Republican Party

01/21/2020 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 01/22/2020 08:59

Senior Democrats Have Done 180 On Impeachment Rules Since Clinton

The Facts


  • In January of this year, Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) said he was concerned that Republican Senators would be involved in a cover-up if they did not call for witnesses for the impeachment trial.
    • Durbin also said that if witnesses were cut out of the trial, it would be 'obvious' to the American people what Republican Senators are trying to do.
    • Durbin criticized President Trump's defense team, saying that all they want to do is rush the trial which won't serve 'a cause of impartial judges.'
  • Back in 1999, Durbin said if there was a long trial with witnesses, it would be considered a 'national embarrassment.'
    • Durbin urged the Senate to avoid bringing key witnesses like Monica Lewinsky to the floor.
  • In January of this year, Senator Diane Feinstein (D-CA) has suggested that there have been key witnesses and documents being withheld from the impeachment process.
    • Feinstein wrote a letter to her Senate colleagues urging them to support calling for witnesses to testify.
  • Back in 1999, Feinstein agreed that she had the ability to 'cherry pick witnesses' and also mentioned that if there were going to be any witnesses there should be very few.
    • Feinstein also said that people have already seen all of the evidence and really just need to listen to the conversation in the Senate.
  • In January of this year, Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) said that if the Senate did not allow witnesses that it would leave a 'dark mark' on the Senate.
    • Leahy said that the Senate is on trial and 'critical witnesses' must testify.
  • Back in 1999, Leahy agreed that peripheral witnesses were not needed for the Senate impeachment trial of Bill Clinton.
  • Last month, Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) insinuated that the Senate would be involved in a cover-up if witnesses were not allowed to testify.
    • In a recent statement, Schumer threatened to force votes on witnesses when the Senate trial starts.
    • Schumer said that you must have witnesses during a trial.
  • Back in 1999, Schumer criticized the House impeachment managers, 'It seems to me that no good case has been made for witnesses.'
    • Schumer said that the House managers are only interested in 'political theater' and hearing more testimony would be unnecessary.
    • Schumer said that the President should call witnesses, so he has the ability to defend himself.


Despite Opposing Witnesses In 1999, Senator Dick Durbin Now Says You Can't Have A Trial Without Them

Concerning The Trump Impeachment, Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) Said That A Trial Without Witnesses Would Be Considered A Cover Up, Saying That 'You Can't Have A Trial Without Witnesses And Evidence.' 'Why do I think witnesses would be appropriate? Because I spent most of my life before Congress as a trial lawyer. You can't have a trial without witnesses and evidence. You can have a cover-up without witnesses, but you can't have a trial. And I don't think we ought to rule out the possibility that witnesses will get us closer to the truth, whatever that may be.' (PBS's ' News Hour ,' 01/15/20)

  • Durbin Said If There Was An Effort 'To Eliminate The Witnesses,' It Will Be Obvious To The American People Of What The Republicans Are Trying To Do. 'I think it's important for us to realize that a real trial includes evidence. As a lawyer, I brought many cases to trial, a few of them to verdict, and I had to prepare my case, not just my theory of the law or a statement of facts, but proof, real proof, proof that came from documents and witnesses. That's what a real trial is about. Unfortunately, on the other side, the Majority Leader has suggested is that we don't -- has suggested that we don't need witnesses and that it's only evidence of the weakness of the impeachment charges. I think he's wrong. As the democratic leader said this morning, history will prove him wrong. Because impeachment trial after impeachment trial, evidence and witnesses have been presented. That is the tradition and the precedent of the United States Senate. If there is an effort to short circuit that, to eliminate the witnesses and the evidence, I think it will be obvious to the American people who are following this what is under way.' (C-Span , 01/16/20) TIME STAMP: 39:02-40:04
  • Durbin Criticized The President's Defense Team Saying That They Want To Rush The Trial And 'I Hope They Don't Prevail On That Sentiment Because A Race To Justice May Not Serve A Cause Of Impartial Judges.' This morning's newspaper was reported that the President's defense team has been ready, anxious, if you will, for this impeachment trial to begin and equally anxious to end it as quickly as possible. I hope they don't prevail on that sentiment because a race to justice may not serve a cause of impartial judges. We believe the House managers should be allowed to make their presentation, and they will. And the President's defense team as well. We believe we should hear those arguments and proceed to any additional evidence. What kind of evidence may be relevant? As Senator Schumer of New York mentioned a few minutes ago, it seems every day there unfolds another chapter in this story.' ( C-Span , 01/16/20) Time Stamp: 40:06-40:54

