Senate Democrats and the House impeachment managers complained Tuesday about the procedures proposed by the Senate Republican majority for the trial of President Donald Trump — after running an absurdly unfair House process.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) proposed following the model used during the impeachment of President Bill Clinton in 1999, where opening arguments were followed by a separate procedural vote on witnesses.
Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) — who opposed witnesses in the Clinton trial — argues witnesses are needed for a “fair” trial, and has complained the schedule is rushed (after his party rushed impeachment through the House).
In addition, Democrats even tried to force out White House Counsel Pat Cipollone on Tuesday, with Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) complaining that he was a “fact witness” to the president’s supposedly impeachable legal strategy.
The Democrats’ complaints about procedure come after they themselves were accused of running an impeachment inquiry that not only broke with every existing precedent, but also violated the due process rights of the president:
- The House inquiry began without a formal vote by the full House authorizing an impeachment inquiry, as had been done in every prior impeachment of the president, as the White House trial memorandum pointed out Monday.
- The House inquiry began in a secretive process, in hearings closed off to the public and to most of the other members of the House, abusing the powers of the House Intelligence Committee to review evidence that was not classified.
- The resolution that the House finally approved — in a party-line vote — gave primary fact-finding responsibilities to the House Intelligence Committee, rather than the House Judiciary Committee, which usually handles impeachment.
- The House resolution also broke with precedent by allowing the majority party to object witnesses called by the minority but not vice versa. It also refused to allow the president legal representation throughout the investigation.
- The House resolution gave Schiff additional power to decide when and how transcripts would be called, and which witnesses who had already testified in private would be called to testify in public (and some important ones were not).
- Schiff not only refused to call the so-called “whistleblower” to testify, as he had once insisted he would do, but also blocked Republicans from asking any questions about the “whistleblower,” or even about the flow of information.
- Schiff lied to the public about his committee’s prior contact with the whistleblower, and claimed falsely that the whistleblower had a statutory right to anonymity, when in fact he enjoyed no such legal protection whatsoever.
- The House impeachment inquiry denied the president any legal representation, or the right to question witnesses, until the fact-finding had already been done, by which time there was no point to having a legal representative in the room.
- The House Intelligence Committee produced a report that was not only one-sided, but which also included the phone records of the Ranking Member, the president’s lawyer, and a journalist, without any legal authority for doing so.
- The House Judiciary Committee held a hearing on the legal and constitutional issues at which Democrats were allowed to call three expert witnesses, while Republicans were only allowed to call a single legal expert witness.
- The House Judiciary Committee broke House rules by denying the minority party the ability to call a hearing for its own witnesses. Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) never provided a satisfactory reason for breaking those rules.
- The House Judiciary Committee did not require Schiff to show up in person to defend his Intelligence Committee report, instead allowing him to send a Democrat staffer, who refused to answer questions about the phone snooping.
- The House Judiciary Committee allowed a staff counsel, Barry Berke — also a generous donor to the Democratic Party — to testify without taking an oath, and then allowed him to begin the questioning of Republican staff counsel.
- The House Democrats spoke endlessly about bribery, then failed to allege bribery in the articles of impeachment against the president — and failed, in fact, to allege that he had committed any violation of any statute whatsoever.
- The articles of impeachment made the false allegation that the president had previously been involved with foreign efforts to interfere with U.S. elections, after Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s inquiry proved exactly the opposite.
- Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) argued that impeachment was an urgent necessity — then withheld the articles of impeachment from the Senate for four weeks while attempting to influence the trial’s procedural rules.
The Senate trial opened on Tuesday afternoon, with Chief Justice John Roberts presiding, and with arguments on the Senate floor from Schiff and Cipollone about the trial procedures, and whether new witnesses would be called.