Wednesday of this week, December 4, 2019, Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) who Chairs the House Judiciary Committee has another committee hearing regarding President Trump’s impeachment. Supposedly this hearing is to question Constitutional “experts” on what is and what is not an impeachable offense based on their opinions regarding impeachment wording in the Constitution. (Again, please note the word “opinions.”)
Nadler as nothing more than a soundbyte offered President Trump the opportunity to “participate” in these hearings. The offer is nothing but a sham: as of this moment, Democrats witnesses haven’t even been named. How could anyone prepare for a hearing without even knowing who will participate?
With this third step of the “Impeachment Inquiry” pending, why don’t we look back to 1998 when then-Representative Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) gave an impassionate and scathing speech on the floor of the House of Representative demeaning Republicans for even initiating impeachment proceedings against President Bill Clinton. It is almost comical to see the obvious hypocrisy among today’s Democrats in Congress and those from 1998 regarding their justifications of what “was” right to do at the time compared to now, and what was “wrong” to do in 1998 compared to today. It’s obvious that political expedience is all that mattered then as it does today.
I’ll read Mr. Nadler’s Congressional speech. We searched diligently in an effort to find an original recording but could not. His verbatim speech text is available for your download at the end of today’s story. In full disclosure, for the sake of your time and the length of his speech, my verbal rendition has been edited for time only — not for context. We have highlighted some of Mr. Nadler’s most salient points, putting those in italics. We’ll spend a few minutes in Summary after the speech.
Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) December 18, 1998
Mr. Speaker, the precedents show and the Nation’s leading scholars and historians overwhelmingly agree that impeachment is reserved under the Constitution only for abuses of presidential power that undermine the structure of functioning of the government or of constitutional liberty. It is not intended as a punishment for crimes but as a protection against the President who would abuse his powers to make himself a tyrant. That is why Benjamin Franklin called impeachment a substitute for assassination. We are told that perjury is as serious an offense as bribery, a per se impeachable offense, but bribery goes to the heart of the President’s conduct of his constitutional duties. It converts his loyalties and efforts from promoting the welfare of the Republic to promoting some other interest.
Perjury is a serious crime and, if provable, should be prosecuted in a court of law. But it may or may not involve the President’s duties and performance in office. Perjury on a private matter, perjury regarding sex, is not a great and dangerous offense against the Nation. It is not an abuse of uniquely presidential power. It does not threaten our form of government. It is not an impeachable offense.
The effect of impeachment is to overturn the popular will of the voters. We must not overturn an election and remove a President from office except to defend our system of government or our constitutional liberties against a dire threat, and we must not do so without an overwhelming consensus of the American people. There must never be a narrowly voted impeachment or an impeachment supported by one of our major political parties and opposed by another. Such an impeachment will produce divisiveness and bitterness in our politics for years to come and will call into question the very legitimacy of our political institutions.
The American people have heard the allegations against the President, and they overwhelmingly oppose impeaching him. They elected President Clinton, they still support him. We have no right to overturn the considered judgment of the American people.
Mr. Speaker, the case against the President has not been made. There is far from sufficient evidence to support the allegations, and the allegations, even if proven true, do not rise to the level of impeachable offenses. This is clearly a partisan railroad job. The American people are watching, and they will not forget.
I believe that we need to get back to basics — the Constitution and what the impeachment power conferred on the Congress requires of us. Article II, section 4 of the Constitution says that a President ‘‘shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.’’ We have received testimony from some of the nation’s leading legal scholars and historians who agree that impeachable offenses are those which are abuses of Presidential power that undermine the structure or functioning of government, or constitutional liberty.
History and the precedents alike show that impeachment is not a punishment for crimes, but a means to protect the constitutional system, and it was certainly not meant to be a means to punish a President for personal wrongdoing not related to his office. Some of our Republican colleagues have made much of the fact that some of the Democrats on this Committee in 1974 voted in favor of an article of impeachment relating to President Nixon’s alleged perjury on his tax returns, but the plain fact is that a bipartisan vote of that Committee — something we have not yet had in this process on any substantive question — rejected that article. That’s the historical record, and it was largely based on the belief that an impeachable offense must be an abuse of Presidential power, a ‘‘great and dangerous offense against the Nation,’’ not perjury on a private matter.
We are told that perjury is as serious an offense as bribery, a per se impeachable offense. But bribery goes to the heart of the President’s conduct of his constitutional duties — it converts his loyalties and efforts from promoting the welfare of the Republic to promoting some other interest. Perjury is a serious crime — and, if provable, should be prosecuted in a court of law. But it may, or may not, involve the President’s duties and performance in office. Perjury on a private matter — perjury regarding sex — is not a ‘‘great and dangerous offense against the Nation.’’ It is not an abuse of uniquely Presidential power. It does not threaten our form of government. It is not an impeachable offense.
