The Senate Has Held 15 Impeachment Trials And Allowed Witnesses At Every One

Screengrab/Washington Post/YouTube


The precedent for calling witnesses at a Senate impeachment trial is abundantly clear, writes Noah Bookbinder.

In the Senate’s 231-year history, it has conducted 15 impeachment trials, and in every single case, witnesses were called to testify, according to Noah Bookbinder, executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington and a former federal corruption prosecutor.

Writing for The Washington Post, Bookbinder noted that a total of 19 individuals, prior to President Donald Trump, have faced impeachment, and of those, 15 went to trial in the Senate. The rest either ended with resignations or expulsion. Only two trials involved sitting presidents.

But in every trial, the Senate heard witness testimony, and not only from witnesses previously questioned by the House. In the case of former President Bill Clinton, “the Senate permitted House managers to obtain trial depositions of three witnesses — Monica Lewinsky, Clinton confidant Vernon Jordan and White House aide Sidney Blumenthal — and the full Senate viewed video excerpts of those depositions.”

During former President Andrew Johnson’s Senate trial, a total of 41 witnesses testified. And in the cases of the others — largely involving judges — numerous witnesses were called every time.

The precedent is therefore undeniably clear, Bookbinder wrote, and Senators in this case must treat the responsibility of an impeachment trial with the gravity it deserves.

“Given the stakes for our democracy and for the Senate, it is alarming that any member of the institution would consider voting on the question of whether to remove a president from office without taking every available step to fully get to the bottom of what he did,” he argued.

“Departing from Senate precedent by refusing to hear from witnesses with firsthand knowledge of the president’s abuses of power would be a betrayal” of the solemn oath each Senator will take to do impartial justice at Trump’s trial.

It would also represent a betrayal of the American people, Bookbinder concluded.

Read the full op-ed.


U.S. & Global News