“Now that Congress is officially engaged in a so-called ‘impeachment inquiry,’ it is incumbent upon you and the Democratic caucus to be faithful to your prior statement and to prioritize due process. In light of this, I hope that you join me in demanding the House take the same steps as have historically been taken to ensure fairness throughout impeachment proceedings.”
“Thus far, the House has completely failed to deliver on your 2016 promise to provide ‘rigorous due process.’ . . . I urge you to promptly rectify these failures.”
WASHINGTON — Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.), Ranking Member of the House Judiciary Committee, wrote the following letter to Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) calling on him to prioritize due process and ensure fairness in impeachment proceedings conducted by the Judiciary Committee.
The letter is available here and below.
November 14, 2019
The Honorable Jerrold Nadler
Committee on the Judiciary
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, D.C. 20515
Dear Chairman Nadler,
On June 22, 2016, during hearings exploring the potential impeachment of IRS Commissioner Koskinen, you said: “The power of impeachment is a solemn responsibility, assigned to the House by the Constitution, and to this Committee by our peers. That responsibility demands a rigorous level of due process.” Now that Congress is officially engaged in a so-called “impeachment inquiry,” it is incumbent upon you and the Democratic caucus to be faithful to your prior statement and to prioritize due process. In light of this, I hope that you join me in demanding the House take the same steps as have historically been taken to ensure fairness throughout impeachment proceedings.
I. Participation of President’s Counsel in Impeachment Proceedings
The rules of the current “impeachment inquiry” allow the President and his counsel to participate only in impeachment hearings held by the Judiciary Committee, but not in hearings or interviews held by the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI). Permitting the President to participate only in Judiciary Committee activities is a thinly-veiled attempt by Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Chairman Adam Schiff to erect a façade of fairness, while in practice denying the President and his counsel the protections and involvement afforded, historically, to every other president subject to impeachment proceedings.
Historically, impeachment proceedings have been conducted by the Judiciary Committee—not HPSCI. This includes proceedings during the information-gathering stage. The President and his counsel have always been invited to participate in impeachment proceedings from the outset. In the cases of Presidents Nixon and Clinton, the House adopted resolutions to commence impeachment proceedings and gave sole jurisdiction to the Judiciary Committee. In both instances, the President and his counsel were afforded the chance to participate in all substantive hearings. That has not happened here.
So far, the Judiciary Committee has been excluded from all closed-door witness interviews during these impeachment proceedings. Judiciary Committee Members and staff are also prohibited from participating in HPSCI’s current spate of public hearings. If this trend continues and the Judiciary Committee remains sidelined, the President and his counsel will be denied the procedural protections and fairness afforded by Congress to presidents in prior impeachment inquiries. The accused will not be able to confront his potential accusers, cross examine witnesses, or test the evidence. The process will be devoid of fundamental fairness.
II. Holding Public Hearings in the Judiciary Committee
Although the current impeachment procedures adopted by the House allow the Judiciary Committee to hold hearings, they do not require the Committee to do so. The rules require only that the Judiciary Committee receive a presentation from someone on HPSCI’s staff. Mr. Chairman, will the Judiciary Committee’s involvement in the impeachment of a sitting president be limited to hearing from a member of Chairman Schiff’s staff?
If the answer to this question is yes, then this Committee’s historical role and importance has been drastically undermined under your leadership. But even more significant than the watering down of this Committee’s historical importance would be the complete lack of procedural fairness afforded to the President and, ultimately, to the American electorate.
If the answer to the question is no, what exactly will this Committee’s role be during the second phase of this unprecedented “impeachment inquiry”? If relevant fact witnesses are going to be called to testify privately and publicly before HPSCI, as appears to be the case, will you recall witnesses to testify, some for a third time, before our Committee? If the answer is no, then again House Democrats are denying the President the procedural protections rooted in our historical traditions. If this Committee will not hear from fact witnesses, will we again be relegated simply to hearing the opinions of cable news pundits and partisan academics?
Thus far, the House has completely failed to deliver on your 2016 promise to provide “rigorous due process.” Indeed, Chairman Schiff is proceeding without regard to fairness or historical precedent. For the first time in modern history, an impeachment of a President has been initiated by a single party and conducted outside of the Judiciary Committee. What concerns me most, however, is the extent to which you seem willing to allow Chairman Schiff to strip the accused of deep-rooted principles of procedural fairness by prohibiting the duly-elected President from participating in the proceedings in any meaningful way, and thereby denying due process to the American electorate. I urge you to promptly rectify these failures.