The Senate has heard testimony from witnesses at every trial it has completed in its 231-year history. If the current Senate takes seriously its constitutional responsibility to conduct an impeachment trial of Trump and the oath its members will take to “do impartial justice,” then it must not depart from this unambiguous body of precedent. It must hear from witnesses to the president’s misconduct.
Only 19 other individuals besides Trump have been impeached by the House of Representatives. The Senate completed a trial in 15 of those cases, and in every single one of them, it heard testimony from witnesses. Those cases include the only two prior instances in which a president was impeached. At the impeachment trial of 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. At
The Senate has obtained testimony from a large number of witnesses in every impeachment trial conducted in the last 50 years: 21 in the 1986 trial of Judge Harry Claiborne; 55 in the 1989 trial of Judge Alcee L. Hastings; 10 in the 1989 trial of Judge Walter Nixon, and 26 in the 2010 trial of Judge Thomas Porteous. Although at least one senator has suggested that the Senate has no duty to go beyond testimony obtained by the House, that has happened on multiple occasions. The Senate heard from seven witnesses at Walter Nixon’s trial who had not testified before the House; three at Clinton’s trial who also had not testified before the House; and 17 at Porteous’s trial who had not testified before the House.
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