Democrats’ hypocrisy has been exposed once again.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has taken heat from Democrats in recent weeks after he announced that he would be “coordinating” with the White House on all things impeachment — but according to a new report from Fox News, McConnell’s approach isn’t all that different from how Democrats handled former President Bill Clinton’s impeachment trial in the late 1990s.
McConnell catches heat
Indeed, numerous Democrats in both the House and Senate — most notably, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) — have cried foul over McConnell’s comments from an interview with Fox’s Sean Hannity earlier this month. “Everything I do during this, I will be coordinating with White House counsel,” the majority leader said at the time, according to Fox.
Schumer responded by saying such coordination would be “totally out of line,” according to The Hill.
But by working with the White House on President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial, McConnell would merely be following the precedent set by Senate Democrats in 1999 — at least, that’s according to a 2012 book titled The Breach: Inside the Impeachment and Trial of William Jefferson Clinton, written by now-New York Times reporter Peter Baker, who at the time worked for The Washington Post.
Setting the precedent
Cited in a Friday report from Fox News, Baker’s book explains that in the late ’90s, Senate Democrats, under then-Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-SD), quietly made arrangements with the Clinton White House on numerous occasions.
Case in point: in that trial, the rules didn’t allow for the White House counsel to directly challenge the Republican House managers, so a “secret signal” was developed in order for White House counsel to prompt certain “default senators” on the Democrat side to submit specific questions for the White House to respond to, a sort of workaround, Fox noted.
There was also reportedly a pressure campaign launched by then-Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) against Sen. Susan Collins, a Republican still representing Maine in the Senate today, who had suggested that the body vote not for convicting but on a “findings of fact” on the charges of perjury and obstruction, which would require only a simple majority to pass instead of the two-thirds necessary for the president’s removal.
Knowing how bad that would look for Clinton — even as he would still have survived the impeachment — the then-president’s people convinced Harkin to pressure Collins, and the measure was successfully killed, according to Baker.
On top of all of that, Democrat lawyers also worked closely with White House counsel to develop a strategy to undermine House Republicans’ arguments in favor of Clinton’s impeachment, according to Fox. Baker revealed in his book that Dems ultimately decided to focus efforts on setting up the White House with “softball questions” that would allow its team to “score rhetorical points” rather than directly challenging the GOP.
Falling in line
Of course, Democrats today would prefer that everyone forget how they handled Clinton’s impeachment trial, and want to hold McConnell to a different standard during the impending trial of President Donald Trump.
But McConnell coordinating with the Trump White House would not be “out of line” or unprecedented — at least, not according to Baker. It’s finally time for Dems to suffer the consequences of their own behaviors.