Democrats have a new talking point in their attack on Senate Republicans, ahead of a House vote on the impeachment of President Donald Trump later this week: the Senate is denying Trump a “fair trial.”
That is the line taken by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) on Monday, as he insisted that Republicans allow Democrats to call four witnesses who did not appear during the House inquiry.
Three of those witnesses were subpoenaed by the House Intelligence Committee, and declined to appear. Rather than wait for the courts to decide, Democrats passed an article of impeachment on “obstruction of Congress.”
One of the witnesses — former National Security Advisor John Bolton — was never even subpoenaed by the Intelligence Committee, for the same reason: Democrats decided that impeachment simply could not wait.
It would be odd to grant Democrats their requests for witnesses after they themselves decided to impeach Trump before the witnesses could be made available — or, in Bolton’s case, without having even called him in the House.
And Senate Republicans are unlikely to grant Schumer’s request — not after Democrats flouted precedent, due process, and basic fairness in the House, launching a closed-door inquiry in which Republicans were often silenced and were never permitted to call any public witnesses that had not already been called by the Democratic majority.
Schumer’s real goal is to inflict political damage on Republicans by portraying them as part of an attempt to cover up President Trump’s alleged misdeeds. A “fair trial,” he insists, would allow all of the facts and witnesses to appear — never mind that Democrats in the House excluded facts and witnesses Republicans wanted to bring forth.
Democrats are also attacking Senate Republicans for having made up their minds in advance — as if almost every Democratic Senator, especially those running for president, had not already decided on the president’s guilt.
And they are attacking Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) for coordinating with the White House — as if President Bill Clinton did not work with Senate Democrats during his 1999 trial, 100% of whom voted to acquit.
Schumer and the Democrats — and their legal advisers in the academy, who surely know better — are re-defining the idea of a “fair trial” around the prosecutor. It is not the accused who deserves “fairness,” they say, but the accuser.
There is perhaps no greater affront to the liberties of the Constitution — dating back to the Magna Carta, and beyond — than what Democrats are trying to do: declaring the accused must be proved innocent beyond a reasonable doubt.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He earned an A.B. in Social Studies and Environmental Science and Public Policy from Harvard College, and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. He is also the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, which is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.