OU, Tulsa professors promote impeachment

Higher Education

Ray Carter | December 9, 2019

OU, Tulsa professors promote impeachment

Ray Carter

Seven Oklahoma law professors have signed a letter supporting the impeachment of President Donald Trump even though they “take no position on whether the President committed a crime.”

In the letter, signed by officials from a range of colleges across the nation, the law school instructors say Trump should be impeached because the president “betrayed his oath of office by seeking to use presidential power to pressure a foreign government to help him distort an American election, for his personal and political benefit, at the direct expense of national security interests as determined by Congress.” The letter declares the alleged behavior is “precisely the type of threat to our democracy that the Founders feared when they included the remedy of impeachment in the Constitution.”

The signatories include Donald Bogan, Rick Tepker, and Joseph Thai, who are all affiliated with the law school at the University of Oklahoma. Signers affiliated with the school of law at the University of Tulsa include Margaret W. Bowman, Barbara Bucholtz, Miriam Marton, and Tamera Piety.

The law professors’ letter says “conduct need not be criminal to be impeachable” and argues Trump should be impeached because he directed the temporary withholding of military aid to Ukraine and is accused of making a White House visit by the Ukrainian president conditional on public announcement of a corruption investigation that would tangentially involve former Vice President Joe Biden’s son, who served in a high-paid board position with a Ukrainian company accused of corruption.

The law professors’ complaints largely mirror those made by congressional Democrats leading the impeachment charge.

However, a minority report released by U.S. House Republicans following the completion of the impeachment hearings conducted by the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence noted that the withholding of aid to Ukraine was temporary and Ukrainian officials say they were not aware of the holdup. The report also notes Ukrainian officials had several meetings with the Trump administration during that time that caused Ukraine to feel “good about its relationship with the United States in the early months of the Zelensky Administration.”

The House Republican report said “none of the Democrats’ witnesses testified to having evidence of bribery, extortion, or any high crime or misdemeanor.”

The House Republican report also noted that the Trump administration has been more supportive of the Ukrainian government than the preceding administration, not less.

“The Democrats’ impeachment narrative also ignores President Trump’s steadfast support for Ukraine in its war against Russian occupation,” the House Republican report stated. “Several of the Democrats’ witnesses described how President Trump’s policies toward Ukraine to combat Russian aggression have been substantially stronger than those of President Obama—then under the stewardship of Vice President Biden. Where President Obama and Vice President Biden gave the Ukrainians night-vision goggles and blankets, the Trump Administration provided the Ukrainians with lethal defensive assistance, including Javelin anti-tank missiles.”

This is not the first time Oklahoma law professors have injected themselves into national political debates.

Tepker and Thai previously signed a letter urging members of the Senate to oppose the confirmation of now-U.S. Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh. Other accounts report Bowman was also a signatory to that letter.

The letter signed by Tepker, Thai, and Bowman declared that Kavanaugh “displayed a lack of judicial temperament that would be disqualifying for any court” during a September 27, 2018 hearing in which Kavanaugh denied sexually assaulting a woman.

During Kavanaugh’s confirmation process, Christine Blasey Ford told lawmakers Kavanaugh had sexually assaulted her sometime in the 1980s when both she and Kavanaugh were in high school. No corroborating evidence was provided to back Ford’s story, and Ford’s testimony was criticized because it included few verifiable details and shifted in significant ways over time. Four people allegedly at the event, including a longtime friend of Ford, said they recalled no such event.

At a September 27, 2018 hearing, Kavanaugh declared he was “innocent of this charge” and called the allegations part of a campaign of “last-minute smears, pure and simple.”

“Such grotesque and obvious character assassination—if allowed to succeed—will dissuade competent and good people of all political persuasions from serving our country,” Kavanaugh said.

While the University of Tulsa is a private school, the University of Oklahoma is not and the salaries of professors at that university are supported, directly or indirectly, by taxpayer funding. The OU law school received a state appropriation of $4.6 million this year.

Ray Carter Director, Center for Independent Journalism

Ray Carter

Director, Center for Independent Journalism

Ray Carter is the director of OCPA’s Center for Independent Journalism. He has two decades of experience in journalism and communications. He previously served as senior Capitol reporter for The Journal Record, media director for the Oklahoma House of Representatives, and chief editorial writer at The Oklahoman. As a reporter for The Journal Record, Carter received 12 Carl Rogan Awards in four years—including awards for investigative reporting, general news reporting, feature writing, spot news reporting, business reporting, and sports reporting. While at The Oklahoman, he was the recipient of several awards, including first place in the editorial writing category of the Associated Press/Oklahoma News Executives Carl Rogan Memorial News Excellence Competition for an editorial on the history of racism in the Oklahoma legislature.

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