Photo credit: Janet Donovan

“I want to tell you why I’m so glad you’re here. I think everybody here wants to hear a very effective argument for why we need principals, honesty and leadership back in the White House,” said host Juleanna Glover at her Kalorama home in Washington, DC where she co-hosted a book party with George Conway, Eric Holder, General Mike Hayden, Rob Reiner and Nicolle Wallace for author Neal Katyal & Steve Koppelman’s Impeach: The Case Against Donald Trump.

Why President Trump has left us with no choice but to remove him from office is explained by celebrated Supreme Court lawyer and former Acting Solicitor General Neal Katyal in Impeach. As an impeachment vote is pending in the House of Congress and probably headed toward the Senate, it could not be more timely.

“No one is above the law. This belief is as American as freedom of speech and turkey on Thanksgiving—held sacred by Democrats and Republicans alike. But as celebrated Supreme Court lawyer and former Acting Solicitor General Neal Katyal argues in Impeach, if President Trump is not held accountable for repeatedly asking foreign powers to interfere in the 2020 presidential election, this could very well mark the end of our democracy. To quote President George Washington’s Farewell Address: ‘Foreign influence is one of the most baneful foes of republican government.’ Impeachment should always be our last resort, but our founders, our principles, and our Constitution leave us with no choice but to impeach President Trump—before it’s too late.” HMH Books

“Neal Katyal is the Paul and Patricia Saunders Professor of Law at Georgetown University and a partner at a law firm where he leads one of the largest US Supreme Court practices in the nation. He previously served as Acting Solicitor General of the United States (the government’s top courtroom lawyer). He has argued more Supreme Court cases in US history than has any minority attorney (39 in total), recently breaking the record held by Thurgood Marshall. American Lawyer magazine recently named him the very top litigator of the year nationwide and the Justice Department awarded him the Edmund Randolph Award, the highest award the department can give a civilian. A frequent contributor to MSNBC and the New York Times, he has been named one of GQ’s Men of the Year and has appeared on virtually every major American news program, as well as House of Cards, where he played himself.” HMH Books

Neal Katyal

Hollywood on the Potomac sat down with Katyal prior to the formal discussion.  “So the book idea actually came up in a conversation on October 4th of this year. We decided that I could write the thing in two weeks and so I went to all the publishing houses and said: ‘I don’t care about money but who can put this thing on the shelves the fastest I’m going with.’  I promised to have a draft to them October 25th, a final draft, which we got done and they edited it for a few days and then sent it to be printed and that’s what’s on trucks right now being driven across the country to bookstores to arrive on Tuesday. We knew that impeachment was going to hit at the end of November, beginning of December, so it was very important for me to have the book out. The whole idea is not to write some historical retrospective about the theory and practice of impeachment, but it’s to influence the current debate.”

“I’m a law professor and a Supreme court lawyer in my day job,” Katyal added.  “So I got to work with an incredible collaborator named Sam Koppelman, a young guy, great speech writer. I was asked to give the hardest speech of my life earlier this year at my Alma Mate Yale law school for  the commencement address. And so I wrote about 50 drafts of the speech, showed it to my friend Brian Koppelman, who is the writer for the show Billions. And he said, ‘You know, what you should really do is show it to my son Sam.’  So I did and Sam really helped me with it. And so when I thought about doing the book on October 4th, I had one phone call to make, which was to Sam to say, ‘Hey, will you do this book with me?’ And then the last thing that should know – just about the book itself – is that the whole idea is to say: ‘You know, everything right now has become so partisan and there’s a simple way to think about impeachment which is the way you teach law students on day one, which is pretend the parties are reversed because everyone’s got their biases about which party should win.’  So pretend the reverse. Just ask yourself if Obama did all of this would you support impeachment? And I think any right minded person, Democrat, Republican, or Independent would say, ‘Yeah, I’m going to impeach the president tonight.’ “

Sam Koppelman

“I think that when people look at what he did and really think about it there will only be one conclusion:  This guy’s got to be removed from office,” he concluded. “We won’t know until they try though. The Democrats have been prisoners of their own soft politics. They’re so afraid that they’ve never forced the Republican structural votes. So let’s force them to a vote to see if they essentially stand for nothing.”

