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Shorter Jonathan Turley: Witch hunts are good if the witches are acquitted

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George Washington law professor and professional Trump shill Jonathan Turley went on national TV earlier this week and repeated a bunch of paranoid conspiratorial nonsense about “thousands” of votes in Michigan for Trump being given to Biden instead (this never happened).

I called him out for it, and noted that for a law professor and self-styled election law expert to praise the Trump campaign for litigating the legitimacy of the 2020 election was analogous to a history professor denying the reality of the Holocaust, or a communications professor denying that children were actually murdered at the Sandy Hook elementary school.

Turley took offense to this analogy, and while mendaciously backtracking on what he actually said on national TV regarding the tabulation of the vote in Michigan, he went into high dudgeon mode over the very idea that there’s anything bad about Donald Trump refusing to concede an election that he unambiguously lost:

The person most undermined [by criticism of this litigation] is Biden. Instead of asking for the review of these cases to affirm his legitimacy as the next president, his backers are harassing lawyers and running a retaliation campaign. It is an ironic twist since many of us marveled at how guilty Trump looked in his acts to bully his accusers and derail the Russia investigation. The best thing for Trump would have been to support a full investigation. There is also no evidence of systemic election fraud. The best thing for Biden would be to support a full investigation. The threats and biased media coverage only worsen the suspicions of the 72 million Americans who voted for Trump.

There is an alternative. We can concur that every ballot must be counted and every case be heard. 

Leave aside Turley’s bizarre claim that the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election is somehow analogous to these lawsuits — a claim that might actually set some sort of new world record for specious bothsiderism.

Instead, let’s focus on the fact that Turley actually admits that these lawsuits are frivolous! If there’s “no evidence of systemic election fraud,” then there’s no evidence that would actually support bringing these lawsuits, which by definition means these lawsuits have no reasonable basis in law and fact, which in turn is the definition of frivolous litigation.

The notion that Trump still has the “right” to file and pursue these lawsuits because he’s found people with law licenses willing to file them is as specious as the notion that people with driver’s licenses have a right to drive drunk. It’s an abuse of the privileges of attorney licensure to file frivolous lawsuits, which is why there are legal rules that sanction both lawyers and their clients for bringing them.

Criticizing lawyers for doing so is no different than criticizing them for participating in any other abuse of the legal system, and such criticisms represent a defense of the rule of law, not an attack on it.

Turley’s demand that “every case be heard” is the kind of airy generalization that sounds good until you spend ten seconds thinking about. If one were to do that, the following analogy might leap to mind:

Suppose a bunch of people at the George Washington Law School who really hate Jonathan Turley decide that they’re going to accuse him of sexual harassment, embezzlement, and academic fraud. Just as Donald Trump has no evidence to support his constant public accusations that the election was rigged in Joe Biden’s favor, these people have no evidence that Turley has sexually harassed anybody, or embezzled school funds, or committed academic fraud.

But what’s the harm in having a full and fair investigation of these charges? Shouldn’t Turley welcome this opportunity to vindicate himself from false accusations, just as Turley claims Joe Biden should welcome the opportunity to vindicate himself from the false charge, made constantly by the current president of the United States, that Biden stole the election? (The demand that Biden “prove” he won the election is very much like the demand, which Donald Trump used to launch his presidential ambitions, that Barack Obama “prove” he was born in the United States).

Let a hundred depositions bloom!

To make the analogy more exact, we would have to suspend Prof. Turley from his academic duties while our investigations grind forward. Joe Biden is the president-elect of the United States, but he’s currently suspended from participating in the transitional activities, many of them critical to national security, that a president-elect is by law entitled to undertake, because Donald Trump and his lawyers are clogging up our courts with a bunch of phony claims that Biden stole the election. And Jonathan Turley is defending that abuse of the system! He thinks it’s just great that Donald Trump is doing what he’s done his whole life, which is to abuse the legal system to avoid his legal debts and obligations.

Turley is a particularly despicable kind of academic snake: the kind that poses as some sort of disinterested party, soaring above it all, when in fact by supporting this outrageous and unprecedented refusal on a sitting president’s part to acknowledge that he’s lost an election that there’s absolutely no doubt that he lost, he’s just another of Donald Trump’s hatchet men, doing (I assume) for free what Trump’s various sleazy lawyers are doing for some money, or more realistically, the hope of some.

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