There are clearly some members of the Republican majority who have never accepted the results of the 1992 or 1996 elections, and who apparently have chosen to ignore the message of last month’s election, but in a democracy, it is the people who rule, not political elites — and not members of political elites who were repudiated at the last election. Some members of the House may think the people have chosen badly, but it is the people’s choice and we must respect it absent a threat to our democracy that would justify overturning the repeated expression of their will at the ballot box. Members of Congress have no right to arrogate to themselves the power to nullify an election absent that compelling case.
The Judiciary Committee also received testimony from some outstanding former prosecutors, including the former Republican Governor of Massachusetts, William Weld, who headed up the Criminal Division of Ronald Reagan’s Justice Department, who compellingly explained why all the loose talk about perjury and obstruction of justice would not hold up in a real prosecutor’s office — that the evidence we have been given would never support a criminal prosecution in a real court of law.
For those who demand that the President prove his innocence, without his accusers having to prove his guilt or even to state clearly the charges, the Judiciary Committee received answers from the President’s Counsel in which they meticulously pointed out how the charges were not supported and were indeed contradicted, by the evidence Mr. Starr’s own office had assembled. In fact, Mr. Starr has stated in his referral to Congress, that his own ‘‘star witness’’ is not credible, except when her uncorroborated testimony conflicts with the President’s, and then it proves his perjury.
We have received sanctimonious lectures from the other side about the ‘’rule of law,’’ but the law does not permit perjury to be proved by the uncorroborated testimony of one witness. Nor does the law recognize as corroboration the fact that the witness made the same statement to several different people. You may choose to believe that the President was disingenuous, that he was not particularly helpful to Paula Jones’ lawyers when they asked him intentionally vague questions, or that he is a bum, but that does not make him guilty of perjury.
This House is not a grand jury. To impeach the President would subject the country to the trauma of a trial in the Senate. It would paralyze the government for many months. We cannot simply punt the duty to judge the facts to the Senate if we find mere ‘‘probable cause’’ that an impeachable offense may have been committed. To do so would be a derogation of our constitutional duty. The proponents of impeachment have provided no direct evidence of impeachable offenses. They rely solely on the findings of an ‘‘independent’’ counsel who has repeatedly mischaracterized evidence, failed to include exculpatory evidence, and consistently misstated the law.
We have been entrusted with this grave and dangerous duty by the American people, by the Constitution and by history. We must exercise that duty responsibly. At a bare minimum, that means the President’s accusers must go beyond hearsay and innuendo, and beyond demands that the President prove his innocence of vague and changing charges. They must provide clear and convincing evidence of specific impeachable conduct. This they have failed to do.
Some say that if we do not impeach the President, we treat him as if he is above the law. Is the President above the law? Certainly not. He is subject to the criminal law — to indictment and prosecution when he leaves office like any other citizen, whether or not he is impeached. And if the Republican leadership allows a vote, he would likely be the third President in U.S. history, and the first since 1848, to be censured by Congress. But impeachment is intended as a remedy to protect the nation, not as a punishment for a President.
The case is not there — there is far from sufficient evidence to support the allegations, and the allegations, even if proven, do not rise to the level of impeachable offenses. We should not dignify these articles of impeachment by sending them to the Senate. To do so would be an affront to the Constitution and would consign this House to the condemnation of history for generations to come. The American people are watching, and they won’t forget. You may have the votes, you may have the muscle, but you lack the legitimacy of a national consensus and the Constitution. This partisan coup d’etat will go down in the history of this nation in infamy.
Do Democrats really believe that the majority of Americans have no sense of American history? Do they believe the Americans who lived through the Clinton Impeachment do not remember speeches like this one given by Nadler and others in the House of Representatives? If Democrats believe in Americans and our ability to recognize House actions taken in 1998, they would run from their obvious hypocrisy and stop using the same arguments FOR impeachment of President Trump today that they used AGAINST the impeachment of President Clinton in 1998!
Let’s face facts:
- There are NO facts in evidence that Constitutionally justify impeachment;
- There is no historical precedent to which Democrats can point that supported even the Mueller Investigation yet alone Impeachment;
- Democrats have now three different “circus rings” in which they have attempted to remove Mr. Trump from office. First was the closed hearings in which they looked for potential witnesses for public testimony to expose to the public Mr. Trump’s wrongdoing. Second were the public hearings in which each of their star witnesses bombed when they presented alleged wrongdoing by the President that even if committed were not justification for impeachment. Finally, the final stage set for this week: Rep. Nadler presents Constitutional “experts” to teach Americans about impeachment. Of course, they’ll use their “opinions” of the Constitutional basis for Trump’s impeachment.
That’s it — there’s nothing more!
Oh, by the way: the House of Representatives has been doing NOTHING, is doing NOTHING, and will do NOTHING regarding the governing of the United States. Pelosi, Schiff, and Nadler owe the American people multiple apologies for holding the nation hostage to their partisan, dishonest, expensive, and now the three-and-one-half year “vacation” they have taken at our expense to demean the integrity of 63 million American voters who elected Donald Trump.
And, it ain’t over!
(Here’s Nadler’s entire 1998 Impeachment speech)