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Three Major Procedural Rights Republicans Gave Democrats During Clinton’s Impeachment That They Are Withholding Today

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Anders Hagstrom White House Correspondent
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As Democrats move closer and closer to an impeachment vote in the House, Republicans are railing on Democrats’ procedural decisions that they see as unfair and a violation of due process.

Looking back to the Republican impeachment of President Bill Clinton, however, Republicans may have a point. There are several areas that Republicans were far more permissive with Clinton-era Democrats than Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Adam Schiff have been with Trump and House Republicans.

1. Testimonies: Public Or Behind Closed Doors?

Chairman Adam Schiff, Democrat of California, speaks during the first public hearings held by the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence as part of the impeachment inquiry into US President Donald Trump, with witnesses Ukrainian Ambassador William Taylor and Deputy Assistant Secretary George Kent testifying, on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, November 13, 2019. - Donald Trump faces the most perilous challenge of his three-year presidency as public hearings convened as part of the impeachment probe against him open under the glare of television cameras on Wednesday. (Photo by SAUL LOEB / POOL / AFP) (Photo by SAUL LOEB/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

Chairman Adam Schiff, Democrat of California, speaks during the first public hearings held by the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence as part of the impeachment inquiry into US President Donald Trump, with witnesses Ukrainian Ambassador William Taylor and Deputy Assistant Secretary George Kent testifying, on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, November 13, 2019. (SAUL LOEB/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Adam Schiff’s opening move in his impeachment inquiry was to place Republican committee members under a gag rule and hold closed-door hearings.

The Republicans’ minority report following the conclusion of Schiff’s inquiry complained that he had used the gag rule and closed-door setting to “selectively leak” information to the press. (RELATED: ‘Political Theter’ – McConnell Attacks Democrats’ House Impeachment Inquiry)

“For the first phase of the Democrats’ impeachment inquiry, Chairman Schiff led the inquiry from his Capitol basement bunker, preventing transparency on the process and accountability for his actions,” Republicans accused.

Republican Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz led a group of more than a dozen Republicans to literally storm Schiff’s closed impeachment proceedings.


Republicans held no such hearings during President Bill Clinton’s impeachment proceedings. In fact, the Republican-held House conducted no investigation of its own into the facts of Clinton’s case, relying instead on the already-public report from Independent Counsel Ken Starr.

Democrat members were also allowed to speak freely about the proceedings.

2. Both Sides Allowed To Question Witnesses:

Republican Representative from Ohio Jim Jordan (C) questions former US Special Representative for Ukraine Kurt Volker and former Senior Director for Europe and Russia at the National Security Council Tim Morrison during the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence public hearing on the impeachment inquiry into US President Donald J. Trump, on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC on November 19, 2019. - President Donald Trump faces more potentially damning testimony in the Ukraine scandal as a critical week of public impeachment hearings opens Tuesday in the House of Representatives. (Photo by SHAWN THEW / AFP) (Photo by SHAWN THEW/AFP via Getty Images)

Republican Representative from Ohio Jim Jordan (C) questions former US Special Representative for Ukraine Kurt Volker and former Senior Director for Europe and Russia at the National Security Council Tim Morrison during the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence public hearing on the impeachment inquiry into US President Donald J. Trump. (SHAWN THEW/AFP via Getty Images)

Chairman Schiff prevented Republicans from effectively cross-examining witnesses in both the closed-door hearings and in parts of the public hearings.

“Chairman Schiff provided no due process protections for the president and he directed witnesses called by Democrats not to answer Republican questions,” the minority report read. (RELATED: Poll: Independents Flip On Impeachment, Now Vastly Opposed After Two Weeks Of Public Hearings)

Schiff argued that Republicans’ questions could lead to exposing the whistleblower whose complaint prompted the investigation. He repeatedly stopped Republican Reps. Jim Jordan and Elise Stefanik from pursuing lines of questioning with witnesses.

“Will the chairman continue to prohibit witnesses from answering Republican questions as you’ve done in closed hearings and as you did?” Stefanik asked during the second public impeachment hearing.

“That’s not a proper point of order. Gentlewoman will suspend,” Schiff replied.

During Clinton’s impeachment process, however, the Republican House majority allowed Democrats to pursue their own lines of questioning with each witness, including Starr, the central investigator.

3. Both Sides Allowed To Call Witnesses:

Constitutional scholars (L-R) Noah Feldman of Harvard University, Pamela Karlan of Stanford University, Michael Gerhardt of the University of North Carolina, and Jonathan Turley of George Washington University are sworn in prior to testifying before the House Judiciary Committee in the Longworth House Office Building on Capitol Hill December 4, 2019 in Washington, DC. This is the first hearing held by the House Judiciary Committee in the impeachment inquiry against U.S. President Donald Trump, whom House Democrats say held back military aid for Ukraine while demanding it investigate his political rivals. The Judiciary Committee will decide whether to draft official articles of impeachment against President Trump to be voted on by the full House of Representatives. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Constitutional scholars (L-R) Noah Feldman of Harvard University, Pamela Karlan of Stanford University, Michael Gerhardt of the University of North Carolina, and Jonathan Turley of George Washington University are sworn in prior to testifying before the House Judiciary Committee. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Throughout Chairmain Schiff’s closed-door and public impeachment hearings, he only allowed Republicans to call a single witness, George Washington University Law Professor Jonathan Turley.

Republicans had an extensive list of potential witnesses, including Vice President Joe Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, and the Ukrainian-American DNC staffer Alexandra Chalupa. Republicans argued that Biden’s allegedly corrupt dealings in Ukraine were central to President Trump’s withholding of aid to the country, and that Chalupa had worked with Ukrainian officials to get dirt on then-candidate Trump and supplied it to Hillary Clinton’s campaign. None were called to testify.

“This is an impeachment inquiry. And, in fact, Speaker [Nancy] Pelosi’s resolution confirms that it’s an impeachment inquiry, yet every other impeachment inquiry we’ve had have in the history of our country – all three – have allowed both sides to call witnesses,” Republican Louisiana Rep. Steve Scalise told reporters. “Have allowed the White House to participate. That’s not happening right now.”

During Republicans’ impeachment hearings against President Clinton, however, Democrats were allowed to call and question several witnesses. (RELATED: ‘Don’t Mess With Me’: Nancy Pelosi Snaps At Reporter Who Asked If She Hates Trump)

The Clinton White House was given dozens of hours of to defend itself before the House Judiciary Committed, calling up four panels of its own witnesses, according to CNN.

President Trump’s White House has been given no such opportunity.