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Top Senate Republicans Claim Impeachment Resolution Denies Trump ‘Basic Due Process’

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell speaks with reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., May 7, 2019. (Aaron P. Bernstein/Reuters)

One day after House Democrats released a resolution formalizing the ongoing impeachment inquiry process, top Senate Republicans dismissed the non-binding legislation as a stunt designed to deny President Trump “due process.”

“They have denied President Trump basic due process and are cutting his counsel out of the process in an unprecedented way. House Democrats’ new resolution does not change any of that,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said. “The draft resolution that has been released does nothing of the sort. It falls way short, way short.”

House Rules Committee Chairman Jim McGovern released the impeachment resolution, which sets up procedures for the “public-facing phase” of the impeachment probe, including open hearings before the Intelligence Committee.

Under the process outlined in the resolution, Republicans on the panel will be able to request witness testimony, but Democratic committee chairmen will have the option to decline those requests.

Further along in the process, Trump and his lawyers will be allowed to question witnesses and request testimony and documents before the House Judiciary Committee.

A floor vote on the resolution is expected as soon as this week.

House Democrats have for weeks been conducting closed-door hearings featuring witnesses to Trump’s July phone call with Ukrainian president Voldymyr Zelensky, and others familiar with the recent administration of U.S. policy toward Ukraine.

Republicans have long complained that these hearings represent a departure from the norms of due process due to their private nature and Schiff’s exercise of tight control over members’ time. Echoing this theme, House Minority Whip Steve Scalise said Tuesday that Schiff has overseen a “soviet-style” process by encouraging witnesses not to answer questions from Republicans that he considers to be unfair, while allowing Democrats unfettered access to the witnesses.

McConnell took a shot at House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff over this lack of transparency, arguing that the promise of a future opportunity to question witnesses and demand documents in a public setting does not change the “unfair process” currently unfolding in “any way whatsoever.”

House Democrats are providing the administration with “no due process now, maybe some later. But only if we feel like it is not a standard that should ever be applied to any American and it should not be applied here to the president of the United States,” the majority leader said.

Senator Lindsey Graham also excoriated the House resolution on Wednesday, saying the process Democrats have embraced is “substantially different than the way we’ve done it in the past.”

“The Intel committee is part of the process, which has never been done, and the president’s counsel is not allowed to participate in the Intel committee,” the South Carolina Republican said. “It’s still a behind-closed-doors, lack-of-due-process. And they’re trying to create something new that I think is just substandard and dangerous to the presidency.”

All Senate Republicans except have signed onto a resolution condemning the House’s impeachment process, with Senators Mitt Romney of Utah, Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska withholding their support.

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