As Congress returns to work for the new year, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is showing Americans that Democrats continue to be fixated on their only objective: Undoing the results of the 2016 election by removing President Trump from office.
Despite the urgency they once had to move forward, Democrats are holding onto the articles of impeachment as they hypocritically call for so-called fairness, a criteria they neglected throughout their entire process. This delay exposes the simple truth that there is no urgency because they have no case.
Democrats spent months, or as the speaker recently admitted “two-and-a-half years,” attempting to build an impeachment case against the president. The longer they continued to work toward their pre-determined outcome, support for removing the president continued to decline. It was a sentiment shared in our own chamber when on the evening of Dec. 18 the only bipartisan vote was opposition to impeachment and their caucus became smaller, ours stronger.
The speaker chose to follow an arbitrary timeline to achieve Democrats’ desired end goal and used specially-designed rules to ensure the process was fast, but not fair. As constitutional legal scholar Jonathan Turley told the Judiciary Committee, the Democrats’ rush to impeachment on weak grounds, with unfair procedures, is the only “abuse of power” taking place.
It is also ironic that Mrs. Pelosi is making demands about the Senate’s procedures after ignoring any semblance of fairness or precedent in the House.
Immediately after the speaker unilaterally declared an impeachment inquiry, I sent her a letter outlining what a fair process would require in the House.
The procedures I requested were not partisan demands. They are the same procedures the House followed during the impeachments for Presidents Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton, when, like today, the presidency and the House were controlled by different parties. They would have helped ensure that basic standards of due process, the foundation of our justice system, were upheld regardless of political affiliation.
But Mrs. Pelosi dismissed the reasonable concerns in my letter, and instead deprived Mr. Trump of the opportunity to defend himself. The president had rights only at the Democrats’ discretion.
For instance, Mr. Clinton’s lawyers were given the opportunity to cross-examine impeachment fact witnesses and investigators. Mr. Trump’s attorneys were not invited to be present for depositions of fact witnesses. They were only invited to cross-examine constitutional scholars, whose subjective opinions are irrelevant in building a defense.
Likewise, in the impeachment of Mr. Clinton, the majority and minority parties had co-equal subpoena authority. This was absent in the Trump impeachment. When House Republicans requested documents and witnesses be subpoenaed, we were ignored.
Along with scrapping bipartisan precedents from previous impeachments, the speaker also disregarded her own sensible standards from March that impeachment must be “overwhelming,” “compelling” and “bipartisan.” Because Democrats chose to move so fast and wanted to impeach so badly, none of her own criteria were met.
While Mrs. Pelosi points fingers at Senate Republicans for presumptively claiming there won’t be fairness during the impeachment trial, she should be looking within her own caucus. Almost half the Democrats in the House (44 percent) voted to impeach Mr. Trump before the Ukraine call took place. And Mrs. Pelosi moved to impeach the president before she saw one shred of evidence. There is certainly an issue with fairness, but the problem does not lie with the Republicans.
Mrs. Pelosi can try to spin this delay as a call for fairness, but the American people know the truth about the Democrats’ misguided priorities and baseless argument for impeachment. Now that they have come to terms with how they have recklessly managed their constitutional powers, House Democrats shouldn’t expect the Senate to bail them out.
Their majority’s entire legacy will be defined by this monumental failure.
• Kevin McCarthy is House Minority Leader.