a Saturday session at the White House by arriving on Sunday before the President left for Church. Democratic party stalwarts hit the Sunday news shows, defending the President, the party and the presidency. National Democratic Party Chairman, Roy Romer, told reporters that the American public was fed up with the apparently narrow report Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr was preparing. SOUNDBITE: (English) "This report sounds like something I'd pick up at a supermarket counter and pay two dollars for it with the National Enquirer's name on it. This is about sex, and this country knows it, and they are saying we ought to get this behind us. We ought not have this presidency bought down on the issue of his private life." SUPER CAPTION: Governor Roy Romer, Democratic National Party Chairman Massachusetts Democrat Barney Frank echoed this loyalty, saying impeachment was not an option. SOUNDBITE: (English) "Out of all the accusations that you have, at worst is that the President had a private sexual encounter or a series of encounters that were irresponsible and lied about them when he was confronted in a kind of a surprise element, and he shouldn't of done that. But I don't believe that any significant number of people think that is something you impeach for." SUPER CAPTION: Barney Frank, Democrat Representative, Massachusetts But Professor Jonathan Turley says that even if the President follows through with the "mea culpa" many members of the media are reporting, the matter will still need to be sent to Congress. SOUNDBITE: (English) "The Independent Counsel act places a mandatory responsibility on Kenneth Starr to report this to Congress. If the President admits to an act of perjury, that will probably protect the President from any danger of removal. It will not protect the President from having it reported to Congress. Ken Starr cannot on his own simply say that I am going to ignore a confirmed act of perjury. It has to go to the House, so this is not going to end on August 17th if the President admits to an earlier false statement." SUPER CAPTION: Jonathan Turley, George Washington University Law School Former White House Counsel Lanny Davis is urging the Clinton administration to make details of Monday's testimony public. SOUNDBITE: (English) SUPER CAPTION: Lanny Davis, Former White House Counsel You can license this story through AP Archive: http://www.aparchive.com/metadata/youtube/28e8827ffd29d74f66a2b96ef41b1ea0 Find out more about AP Archive: http://www.aparchive.com/HowWeWork2015-07-21T17:45:23.000Z

Turley first became a prominent media figure during President Bill Clinton’s impeachment hearings in 1998. Turley offered legal analysis on television. Turley also testified in favor of impeachment in the Clinton case. In June 1998, the Washington Post published an article with a subheading, “Who in the world is Jonathan Turley and what is he doing on your television?”

The Washington Post referred to Turley as a “liberal Democrat who voted for Clinton in 1992 and Ralph Nader in 1996.” Similar to his December 2019 testimony, Turley testified before the Republican-led Judiciary Committee in November 1998 to argue in favor of impeachment. Turley said at the time, “I don’t know where the idea came from that I am some kind of a right-wing extremist. I have always been a liberal Democrat and I voted for Bill Clinton.”


2. Turley, Who Is Argued in the Past in Favor of Polygamy, Is Married With 4 Children

Jonathan Turley on same-sex marriage decisionThis video is about Jonathan Turley on same-sex marriage decision2015-06-28T13:37:56.000Z

Turley married his wife, Leslie, on New Year’s Eve in 1997. The couple has four children together. In December 2009, Turley wrote in a blog post that he and his wife eloped in 1997 after eight years of dating. Turley added that the couple usually celebrated with a bottle of Schramsberg Sparkling wine.

Turley and his wife live in Washington D.C. In November 2007, the Washingtonian reported that Turley and his wife had purchased a $1.7 million home in McLean’s Chesterbrook Gardens neighborhood.

Turley has advocated in the past in favor of polygamy. In April 2016, he argued a case in favor of the stars of TLC’s “Sister Wives program. The star of the show, Kody Brown, had been accused of violating Utah’s bigamy laws as he was married to four different women.

Turley wrote on his blog at the time that the state of Utah had been founded by “courageous people” who were seeking protection from “government abuse and religious inequality.”


3. Turley Is a Native of Chicago & Graduate of Northwestern University’s Law School

Jonathan Turley 2006

Turley testifying before the House Judiciary Committee during the oversight hearing titled “Reckless Justice: Did the Saturday Night Raid of Congress Trample the Constitution?” on Capitol Hill May 30, 2006 in Washington, DC.

Turley, a native of Chicago, is a graduate of the University of Chicago and attained his law degree at Northwestern University’s school of law in 1987. According to his George Washington University biography, Turley became the youngest chaired professor in the school’s history in 1998. Turley is the founder and executive director of the Project for Older Prisoners.

Turley’s legal achievements are listed on the George Washington University wesbite as his representation of the Area 51 workers at a secret airbase in Nevada; the nuclear couriers at Oak Ridge, Tennessee; the Rocky Flats grand jury in Colorado; Dr. Eric Foretich, the husband in the Elizabeth Morgan custody controversy.

Turley’s family is a mix of Irish and Italian. Turley wrote in USA Today in July 2017 that his name comes from his Irish side.


4. Turley Has Argued in Favor of War Crimes Charges Being Brought Against Members of the Bush Administration

"The Constitution is just a piece of paper" – G.W. BushCountdown with Keith Olbermann. Olbermann interviews Jonathan Turley a constitutional law expert who rips Bush a new asshole, pointing out how many of his cronies are former criminals who have no respect for the law or the Constitution of the United States.2006-05-12T04:04:18.000Z

In the past, Turley has called for war crimes charges to be brought against members of George W. Bush’s administration. Turley told actor John Cusack in a September 2012 interview that considering then-Attorney General Eric Holder admitted that waterboarding was torture, the Department of Justice should prosecute those who waterboarded prisoners of war.

Turley added, “Under international law, shielding people from war-crime prosecutions is itself a form of war crime.”


5. Libertarian Presidential Candidate Gary Johnson Said in 2016 That Turley Would Have Been One of His Top Picks to the Supreme Couty Had He Won the Presidential Election

Jonathan Turley wife

During the 2016 presidential election cycle, Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson said that Turley would have been one of his picks for the Supreme Court.

Turley wrote on his blog of Johnson’s decision, “I am honored by Governor Johnson’s consideration. If nothing else, it got my students to stand up as I entered the class. I had assumed that the class was recognizing the achievement of my Chicago Cubs in clinching of a spot in the National League Championship, but this is even better.”

Turley wrote that although he had never met Johnson he was “deeply” appreciative of the former governor’s choice. Turley added, “I obviously share many values with [Johnson] on the constitutional system.”

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