House Speaker Nancy Pelosi sent seven of her fellow Democratic representatives to wage the war for President Donald Trump’s removal from office in the Senate, but many of them were singing a different tune during President Bill Clinton’s impeachment trial.
Here’s what Pelosi’s impeachment managers were saying 20 years ago.
Rep. Adam Schiff:
When California Rep. Adam Schiff first gained his seat in 2000, he did it by campaigning against Clinton’s impeachment, according to the Daily Caller News Foundation. His opponent, Republican Rep. James Rogan, had supported the impeachment, which Schiff then referred to as “partisan.” (RELATED: Republican Senators Are Literally Playing With Kids’ Toys During The Impeachment Trial)
“The district simply has not been a priority for [Rogan]. He has been more engaged in national partisan ideological crusades than in issues important to the district,” Schiff told the Los Angeles Times in January 2000. “I think voters want to get away from the strong partisanship we’ve seen in Congress and elect someone with a good record of working in a bipartisan way to find solutions.”
“Schiff’s campaign literature hammers away on Rogan’s role in the impeachment proceedings,” The Washington Post noted in a May 2000 article.
While Schiff saw the Clinton impeachment as “polarizing” and “partisan,” even with five Democrats joining Republicans at the time, he hasn’t applied that criticism to Trump’s impeachment, which not a single Republican has supported and two Democrats have opposed.
Rep. Jerry Nadler:
Behind Pelosi and Schiff, New York Democratic Rep. Jerry Nadler has been the top player in Trump’s impeachment proceedings. In 1998, however, he argued a purely partisan impeachment would “lack legitimacy.”
“There must never be a narrowly-voted impeachment or an impeachment substantially supported by one of our major political parties and largely opposed by the other.”
“Such an impeachment would lack legitimacy.”
Good point, Chairman Nadler. pic.twitter.com/wlrxXb2Aji
— Kevin McCarthy (@GOPLeader) December 4, 2019
“There must never be a narrowly-voted impeachment or an impeachment substantially supported by one of our major political parties and largely opposed by the other… Such an impeachment would lack legitimacy, would produce divisiveness and bitterness in our politics for years to come and will call into question the very legitimacy of our political institutions,” Nadler said in 1998 during the Clinton impeachment proceedings.
Today, however, Nadler’s fears over national unity have disappeared amid the even-more-partisan Trump impeachment. (RELATED: McConnell Makes Changes To Senate Impeachment Trial Rules)
“This is a continuing threat to the integrity of our elections,” he said on ABC. “This president conspired — sought foreign interference in the 2016 election. He is openly seeking foreign interference in the 2020 election.”
Rep. Zoe Lofgren:
California Rep. Zoe Lofgren is the only person to be on Capitol Hill for all three modern day impeachment proceedings: Nixon, Clinton, and now Trump.
Like her fellow impeachment managers, Lofgren opposed Clinton’s impeachment, and even argued against the public release of evidence uncovered in the special counsel investigation into Clinton.
“When we got [Ken] Starr’s Referral, I believed that, at a minimum, we should have read what it said, and discussed it, before we released it to the nation,” she wrote in 1998. “Instead, we released the Referral and this was followed in fast succession by thousands of pages of additional material that the nation need not have seen. We justified this wholesale release by insisting that the people had a right to know, presumably so they could be persuaded by the facts and constitutional standard as to what was the right course to follow.”
During Trump’s impeachment proceedings in the Senate, however, Lofgren has made the same argument she criticized Republicans for making in 1998: That the American people deserved the full story.
Lofgren also criticized Republicans in for holding closed-door hearings during Clinton’s impeachment, the very thing Republicans now accuse Schiff of doing in the House prior to Trump’s impeachment. (RELATED: Check Out These Media Personalities Arguing Witnesses Shouldn’t Testify In Clinton Impeachment)
“While our system of government is based on openness, we repeatedly hid behind closed doors to conduct our business. The House Judiciary Committee met to decide what salacious material to make public but for the most part instead engaged in spirited debate about the Constitution, fairness, our country, and our future,” she wrote. “All motions made to open the meeting or to release the transcripts of executive sessions were voted down by the Republican majority.”
The Young Guns:
Several of the impeachment managers weren’t around for the Clinton impeachment, however, and don’t have comments on the record.
These include New York Democratic Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, who first took elected office in 2006 and joined Congress in 2012; Texas Democratic Rep. Sylvia Garcia, who took elected office in 2013 and joined Congress in 2019; Florida Democratic Rep. Val Demings, who joined Congress in 2016, and Colorado Democratic Rep. Jason Crow, who joined Congress in 2019.