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Weekly Column: An Unprecedented Impeachment Process

Guest column submitted by U.S. Senator Mike Crapo

The unprecedented impeachment process House Democrats have undertaken lacks transparency and due process.  I am a strong supporter and co-sponsor of a Senate Resolution highlighting the shortcomings of these proceedings and calling on the U.S. House of Representatives to provide the President of the United States basic principles of due process. 

On October 24, 2019, Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) introduced S.Res. 378 that specifies serious concerns with the impeachment proceedings initiated in the U.S. House of Representatives, provides past context for why the proceedings are unjust and calls on House leadership to take steps to address these failures.  Fellow Idaho Senator James E. Risch and I are among the original co-sponsors of this commonsense resolution.  The resolution includes the following key assertions:

  • “one of the cornerstones of the American constitution is due process: the right to confront your accuser, call witnesses on your behalf, and challenge the accusations against you;”
  • “the House of Representatives is abandoning more than a century’s worth of precedent and tradition in impeachment proceedings and denying President Trump basic fairness and due process accorded every American;”
  • “in our nation’s history, the House has on three occasions moved to formally investigate whether sufficient grounds exist to impeach a President, and in all three of these cases, the full House voted on a resolution authorizing the House Judiciary Committee to determine whether to impeach the President;”
  • “in the case of President Trump, a formal impeachment process involving debate and a vote by the full House prior to taking each step in the process has been replaced by a press conference by the Speaker of the House;”
  • “the House is denying President Trump due process within the ‘inquiry’ itself;” and
  • “rather than giving President Trump the same due process rights that President Clinton had to raise and litigate claims of constitutional privilege, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff has repeatedly threatened to use President Trump’s assertion of his constitutional rights as evidence of obstruction and to impeach President Trump for trying to litigate those claims”.  

The resolution highlights that the main allegation against President Trump is from an anonymous source, and witness interviews have been conducted behind closed doors with limited participation by Republican Representatives.  We also point to the unprecedented nature of the Speaker of the House directing the proceedings without any debate or a vote on the House floor. 

We compare these actions with the impeachment investigations of President Richard M. Nixon and President William J. Clinton, in which the House Judiciary Committee adopted rules of procedure to provide due process rights and to ensure fairness.  We included an outline of these rights that included allowing the President to be represented by counsel, enabling the President’s counsel to be present at all hearings and depositions and giving the President’s counsel access to, and the ability to respond to, the evidence. 

These are fundamental expectations that all Americans must be afforded, especially in a process of such magnitude.  The fact that basic due process is being ignored is reprehensible.  As we call for in the resolution, prior to proceeding any further with impeachment proceedings, the House of Representatives should provide President Trump, like every other American, with due process; vote to initiate a formal impeachment inquiry; and provide Republicans and Democrats both the ability to participate fully in all proceedings. 

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