FLASHBACK: Chuck Schumers 1999 Letter About Bill Clinton’s Senate Trial Resurfaces On Eve Of Trump’s Impeachment
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The internet is forever — and Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), who has been demanding concessions like witness testimony from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (D-KY) ahead of President Donald Trump’s Senate impeachment trial, may prefer it had somehow missed cataloging his 1999 letter, issued just a day before then-President Bill Clinton’s impeachment trial was set to begin, “outlining why the process had taken an unfair toll on the nation.”
The New York Post recovered the letter and published it in full Sunday, adding that the letter had come back to “bite” the Senate’s top Democrat.
“It has shaken me that we stand at the brink of removing a President — not because of a popular groundswell to remove him and not because of the magnitude of the wrongs he’s committed — but because conditions in late 20th century America has made it possible for a small group of people who hate Bill Clinton and hate his policies to very cleverly and very doggedly exploit the institutions of freedom that we hold dear and almost succeed in undoing him,” Schumer lamented, calling Republicans Trent Lott and Tom Daschle responsible, ultimately, for instigating a “bitter” and “acrimonious” impeachment inquiry.
“If you had asked me one year ago if people like this with such obvious political motives could use our courts, play the media and tantalize the legislative branch to achieve their ends of bringing down the President, I would have said ‘not a chance — that doesn’t happen in America,’” Schumer goes on, blissfully unaware of a future in which House Democrats would launch dozens of investigations into the office of the White House, largely motivated by blatant partisanship, ending in an impeachment based on evidence that barely begins to justify the interest.
He ends by imploring Republicans to have “sympathy” for Bill Clinton: “What Bill Clinton did was wrong and arrogant — we all agree. We are all angered,” Schumer says. “But let’s express some sympathy.”
“‘Let him without sin cast the first stone’ is no more a cliche today than it was almost 2,000 years ago,” Schumer pleads. “Put yourself, put any of us in Bill Clinton’s position — where your enemy is trying to expose your most embarrassing private flaw. Where they find a way to use the most public venue to humiliate you. Where they put you in front of a civil court of law in what seems to you to be a bogus, politically motivated case that should have never seen the light of day.”
Schumer then goes on to bemoan the state of American politics, predicting, with surprising accuracy, how Democrats would ultimately respond to Clinton’s impeachment, years later.
“It seems we have lost the ability to forcefully advocate for our position without trying to criminalize or at least dishonor our adversaries — often over matters having nothing to do with the public trust. And it is hurting the country; it is marginalizing and polarizing the Congress,” Schumer says. “[I]f the cycle of political recrimination and scandalizing continues, the American people will become more alienated and cynical and shaken by the political process and they, too, will lose faith in the great instrument the Founding Fathers have given us.”
Schumer, at the time, even promised that he would only be a successful Senate Majority Leader if Clinton was ultimately acquitted (he, of course, was).
Schumer is taking the opposite tack this week, kicking off the Senate’s impeachment efforts by appearing across the networks, calling on McConnell to bend to Democrats’ wishes and force witness testimony or recuse himself.