But Back In 1999, Senator Dick Durbin Stated That If There Was A Long Trial With Witnesses It Could Be A 'National Embarrassment.' CRIER: 'Well, what do you understand, then, is the reticence, certainly, of people like Trent Lott, to proceed forward? We're hearing the term -- and I apologize, Senator Durbin, but calling this a national crisis -- I think a lot of people out in the hinterland might disagree. It may be a Washington crisis or a presidential crisis, but the country seems to be getting along very nicely. What's the problem with proceeding forward, calling witnesses, if necessary, and if it appears appropriate to have a vote and cease the trial, to do it at least according to constitutional procedure?' DURBIN: 'If you're asking me that question, I would say that there -- of course we could do that, but isn't it interesting that the House Republican managers, all 13, have now said it is indispensable to the cause of justice to call witnesses when, in fact, the House Judiciary Committee never called a material witness to this case before they voted articles of impeachment? They accepted Ken Starr's 60,000 pages of testimony without a single witness being called. Now they're saying we have to have witnesses and a long trial in the Senate. What I think it boils down to is this. It is not a national crisis. If we have a trial, it could be a national embarrassment. It certainly us on Capitol Hill.'(Fox News's 'Crier Report', 01/05/99)

  • In 1999, During The Clinton Impeachment Trials, Senator Dick Durbin Agreed That Final Deliberations Should Be Open In The Senate…And Argued Against Bringing Monica Lewinsky To The Senate Floor.' MR. RUSSERT: 'Senator Durbin, how is this all going to wind up, and should the deliberations be open?' SEN. DURBIN: 'Well, I think the final deliberations should be open, but many of us are trying to spare Monica Lewinsky from this last effort to make her the last victim of this investigation by bringing her to the Senate floor. Frankly, you have to look at this impeachment and say it has poisoned every institution it's touched: the Office of Independent Counsel, the House Judiciary Committee, the House of Representatives. And, unfortunately, last week in a key vote, we were unable to reach bipartisanship in the Senate. I still have hope that we can end this on a bipartisan note.' (NBC's 'Meet The Press', 01/31/99)

Recently, Senator Diane Feinstein Urged Senators To Call For Witnesses, Although In 1999 She Said The Senate Had Seen Enough Evidence

This Month, Diane Feinstein (D-CA) Suggested That There Are Key Witnesses And Documents Being 'Withheld.' 'We know that certain key witnesses haven't provided any testimony and that critical documents have been withheld,' said Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California.' ( New York Times, 01/14/20)

  • Feinstein Wrote A Letter Urging Senators To Support Calling Witnesses To Testify. 'In a letter to her fellow senators on Thursday, Feinstein, the Judiciary Committee's ranking member, emphasized that the White House had prevented several key witnesses from testifying in the House impeachment inquiry who would provide the Senate with firsthand information on the delay in military aid to Ukraine. Those witnesses include acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, former national security adviser John Bolton, senior budget official Michael Duffey and White House aide Robert Blair.' ( NBC News , 01/02/20)

But In 1999, Senator Diane Feinstein Said That People Have Seen All Of The Evidence And Really Should Just Hear The Discussion In The Senate. MR. RUSSERT: 'Let me give Senator Feinstein a chance.' SEN. FEINSTEIN: 'Absolutely, this should be open. If it's a matter of precedent on impeachment, you have to look at the fact that precedent has already been broken. All of the evidence went out to all of American people on the Internet before this thing even began. Therefore--and that's a violation of precedent. People have seen the evidence. Therefore, people really deserve to hear the discussion. I voted all the way through that this be open. I believe it very, very strongly.' (NBC's 'Meet The Press', 02/07/99)

  • Feinstein Said During The Clinton Impeachment Trial She Could 'Cherry- Pick Witnesses' And That There Would Be 'If Any Witnesses, Very Few.' BORGER: 'So, Senator Feinstein, since we've been told you're not normal jurors, essentially what you're saying is then that you can cherry-pick the witnesses you want.' SEN. FEINSTEIN: 'Well, that's absolutely correct. After the dispositive motion, the motion on--to subpoena and depose, people will read the depositions. The--I--I would think there would be ve--if any witnesses, very few witnesses. I would also say there's a possibility that the president may well want to call a witness to establish something in terms of a time line. There were time lines in the presentation, which may or may not be correct. I--I trust the president's lawyers will address them. They may want to prove their case with a witness. So it could go at--any other way.' (CBS's 'Face The Nation', 01/17/99)

During The Trump Impeachment, Senator Patrick Leahy Has Been Critical About Having Witnesses; In 1999, He Said 'Peripheral Witnesses' Were Not Needed

