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?
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.
WATCH: here’s the video of when 2 dozen GOP members, led by @mattgaetz entered the secure hearing room (SCIF) to interrupt witness testimony in the #ImpeachmentInquiry as they demand access, despite not being committee members. They’re complaining it’s a “Soviet-style process”. pic.twitter.com/8KddYz3r9D
— Scott Thuman (@ScottThuman) October 23, 2019
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:
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:
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.