CNN blasted Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) on Friday over contradictory stances regarding the role of Senators during an impeachment.
In a recent floor speech, Schumer blasted Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) for describing himself as “not an impartial juror” when it comes to Trump’s upcoming impeachment trial.
“Let the American people hear it loud and clear, the Republican leader said, proudly, ‘I’m not an impartial juror. I’m not impartial about this at all.’ That is an astonishing admission of partisanship,” said Schumer.
Yet, as CNN‘s Andrew Kaczynski and Em Steck note, Schumer said during Bill Clinton’s 1998 – 1999 impeachment saga that the Senate was “not like a jury box,” and that senators, who are not impartial, had previously formed their opinions heading into the trial.
Speaking on CNN’s “Larry King Live” in January 1999, Schumer said the trial in the Senate was not like a jury box.
“We have a pre-opinion,” Schumer said, citing himself and two newly-elected Republican senators who had voted on impeachment in 1998 as members of the House of Representatives who said they would vote in the Senate. “This is not a criminal trial, but this is something that the Founding Fathers decided to put in a body that was susceptible to the whims of politics.”
“So therefore, anybody taking an oath tomorrow can have a pre-opinion; it’s not a jury box,” King asked Schumer.
“Many do,” Schumer responded. “And then they change. In fact, it’s also not like a jury box in the sense that people will call us and lobby us. You don’t have jurors called and lobbied and things like that. I mean, it’s quite different than a jury. And we’re also the judge.”
A day later, the Republican National Committee attacked Schumer in a press release for previous comments in the House saying there was no basis for impeachment. –CNN
Then-RNC chairman Jim Nicholson said of Schumer “No self-respecting jury would allow somebody who’s already formed an opinion on the guilt or innocence of the accused,” adding “but Chuck Schumer has loudly proclaimed that he’s pre-judged the case. He’s already announced that he’s decided the President shouldn’t be impeached, much less removed from office.”
Schumer responded days later, telling NBC‘s “Meet the Press”: “The Founding Fathers — whose wisdom just knocks my socks off every day, it really does — set this process up to be in the Senate, not at the Supreme Court, not in some judicial body.”
“Every day, for instance, hundreds of people call us up and lobby us on one side and the other. You can’t do that with a juror,” he added. “The standard is different. It’s supposed to be a little bit judicial and a little bit legislative-political. That’s how it’s been.
Meanwhile, Schumer said in a 1998 Op-Ed that he would be voting to acquit Clinton, and that he’d made up his mind that September.
“My decision will not come as a surprise,” Schumer wrote. “I will be voting to acquit the president on both counts. I had to make my decision in September as a member of the Judiciary Committee in the House, and while I was in the middle of the campaign.”
Responding to CNN‘s recent report (yet failing to explain the ‘impartial juror’ hypocrisy), Schumer’s office said that his statements came after the conclusion of the Starr investigation, “which included testimony from key witnesses including President Clinton, had concluded and been made public for months and as Sen. Schumer was in the anomalous position of having already voted on impeachment in both the House Judiciary Committee and on the House floor.”
“As is reflected in these quotes, Schumer believed then and still believes now that all of the facts must be allowed to come out and then a decision can be made — in stark contrast to the Republicans today in both the House and Senate who have worked to prevent all the facts and evidence from coming out.”