Former Vice President Joe Biden argued in favor of a summary impeachment trial in 1999, saying that the Senate was not obligated to hear new witnesses or review new evidence.
Biden was the author of a four-page memo titled “Arguments in Support of a Summary Impeachment Trial,” which he shared with other senators on January 5, 1999 — just two days ahead of then-President Bill Clinton’s impeachment trial.
New w @BresPolitico: As senator in 1999, Joe Biden wrote four-page memo arguing against need for Senate to bring in witnesses in impeachment trial
“The Senate may dismiss articles of impeachment without holding a full trial or taking new evidence.”https://t.co/Y91czgA7pB
— Burgess Everett (@burgessev) January 31, 2020
In the memo, which was obtained by Politico, Biden acknowledged that the Constitution gave the Senate to full power to try impeachments but did not order the body to do so.
“The Senate may dismiss articles of impeachment without holding a full trial or taking new evidence. Put another way, the Constitution does not impose on the Senate the duty to hold a trial,” Biden explained. (RELATED: Joe Biden Won’t Say Whether A Bernie Sanders Nomination Could Unify The Democratic Party)
In addition, Biden claimed that the Senate also had wide latitude with regard to the manner in which any trial was to be conducted, citing precedent that he said offered support for a decision to reject new witnesses, testimony and evidence.
“In a number of previous impeachment trials, the Senate has reached the judgment that its constitutional role as a sole trier of impeachments does not require it to take new evidence or hear live witness testimony.”
The Senate is expected to vote Friday on the issue of new witnesses and documents with regard to President Donald Trump’s ongoing impeachment trial.