“I know that all of Neal’s friends are here because they’re so happy and proud and excited for him on the publication of his book,” said co-host George Conway. “And I’m happy and proud and excited, but I’m also a very relieved and I’ll tell you why I’m relieved. We became friends relatively recently in 2017. One of the few good things about this administration was that, for me at least, Neal and I have become friends. We come from different parts of the political spectrum. He is center left and I am center right. We first met in the East room for the trotting out of Justice Gorsuch and I didn’t know what to make of him. He was very nice to me and I didn’t know what to make of that.  And then later, as I grew more disenchanted with how things were going, we began to commiserate and we began to exchange messages and have lunch and got to know each other. And we began to realize then that we shared a lot in common, particularly views on the rule of law and our views of the current occupant of the White House.”

George Conway

“There’s sentiment in my household that he’s been a bad influence on me,” Conway added, “but in fact, he never ceases to remind me that he’s a restraining influence on me. He’s always telling me that you can’t say that, don’t say that, don’t, don’t tweet that. Usually I don’t listen, but we’ve become really, really good friends and we are in constant communication which brings me back to why I’m so relieved that we’re here today. We are constantly exchanging text messages and emails and direct messages on Twitter and then one day it stopped. A few weeks ago, it just stopped or trickled basically to not being and I became very worried. I started to wonder if I said something that offended him. In fact, I had just a few days before I’d been to a dinner party at Neal and Joanna’s and I had wondered if I did do something or did he just got sick of me ranting and raving about some malignant narcissist.”

George Conway

“But lo and behold, one day he revealed to me:  ‘I’ve been working on a secret project.’ And I said, ‘What’s that?’ And it turned out to be this book and that’s the relief.  And what a book it is. It’s an amazing book particularly since it was a product of such a short period of time. This book was written for the general public and you see in it the ability to invade that complexity and that depth to a general audience. Even for two people, this was just an amazing, amazing piece of work. I think it reflects Neal’s incredible dedication to public service and to the public good. And this book coming as it does and when it does, no matter what the outcome current proceedings are, is just so important that this be laid out in a clear fashion in the way that Neal made it out.”

Neal Katyal

“This book came together because of an emergency and it was written on an emergency schedule. This party was put together on an emergency schedule and we have an emergency number of people at the party,” joked Neal. “So it came together literally 50 days ago. George and I had just written an op-ed at the end of maybe around September 20th or so.  When the Ukraine scandal started to trickle out, nobody knew what it meant, but we thought we did. We wrote a piece for The Washington Post that basically said that we thought this was serious and that there was going to be an impeachment proceeding. A bunch of people said I knew nothing about politics and this will never happen  But we thought it would. I went home and woke up at two in the morning and got up and started writing the proposal.”

George, Juleanna, Neal, Sam

“I want to rewind to a different time at the beginning of this project,” said Sam Koppelman, “way back to October 2019 and I got that call when Neal asked me a simple question, which should have had a simple answer when he said: ‘Do you think you could help me write a book in three weeks?’ I said: ‘Of course,’ like I’ve done it a million times. My internal monologue was like: ‘Holy shit, how are we going to write a book in three weeks?’ But somehow it happened and that’s because I couldn’t have possibly had a better partner in doing this. I had a privilege that law students the world over can only dream about, which is an hour and a half on the phone with Neal in the morning, half an hour before bed. He left me with memories and lessons that will last a lifetime; lessons about justice, about history, about the law. But, but most importantly, he taught me what it means to try to be a moral person.  You know, Neal could have written a partisan version of his book, one that only appealed to Democrats to never Trumpers. God knows MSNBC viewers would have bought it anyway. They have like a weird thing for Neal. He’s like Harrison Ford. But instead, he decided to write a book with a clear North star, which is that no matter who you are, if you read this book, you can come back to your Thanksgiving table with your family and have a civil conversation about it. Well, maybe except for your family George. You can read this book and you’ll come to the conclusion that it wasn’t written by a partisan, by a Democrat, by someone with bias. It wasn’t written based on a hatred of Donald Trump, but based on a love of his country and it’s why I was so honored to write this with him.”