Pamela Karlan, a Stanford Law School professor and self-described “snarky bisexual”, stole the show at Donald Trump’s impeachment hearing with her scathing and quick-witted put-downs.
Karlan specialises in constitutional law, once served as US deputy assistant attorney general for voting rights, and lives with her partner, writer Viola Canales.ADVERTISING
At Wednesday’s (December 4) hearing, she was part of a panel of legal experts debating whether the president should be impeached, and in her opening statement referred to Trump putting pressure on Ukraine for political favours.
She told the House Judiciary Committee: “Based on the evidentiary record before you, what has happened in the case today is something that I do not think we have ever seen before: a president who has doubled down on violating his oath to ‘faithfully execute’ the laws and to ‘protect and defend the Constitution’.
“The evidence reveals a president who used the powers of his office to demand that a foreign government participate in undermining a competing candidate for the presidency.”
But when Doug Collins, a Republican on the Judiciary Committee, implied that Karlan was not qualified to comment at the president’s impeachment hearing, she clapped back: “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.”
Vanity Fair described her response as a “verbal bitch-slap”. She added that she had spent so much time over Thanksgiving reading the transcripts that she had to eat “a turkey that came to us in the mail that was already cooked”.
Later, she was questioned by representative Matt Gaetz over her political contributions. He listed that she had given $1,000 to Elizabeth Warren, $1,200 to Barack Obama and $2,000 to Hillary Clinton.
By the time Gaetz asked her why she had given more to Clinton than the other two, Karlan had had enough.
She said: “I’ve been giving a lot of money to charity because of all the poor people in the United States.”
Her snappy comebacks have even alerted Melania Trump. When making a point about the differences between a president and a king, she said: “So while the president can name his son Barron, he can’t make him a baron.”
This prompted an irritated response from the first lady on Twitter, which read: “A minor child deserves privacy and should be kept out of politics. Pamela Karlan, you should be ashamed of your very angry and obviously biased public pandering, and using a child to do it.”
While Karlan did apologise for mentioning the 13-year-old Barron during the impeachment hearing, she still managed to slide in a dig at Trump.
She said: “If I can just say one thing. I want to apologise for what I said earlier about the president’s son, it was wrong of me to do that.
“I wish the president would apologise obviously for the things that he’s done that’s wrong, but I do regret having said that.”
Karlan has argued nine cases in the Supreme Court to date. Most recently, on October 8, she defended the legal right of LGBT+ people to protections under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.