On Feb. 11, 1999 — one day before President Bill Clinton was acquitted in his impeachment trial before the Senate — Sen. Charles Schumer penned a passionate letter, outlining why the process had taken an unfair toll on the nation. He noted that the president believed he had not crossed a line, and praised the large threshold needed to get a conviction in the Senate. He also cheered the American people for opposing impeachment.
A Gallup poll in December 1998 found that 35 percent of Americans were pro-impeachment, with 73 percent of Republicans and only 12 percent of Democrats in favor. Meanwhile, a Quinnipiac poll this month found that 51 percent of Americans approve of President Donald Trump’s impeachment, with 46 percent disapproving, but the partisan divide is even starker with just 7 percent of Republicans and a whopping 91 percent of Democrats in favor. Though the individual details are different, many of the same points crafted by Schumer more than 20 years ago echo Republican arguments against the impeachment of President Trump. Here is Sen. Schumer’s original letter in full, with some of the more prescient sections bolded by The Post . . .
Statement for the Record of Senator Charles E. Schumer
The Trial of the President
February 11, 1999
Mr. President, this is a day of solemnity and awe. I rise humbled that we are participating in a process that was mapped out more than 200 years ago by the Founding Fathers and that the words we say today will be looked upon by historians and future Congresses for guidance. That is quite a responsibility.
I began this process in the House where it degenerated quickly into bitter acrimony. I would like to say to Majority Leader [Trent] Lott and Minority Leader [Tom] Daschle, and to my new colleagues who have wrestled with this case, that I deeply appreciate your fairness and patience and the way this has been handled with such dignity in the Senate.
Growing up, our country and its government seemed like a mighty oak — strong, rooted, permanent, and grand.
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.
Most troubling to me are the conditions that allowed this to happen, than the small group who precipitated them.
The small group is not the House Managers or particular officeholders of the Republican party.
It is the small group of lawyers and zealots who decided that they would invest time and money to exploit a personal weakness that people knew the President had, find a case to air it publicly, investigate the President’s private life to the point of obsession, and use it to bring him down.