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On the BBC, there was an article citing 4 law experts called by the US House to discuss whether Trump's Ukraine activities fall within the scope of "high crimes and misdemeanors" as described in Article II, Section 4 the Constitution.

Predictably, the 3 experts called by the Democrats agreed that they did, while Jonathan Turley, for the Republicans, disagreed, though he was rather critical of Trump otherwise.

One of his reasons was:

To do so, the House Intelligence Committee declared that it would not subpoena a host of witnesses who have direct knowledge of any quid pro quo. Instead, it will proceed on a record composed of a relatively small number of witnesses with largely second-hand knowledge of the position. The only three direct conversations with President Trump do not contain a statement of a quid pro quo and two expressly deny such a pre-condition.

Who are these missing witnesses? Are they the same members of the administration that Trump forbade to testify to the House? Other people? Who could have cleared the record and spoken on Trump's behalf but was not asked to do so? Why did the Republican House representatives not request their deposition?

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The New York Times also hosts Professor Turley's Written Statement, it's extensive (53 pages long) and I'll refer to that to answer your question.


Who are these missing witnesses? Are they the same members of the administration that Trump forbade to testify to the House?

It appears so and the reason (at least as Professor Turley argues in his written testimony) to allow (for a lack of a better word) the administration to prevent witnesses from testifying is privilege.

In his written testimony, the following paragraph on having testimony from key witnesses seems relevant:

In the current case, the record is facially insufficient. The problem is not simply that the record does not contain direct evidence of the President stating a quid pro quo, as Chairman Schiff has suggested. The problem is that the House has not bothered to subpoena the key witnesses who would have such direct knowledge. This alone sets a dangerous precedent. A House in the future could avoid countervailing evidence by simply relying on tailored records with testimony from people who offer damning presumptions or speculation. It is not enough to simply shrug and say this is “close enough for jazz” in an impeachment. The expectation, as shown by dozens of failed English impeachments, was that the lower house must offer a complete and compelling record. That is not to say that the final record must have a confession or incriminating statement from the accused. Rather, it was meant to be a complete record of the key witnesses that establishes the full range of material evidence. Only then could the body reach a conclusion on the true weight of the evidence—a conclusion that carries sufficient legitimacy with the public to justify the remedy of removal.

Later on his written testimony, he talks about getting these witnesses to testify if the executive branch claims privilege (emphasis mine):

There is a third branch that is designated to resolve conflicts between the two political branches.In recognition of this responsibility, the Judiciary ruled on the Nixon disputes.In so doing, the Supreme Court found executive privilege claims are legitimate grounds to raise in disputes with Congress but ruled such claims can be set aside in the balancing of interests with Congress.What a president cannot do is ignore a final judicial order on such witnesses or evidence.

Finally, some names are mentioned in his written testimony (emphasis mine):

Instead, it will proceed on a record composed of a relatively small number of witnesses with largely second-hand knowledge of the position.The only three direct conversations with President Trump do not contain a statement of a quid pro quo and two expressly deny such a pre-condition.The House has offered compelling arguments why those two calls can be discounted by the fact that President Trump had knowledge of the underlying whistleblower complaint.However, this does not change the fact that it is moving forward based on conjecture, assuming what the evidence would show if there existed the time or inclination to establish it.The military aid was released after a delay that the witnesses described as “not uncommon”for this or prior Administrations.This is not a case of the unknowable.It is a case of the peripheral.The House testimony is replete with references to witnesses like John Bolton, Rudy Giuliani, and Mike Mulvaney who clearly hold material information.To impeach a president on such a record would be to expose every future president to the same type of inchoate impeachment.

  • That's what I thought but this this seems a bit like circular reasoning, in the sense that those witnesses are not testifying precisely on order of the President. Which in itself has been considered as grounds for an extra charge of obstruction wrt to the impeachment proceedings. If those witnesses are important to having a fair hearing, which this claims to be the case, then why is Trump going out of his way to avoid them testifying and how much weight to accord to legal objections based on not hearing them, when it is Trump's choice not to have them testify? – Italian Philosophers 4 Monica Dec 5 '19 at 6:51
  • +1 and am inclined to grant this to you, unless someone does point at a different list of people. or indicates that the Dems House decided not to hear them, in order to avoid presenting testimonies more favorable to Trump. – Italian Philosophers 4 Monica Dec 5 '19 at 6:57
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    @ItalianPhilosophers4Monica when you have no defense on substance the only thing to resort to is a defense on procedure. This is that defense (claiming witnesses aren't heard, claiming it's unfair, etc.), a poor one at that, I think. Indeed, if there is an innocent explanation for what is alleged then they could easily provide it (even before impeachment efforts by the House started). – JJ for Transparency and Monica Dec 5 '19 at 7:04
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    @ItalianPhilosophers4Monica "why is Trump going out of his way to avoid them testifying" Just a guess - but maybe Trump wants to have the real fight in the Senate, where Republicans control the witness list and the questioning. Putting the "whistleblower" under oath in public and asking him questions about his political affiliation (this is already all public information, BTW, but this site wants to play its part in killing actual democracy with darkness by hiding inconvenient facts...[watch this comment get deleted]) That fight would also be happening during Democrat primary season. – Just Me Dec 5 '19 at 11:08
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    @JustMe Given that the claims of the whistleblower have been publicly acknowledged as true by the Trump administration, I'm not sure if I understand the benefit of asking the whistleblower any questions? – Onyz Dec 5 '19 at 14:29

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