Joe Biden has a knack for having his past words come back to haunt him. In 1992, Biden argued for delaying Supreme Court nominations during an election year, only to have those words blow up in his and Barack Obama’s faces when Mitch McConnell used “The Biden Rule” to delay the nomination of Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court until after the election.
And it looks like Joe Biden has managed the same feat once again. Politico obtained a January 1999 memo written by then-Senator Joe Biden that “argued strongly against the need to depose additional witnesses or seek new evidence in a memo sent to fellow Democrats ahead of President Bill Clinton’s impeachment trial.”
The four-page document, titled, “Arguments in Support of a Summary Impeachment Trial,” was circulated on January 5, 1999, and Biden “cited historical precedents from impeachment cases going back to the establishment of the Senate,” and reached the conclusion that the Senate “need not hold a ‘full blown’ trial.”
“The Senate may dismiss articles of impeachment without holding a full trial or taking new evidence. Put another way, the Constitution does not impose on the Senate the duty to hold a trial,” Biden wrote in the memo. “In a number of previous impeachment trials, the Senate has reached the judgment that its constitutional role as a sole trier of impeachments does not require it to take new evidence or hear live witness testimony,” he added later.
Boy, that sounds a lot like what Republicans are saying today, doesn’t it?
There couldn’t be more distance between the talking points of Democrats today and Joe Biden’s 1999 memo. It’s worth mentioning here that Biden is technically still the frontrunner for the Democratic nomination, which makes the exposure of this memo particularly awkward for Democrats arguing for more witnesses after their rushed House impeachment inquiry and vote.
Biden’s memo also argued against drawing out the impeachment trial.
“In light of the extensive record already compiled, it may be that the benefit of receiving additional evidence or live testimony is not great enough to outweigh the public costs (in terms of national prestige, faith in public institutions, etc.) of such a proceeding,” the memo reads. “While a judge may not take such considerations into account, the Senate is uniquely competent to make such a balance.”
I couldn’t have said it better!
The Biden campaign predictably declined to comment on the release of the 1999 Biden memo.
Matt Margolis is the author of Trumping Obama: How President Trump Saved Us From Barack Obama’s Legacy and the bestselling book The Worst President in History: The Legacy of Barack Obama. You can follow Matt on Twitter @MattMargolis