Biden in 1999: ‘Senate May Dismiss Articles of Impeachment Without Holding a Full Trial or Taking New Evidence’
“In light of the extensive record already compiled, it may be that the benefit of receiving additional evidence or live testimony is not great enough to outweigh the public costs (in terms of national prestige, faith in public institutions, etc.) of such a proceeding.”
It’s so WEIRD how politicians change when the president is not a member of their party. Look at what 2020 Democratic presidential hopeful former Vice President Joe Biden wrote in 1999 when he served as a Delaware senator.
Biden wrote a memo to the Democratic Caucus titled, “Arguments in Support of a Summary Impeachment Trial.”
He asserted that the chamber “need not hold a ‘full blown’ trial.”
Biden listed two cases in which the Senate did not hold a full trial. He reminded his colleagues that these “cases demonstrate that the Senate may dismiss articles of impeachment without holding a full trial or taking new evidence.”
He also noted that “the Constitution does not impose on the Senate the duty to hold a trial.”
The conclusion of the memo argued against a drawn-out impeachment trial:
“In light of the extensive record already compiled, it may be that the benefit of receiving additional evidence or live testimony is not great enough to outweigh the public costs (in terms of national prestige, faith in public institutions, etc.) of such a proceeding,” Biden said. “While a judge may not take such considerations into account, the Senate is uniquely competent to make such a balance.”
Biden and other Clinton allies — including now-Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) — lost the witness fight during that 1999 trial. The Senate agreed to depose former White House intern Monica Lewinsky, whose affair with Clinton led to just the second presidential impeachment in history, as well as two other witnesses.
Despite those interviews, Clinton was acquitted by the Senate in February 1999. Clinton’s administration cooperated more with the special counsel, leading to a more voluminous record of evidence in his trial. The Trump White House has refused to make officials available for interviews or key documents to House investigators.
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