Pamela Karlan Is the Only One Keeping Us Awake squib

Another day of impeachment hearings, another woman as the star witness. by Katie Herzog
Pamela Karlan takes no shit from Congress. CHIP SOMODEVILLA / GETTY IMAGES

Impeachment hearings continued Wednesday with four legal scholars testifying before the House Judiciary Committee.

These legal scholars include three hand-selected by Democrats and one chosen by Republicans, and the testimony has been as partisan as you'd expect. The three Democratic witnesses have argued that Trump asking Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate Joe Biden amounts to high crimes and misdemeanors, and is, therefore, an impeachable offense. The Republicans' witness, Johnathan Turley from George Washington University, argues the opposite, saying impeaching Trump would set "a dangerous precedent for future presidents" (including Democratic ones if they should ever take office again).

Today's hearings have not revealed anything we didn't already know, and it's also been, frankly, kind of dull. There has, however, been one breakout star: Stanford Law professor Pamela Karlan.

After Rep. Doug Collins—the shrillest man in Congress—accused the expert witnesses of not actually reading the House Intelligence Committee's latest report, Karlan responded: “Here, Mr. Collins, 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. So I’m insulted by the suggestion that as a law professor I don’t care about those facts.”

It's better on tape, so just watch it:

"You know, I spent all of Thanksgiving vacation sitting there reading these transcripts," Karlan said. "I ate a turkey that came to us in the mail that was already cooked because I was spending my time doing this. And the most chilling line to me of the entire process was the following: Ambassador Sondland said, 'He had to announce the investigations'—he’s talking about President Zelenskiy—'he had to announce the investigations, he didn’t have to do them as I understood it.' And then he said, 'I never heard... anyone say that the investigations had to start or had to be completed. The only thing I heard from Mr. Guiliani or otherwise was, they had to be announced in some form.' What I took that to mean was that this was not about whether Vice President Biden committed corruption nor not. This was about injuring someone the President thought of as a particularly hard opponent."

In other words, Trump didn't actually care if Joe Biden or his son were investigated for corruption. He just wanted the appearance of investigating them for corruption, which would, obviously, hurt Biden's reputation and his chance of winning the election.

Will this or any other testimony make a difference? I doubt it. Mitch McConnell still runs the Senate, Trump's base still has his back unwaveringly, and we're still living in two different bubbles—one reflected by MSNBC, the other by Fox News, both pushing their own versions of reality into the world. But, hey, at least there's this: All of the most forceful witnesses against President Trump in these impeachment hearings have been women.

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