Ratcliffe Outlines Expected Role in Impeachment Trial

“A LACK OF DUE PROCESS”

by Sharon Rondeau

(Jan. 21, 2020) — On Tuesday’s “America’s Newsroom” during the 9:00 a.m. hour, newly-named White House “impeachment team” member Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-TX4) told host Sandra Smith that he does not favor the calling of witnesses in the Senate trial, which begins Tuesday at 1:00 p.m. EST.

Ratcliffe is a former federal prosecutor and member of both the House Judiciary and Intelligence Committees. He predicted that the Senate will not hear from potential witnesses, which has been a subject of debate since the House passed two Articles of Impeachment against President Trump on December 18.

“There isn’t a witness that can be called that can fix this process,” Ratcliffe said by means of explanation for his stance. “There isn’t a witness on either side that you can call that can inject fairness and due process into a process that had none.”

The White House claims that President Donald Trump’s impeachment last month represents “an affront to the Constitution and to our democratic institutions. The Articles themselves—and the rigged process that brought them here—are a brazenly political act by House Democrats that must be rejected. They debase the grave power of impeachment and disdain the solemn responsibility that power entails.”

Democrats, conversely, claim that Trump “abused his power” during a July 25, 2019 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy in which Trump asked Zelenskiy to “do us a favor” and investigate whether or not former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter engaged in misconduct while the former served as Obama’s Ukraine liaison between 2014 and 2016.

Democrats also claim Trump “obstructed Congress” by failing to provide requested documents and permitting current and former White House aides to testify in the House’s proceedings.

During remarks beginning at approximately 10:30 a.m., Democrat House impeachment manager Adam Schiff, who served as the main “prosecutor” during the House’s hearings between late September and mid-December, said he “thinks it’s crazy” that Trump attempted to influence Zelenskiy in order to help his 2020 re-election campaign.

Ratcliffe told Smith that as a White House adviser, he will assist in the preparation of “legal briefs” and “oral arguments that will be presented later this week,” adding, “I was one of a few members that was involved in both phases of the impeachment inquiry before the House Intelligence Committee and the House Judiciary Committee; there’s a lot of information there, so I’m going to continue to be as much of a resource for the president’s lawyers as I can be over this trial.”

Smith asked Ratcliffe whether or not he is expected to speak on the Senate floor during the trial, to which he responded that it is “currently the plan not to” but “you never know what’s going to happen during a trial.”  Ratcliffe said that he and the seven other House advisers named on Monday intend to “hold some of the House managers accountable, particularly the lead House Manager, Adam Schiff, and make sure that the evidence is presented the way it occurred in the House.  If that doesn’t happen, there may be a change in the trial structure.”

As Smith argued, Democrats claim that information brought forward after the two Articles of Impeachment were approved should be fully probed during the Senate trial.

While Democrats have the majority in the House, Republicans have a slight majority in the Senate.

Ratcliffe said he believes the difference between the impeachment proceedings for Presidents Nixon and Clinton and those for Trump will be highlighted after the trial begins.  “His lawyers were forbidden, forbidden from participating for the first 71 of a 78-day process,” Ratcliffe said of Trump.  “Not allowed to call witnesses, cross-examine witnesses, be there for the presentation or review of evidence.  That’s a lack of due process and fairness that I think all senators, Republican and Democrat, are going to be surprised to learn, and I think as a result of that, they’re not going to want to hear any witnesses because the Senate isn’t going to be able to fix what happened in the House.”

On Monday evening, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell released the rules of the trial, which Democrats have already said they wish to amend.

Ratcliffe told Smith that he agrees with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, who decried McConnell’s rules Monday night, that “there can’t be a fair trial and that there was a cover-up, but not for the reasons that he thinks.”  He then said that the “cover-up” evidence is contained in the transcript of the deposition of Intelligence Community Inspector General Michael Atkinson, the sole transcript of 18 which Schiff, as House Intelligence Committee chairman, has not released.  “So there is a cover-up there, and that is what prevents a fair trial here,” Ratcliffe said, “is the person in charge of this investigation was judge, jury, prosecutor.  These are Adam Schiff’s facts, and you can’t wave a magic wand and inject fairness into a process that a conflicted witness, controlled from beginning to end.  [sic] I think every senator, Republican and Democrat, is going to come to that realization, and then I think early on, there’s going to be a motion to acquit President Trump and that’s going to be supported on a bipartisan basis.”

 

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