This Month, Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) Stated That If The Senate Did Not Allow Witnesses To Testify It Would Leave A 'Dark Mark' On The Upper Chamber. Leahy compared not allowing witnesses to be 'a dark mark' on the Senate, but also expressed wariness as to if GOP senators would vote to allow the witnesses when the time comes. 'The Senate has changed so much in the last few years that I have real worries whether something like that might happen,' Leahy said. 'I would hope that would happen, but I wonder.'' ( VPR , 01/16/20)

  • Leahy Stated That 'Critical Witnesses' Must Testify As The Senate Is Now On Trial. 'I just spoke on the Senate Floor about impeachment. I firmly believe the Senate itself is now on trial and must not be complicit in a cover-up. Key withheld documents MUST be turned over, and critical witnesses with firsthand knowledge of events MUST testify.' ( Twitter Feed , 01/09/20)

During The Clinton Impeachment, Leahy Argued That 'Peripheral Witnesses' Were Not Needed For The Senate Impeachment Trial Saying 'Of Course You Don't Have Peripheral Witnesses…They Have Nothing To Do With The Charges Involved.' KING: 'Do you agree with Senator Specter: no peripheral witnesses?' LEAHY: 'Well, of course you don't have peripheral witnesses. I mean what are you going to do? These two women are mentioned here. They have nothing to do with the charges involved. Why would we bring them in? They would say, 'Well wait a minute; we want to have immunity,' so then we'd spend weeks while we'd debate whether they're going to have immunity or not. This is going to make more of a farce out of it than it was last month.' (CNN's 'Larry King Live', 01/07/99)

  • Leahy Stated That If President Clinton Was Convicted Without Proof It Would Set A Dangerous Precedent For Our Republic. ' My consideration of the Articles would be incomplete without addressing one final point raised by the House Managers about the effect of our decision. They have cautioned that should this President be acquitted, the consequences would be dire for our children, military morale, and the functioning of our judicial system. I reject these doomsday scenarios and believe that the precedent set by conviction without proof and removal without constitutional justification would be far more dangerous for our Republic.' ( CNN , 02/12/99)

Senator Chuck Schumer Used To Say That Calling Witnesses Does Not Make A Good Case, But Now He Is Willing To Force A Vote On Witnesses

Schumer Threatened To Force Votes On Witnesses When The Impeachment Trial Starts. 'Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said Tuesday that Democrats will force votes on witnesses at the start of the impeachment trial even as Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has secured enough support to delay the decision until mid-trial. 'Make no mistake, on the question of witnesses and documents, Republicans may run but they can't hide. There will be votes at the beginning on whether to call the four witnesses we've proposed and subpoena the documents we've identified,' Schumer said. He added that 'America and the eyes of history will be watching what my Republican colleagues do.'' ( The Hill , 01/07/20)

  • Last Month, Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) Insinuated That The Senate Would 'Enable A Cover-Up' If Witnesses Do Not Testify. 'These events, which were not revealed during House testimony or in the House's impeachment report, demonstrate why the Senate must have its own witnesses, Mr. Schumer said on Monday. 'This story makes the choice even clearer: Will the Senate hold a fair trial, or will it enable a cover-up?' he said. 'President Trump, if you are so confident you did nothing wrong, why won't you let your men testify?'' ( New York Times , 12/30/20)
  • Schumer: 'If You Want The Truth, You Have To Have Witnesses…Who Has Ever Heard Of A Trial Without Witnesses And Documents?' If you want the truth, you have to have witnesses, you have to have documents. Who has ever heard of a trial without witnesses and documents?' ( Newsweek , 01/15/20)

But During Clinton's Impeachment, Schumer Criticized The House Managers Calling Witnesses, 'It Seems To Me That No Good Case Has Been Made For Witnesses' 'I think today is a sad day. It's a sad day for the country, it's a potentially sad day for the Senate. It's certainly a sad day for Monica Lewinsky. It seems to me that no good case has been made for witnesses; that if the purpose, as the House managers state it, for witnesses is to compare the disparities in facts, then they would have called a different list of witnesses because the number one witness who is involved in factual disparities is Betty Currie, and she wasn't called. And with Sidney Blumenthal, there is no factual disparity at all.' ( C-Span , 01/27/99) Time Stamps: 0:55-0:59

  • Schumer: 'My View Is That We Have Heard From Most Of These Witnesses Over And Over Again. We've Heard The Same Story.'.' 'My view is that we have heard from most of these witnesses over and over again. We've heard the same story... I wonder if the House managers aren't a little more interested in political theater than in actually getting to the bottom of the facts.' ( Newsweek , 01/15/20)