Pavlich: The Senate defends its integrity

Pavlich: The Senate defends its integrity
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As President TrumpDonald John TrumpFauci says his meetings with Trump have 'dramatically decreased' McEnany criticizes DC mayor for not imposing earlier curfew amid protests Stopping Israel's annexation is a US national security interest MORE’s impeachment trial comes to a close, with an inevitable acquittal on the horizon, political opponents continue to claim the process was incomplete and unfair due to a lack of witnesses.

First, to say the Senate trial did not have witnesses is inaccurate and misleading. Seventeen people testified in the House impeachment inquiry, which was put into the Senate record upon the start of the trial. Video clips of testimony were repeatedly used by both sides, the White House and House impeachment managers, to make their arguments. Testimony from an 18th witness, intelligence community Inspector General Michael Atkinson, is still being held from the Senate by House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffFlynn urged Russian diplomat to have 'reciprocal' response to Obama sanctions, new transcripts show The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - George Floyd's death sparks protests, National Guard activation Hillicon Valley: Trump signs order targeting social media legal protections | House requests conference with Senate after FISA vote canceled | Minneapolis systems temporarily brought down by hackers MORE (D-Calif.).

Second, the issue throughout the Senate trial was not “witnesses” but rather new witnesses who did not testify in the House before articles of impeachment against Trump were transmitted to the Senate.

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During the Clinton impeachment trial, witnesses who testified in the Senate had done so before the House voted on and transmitted articles to the upper chamber. All three witnesses who testified in the Clinton trial, including Monica Lewinsky, had been previously interviewed.

That is not the case here.

In Trump’s Senate trial, Democrats, joined by Republican Sens. Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyCongress flying blind: Why now is the time to revive the Office of Technology Assessment Trump asserts his power over Republicans Montana barrels toward blockbuster Senate fight MORE (Utah) and Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsDemocrats gear up to hit GOP senators on DACA OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Trump administration gives renewables more time to take advantage of tax credits | House Republicans introduce bill to speed mining projects for critical minerals | Watchdog faults EPA communications in contamination of NC river The Hill's Coronavirus Report: Unemployment claims now at 41 million with 2.1 million more added to rolls; Topeka mayor says cities don't have enough tests for minorities and homeless communities MORE (Maine), demanded former national security adviser John BoltonJohn BoltonHave the courage to recognize Taiwan McConnell says Obama administration 'did leave behind' pandemic plan Trump company lawyer warned Michael Cohen not to write 'tell-all' book: report MORE be subpoenaed to testify. The issue wasn’t bringing witnesses to the Senate who had already testified during the House inquiry (Fiona Hill, former Ambassador Marie YovanovitchMarie YovanovitchJim Jordan requests documents from Pompeo regarding Hunter Biden, Burisma  Trump taps new ambassador to Ukraine America's diplomats deserve our respect MORE, etc.), but instead was about calling new individuals.

This is not the Senate’s job and would have broken the Clinton precedent. Democratic senators still in office today voted against new witnesses and subpoenas in the Clinton case. This includes Sens. Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerJudd Gregg: Biden — a path to the presidency, or not Montana barrels toward blockbuster Senate fight Federal judges should be allowed to be Federalist Society members MORE (N.Y.), Dick DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinFrustration builds in key committee ahead of Graham subpoena vote  Senate Democrat introduces bill to protect food supply Democratic unity starts to crack in coronavirus liability reform fight MORE (Ill.), Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinGraham announces hearing on police use of force after George Floyd killing Frustration builds in key committee ahead of Graham subpoena vote  The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Major space launch today; Trump feuds with Twitter MORE (Calif.), Patty MurrayPatricia (Patty) Lynn MurrayCOVID-19 workplace complaints surge; unions rip administration Lack of child care poses major hurdle as businesses reopen Democratic leaders say Trump testing strategy is 'to deny the truth' about lack of supplies MORE (Wash.), Jack ReedJohn (Jack) Francis ReedBipartisan Senate panel leaders back fund to deter China The Hill's Coronavirus Report: National Portrait Gallery's Kim Sajet says this era rewiring people's relationship with culture, art; Trump's war with Twitter heats up Overnight Defense: Trump to withdraw US from Open Skies Treaty | Pentagon drops ban on recruits who had virus | FBI says Corpus Christi shooting terror-related MORE (R.I.), Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenOn The Money: Senate Dems pump brakes on new stimulus checks | Trump officials sued over tax refunds | Fed to soon open small-business lending program Senate Democrats pump brakes on new stimulus checks Voting rights, public health officials roll out guidelines to protect voters from COVID-19 MORE (Ore.) and Patrick LeahyPatrick Joseph LeahyHouse punts on FISA, votes to begin negotiations with Senate House cancels planned Thursday vote on FISA Frustration builds in key committee ahead of Graham subpoena vote  MORE (Vt.).

Attorneys for the White House effectively explained why new witnesses, not witnesses already in the record, would destroy the integrity of the Senate.

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“Onto the point of whether this chamber should hear from Ambassador Bolton and I think it’s important to consider what that means because it’s not just a question of, ‘Well, should we hear from one witness.’ That’s not what the real question is going to be,” White House attorney Patrick Philbin argued. “For this institution, the real question is, ‘What is the precedent that is going to be set for what is an acceptable way for the House of Representatives to bring impeachment of a president of the United States to this chamber and can it be done in a hurried, half-baked, partisan fashion … they didn’t even subpoena John Bolton below.

“They didn’t even try to get his testimony to insist now that this body will become the investigative body, that this body will have to do all of the discovery and that this institution will be effectively paralyzed for months on end because it has to sit as a court of impeachment while now discovery is done.”

“This would drag on for months and then that’s the new precedent. Then that’s the way all impeachments operate in the future. The House doesn’t have to do the work. They do it quick, they throw it over the transom and this institution gets derailed and has to deal with it,” he continued. “And that should not be the way — that should not be the precedent that is set here for the way this body will have to handle all impeachments in the future because if it becomes that easy for the House to do it they’ll be doing it a lot.”

But it wasn’t just White House attorneys making this point about discovery. Democrat Sen. Mazie HironoMazie Keiko HironoFederal judges should be allowed to be Federalist Society members Senate Dems press DOJ over coronavirus safety precautions in juvenile detention centers Conservative group launches campaign accusing Democrats of hypocrisy on Kavanuagh, Biden MORE (Hawaii) did as well and expressed frustration about the lack of discovery before the trial started.

“If we were following the Clinton precedent, there would have been all of this discovery done at the House level, and that’s not what’s happening at all,” she told CNN.

Republican Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Trump tweets as tensions escalate across US This week: Senate reconvenes as protests roil nation amid pandemic Trump asserts his power over Republicans MORE (S.C.) strongly refuted the accusation witnesses who were not previously compelled to testify were being “blocked.”

“Of all the insane things being said about this impeachment debacle - and there is a lot to choose from - one of the most ridiculous is to say Senate Republicans are ‘Blocking Witnesses.’ This is an outrageous claim,” Graham tweeted. “FACT: It was the House of Representatives who refused to pursue the testimony of the witnesses because they wanted to impeach the President before Christmas. Only in Washington would someone call that decision ‘Blocking Witnesses.’ In most of America it’s called: #YourOwnFault.”

The final arguments in Trump’s impeachment trial are over. White House attorneys have effectively and rightfully convinced senators that they must preserve the integrity of their institution. By rejecting new witnesses, Republican senators are holding House Democrats accountable for submitting a sloppy, rushed and weak impeachment case for trial.

Pavlich is the editor for Townhall.com and a Fox News contributor.