Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer is demanding the Senate Republicans allow witnesses during President Donald Trump’s upcoming Senate trial which directly contradicts statements that he made in the past during former President Bill Clinton’s impeachment.
Schumer has repeatedly made the demand in media interviews, speeches on the Senate floor, and in tweets, suggesting the Senate Republicans are engaged in a cover-up if they do not allow witnesses during the Senate trial.
Yet, on January 14, 1999, Schumer said during Clinton’s impeachment that witnesses were supposed to be called prior to the Senate trial and that it “doesn’t make sense” to call them during the Senate trial.
A reporter asked Schumer, “You said that one of the reasons they didn’t call witnesses in the House was to accommodate Democrats. How do you respond to that?”
“Let me say this idea that they didn’t have to call witnesses in the House and they should call them in the Senate doesn’t make sense,” Schumer responded. “You call witnesses before a grand jury and you call witnesses before a trial. So, there were some on my side, I was not among them, but some on my side who argued strongly that they outta call witnesses and they resisted it every step of the way.”
“There has not been a good explanation why 60,000 pages of testimony was good enough for the House but isn’t good enough for the Senate,” Schumer continued.
Fox News reported that approximately two weeks after Schumer made the remarks he “roundly dismissed the importance of, and voted against, such witness testimony — suggesting it amounted to ‘political theater.'”
“It seems to me that no good case has been made for witnesses,” Schumer said during a press conference on January 27, 1999, later adding, “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.”
It’s worth noting that Schumer only wants witnesses to be called that he believes would help the Democrats’ case against the president and appears to oppose allowing witnesses to testify who would hurt their case.
“Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) told CNN [in mid-December] that former Vice President Joe Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, should not testify in a likely Senate impeachment trial, with the Senate minority leader arguing it would result in the process becoming a “circus,'” The Hill reported in December. “Republicans have accused Joe Biden of pushing Ukraine to fire a prosecutor that had investigated the Ukrainian company that employed Hunter Biden.”
Jonathan Turley, a Trump critic and Constitutional Law Professor at George Washington University, wrote in a recent op-ed in The Washington Post that Hunter Biden would be a disaster for Democrats if he was called on to testify:
In a conventional trial, Biden would be a relevant defense witness. Biden’s testimony would have bearing on a key question in an abuse-of-power trial. Trump insists that he raised the issue of Hunter Biden’s relationship with a Ukrainian energy firm to the Ukrainian president as part of an overall concern he had about ongoing corruption in that country. If that contract with the son of a former vice president could be shown to be a corrupt scheme to advance the interests of a foreign company or country, it might be Trump’s best defense.
Trump’s position is that he did not arbitrarily ask a country to investigate a possible political rival. Had Trump called for an investigation into Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s (D-Mass.) husband, for example, without a scintilla of proof of corruption, it would be entirely indefensible. However, the Biden contract was so openly corrupt it would have made Jack Abramoff blush.
If the Biden contract was an ongoing corrupt effort to secure influence and money from the United States, Trump’s reference to it in a discussion of corruption has a possible public purpose. While one can certainly conclude that self-dealing by the president is a plausible explanation, there is no question that the testimony of Biden would be relevant.
Schumer knows that neither Biden nor his contract will show well under the glare of a public impeachment trial. In addition to his glaring lack of relevant experience, the younger Biden has a checkered history — from drug addiction to being thrown out of the Naval Reserve — that would have led most companies to avoid him. The trial might also force the public to consider Joe Biden’s failure to ask about his son’s dubious foreign dealings. Joe Biden himself seems delusional in claiming, “No one has said my son did anything wrong.”
Schumer has shown has repeatedly shown his hypocrisy throughout the current impeachment process, as he recently slammed Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell for admitting his pro-Trump bias and saying that he was not a “impartial juror.”
“Let the American people hear it loud and clear, the Republican leader said, proudly, ‘I’m not an impartial juror. I’m not impartial about this at all.’ That is an astonishing admission of partisanship,” Schumer said last month. “The American people want Mitch McConnell to be an impartial juror in this situation. … I’m withholding any final decision until we hear all the evidence.”
However, CNN later reported that Schumer essentially said the same exact thing during the Clinton impeachment in 1999:
But in several appearances on television in 1998 and 1999 reviewed by CNN’s KFile, Schumer noted that senators had previously formed opinions heading into the trial and that the Senate was “not like a jury box.” Schumer was elected to the Senate in 1998 after saying during his campaign that a vote for him would be a vote to not impeach Clinton.
CNN provided remarks that Schumer made at the time during an interview on CNN’s “Larry King Live” in January 1999:
“We have a pre-opinion,” Schumer said, citing himself and two newly-elected Republican senators who had voted on impeachment in 1998 as members of the House of Representatives who said they would vote in the Senate. “This is not a criminal trial, but this is something that the Founding Fathers decided to put in a body that was susceptible to the whims of politics.”
“So therefore, anybody taking an oath tomorrow can have a pre-opinion; it’s not a jury box,” King asked Schumer.
“Many do,” Schumer responded. “And then they change. In fact, it’s also not like a jury box in the sense that people will call us and lobby us. You don’t have jurors called and lobbied and things like that. I mean, it’s quite different than a jury. And we’re also the judge.”
Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) noted in an interview this week that the idea that Democrats should be able to call witnesses that help them but that the Republicans should not be able to call witnesses that Trump is absurd.
Paul made the remarks in response to House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler demanding that “all relevant witnesses” be included in the Senate trial.
“Well, it’s kind of interesting,” Paul began. “The comment is that all relevant witnesses. Would he agree that Hunter Biden is relevant, that Joe Biden’s relevant, and that the whistleblower’s relevant?”
“My guess is no. They want all witnesses that they want. And they don’t want any witnesses that the president wants,” Paul continued. “So, I say this. Either allow all witnesses, all witnesses that the president’s defense team deems necessary to their defense, or no witnesses. We’re not going to do a kangaroo court, like they did in the House. The House only produced witnesses that Adam Schiff agreed to.”
“So, I mean, what kind of kangaroo court is it where only the Democrats get to pick the witnesses, and they decide who’s relevant? Paul continued. “So, no, that’s absurd. So, I think the Senate will be more fair. I think both Republicans and Democrats want a more fair-minded presentation. But it’s not going to be — we’re not going to just invite witnesses the Democrats want and say, oh, the president can’t invite witnesses that he think would help him.”