Every impeachment trial that has gone to verdict in the U.S. Senate’s 231 year history has included witnesses testifying. In addition to President Trump, only 19 individuals have been impeached by the House of Representatives. Fifteen of those cases resulted in completed trials in the U.S. Senate, and U.S. Senators heard testimony from witnesses in each of those cases.
“Throughout its history, the Senate has acted impartially and upheld its duties to seek the whole truth when cases come to it for trial under the impeachment process mandated by the constitution,” said CREW Executive Director Noah Bookbinder. “The Senate must continue this tradition, which means bringing in witnesses who can shed additional light on the serious charges against the President, as has happened in every previous trial completed by the Senate.”
“The American people deserve to know the extent of President Trump’s efforts to obstruct a free and fair presidential election in 2020. Access to the relevant witnesses and documents will allow the Senate and voters to better understand the conduct for which the President was impeached, and will enable Senators to ‘do impartial justice according to the Constitution and laws,’ as the oath they take during impeachment trials requires,” said Erica Newland, Counsel at Protect Democracy.
U.S. Senators heard witness testimony in each of the 15 impeachment cases tried in the U.S. Senate before reaching a verdict. Witness testimony was not needed for the four remaining individuals who were impeached, as each resigned or was expelled from their position prior to the start or completion of a U.S. Senate trial.
The Chief Justice and all members of the U.S. Senate have a critical and solemn role to play in the impeachment trial of President Trump. Impeachment proceedings must be allowed to proceed fairly and impartially to fully investigate whether the president committed high crimes and misdemeanors, and whether those impeachable acts require the removal of the president. The Chief Justice and Senators must look to precedents to ensure a full and fair trial, including appropriate witness testimony, the letter said.
“Denying the Senate and the American people the opportunity to hear from witnesses who can present relevant and useful evidence would undermine the principles set forth in the Constitution and prevent Americans and Senators from fairly assessing allegations of serious abuses by the president,” said Bookbinder.