Impeachment hearings compared to medieval system of justice

by WorldTribune Staff, October 24, 2019

Rep. Adam Schiff and his Democrat cohorts who are pushing the behind-closed-doors impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump are running a “star chamber,” critics say.

“Star Chamber was a medieval judicial system that was conducted outside the bounds of common law without a jury present,” The Washington Examiner noted. “While Star Chamber offered an expeditious legal hearing by skipping over the common law courts, it was often misused because the court was autonomous and the hearings were often conducted in private.”

Rep. Adam Schiff is running an impeachment ‘star chamber,’ critics say.

In the secretive hearings being run by Schiff, Republicans say they have been locked out and are not allowed to call witnesses. Additionally, those in the hearings are not allowed to speak publicly about them. The only news coming from them, critics say, is “cherry-picked” by Schiff.

The White House also is not allowed to call witnesses or cross-examine witnesses called by Schiff and his squad.

Radio host Hugh Hewitt cited the Oct. 22 closed-door testimony of Ambassador Bill Taylor. Hewitt noted that Taylor’s testimony was private and any information from his closed-door session was leaked without the context of the whole hearing.

Responding to a tweet on Taylor’s testimony in which media personality Ron Fournier said “GOP can’t process the facts,” Hewitt tweeted: “Taylor’s testimony is unknown to me, and to you @ron_fournier. Leaked accounts are disputed. Neither you nor I know what he testified. This is why Star Chamber has such a bad reputation and why we don’t do trials in secret. Don’t abandon first principles to get @realDonaldTrump.”

In an Oct. 24 interview on SiriusXM’s Breitbart News Daily with host Alex Marlow, House Minority Whip Rep. Steve Scalise said Schiff’s handling of the impeachment inquiry is keeping “75 percent of the entire Congress” in the dark:

ALEX MARLOW: [House Republicans] went full Breitbart yesterday storming [House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff’s (D-CA)] secret chamber. We’ve been calling it “Schiff’s dungeon.” This is still a very serious thing. I really admire the new tactic. What compelled you guys in the Congress to decide that enough’s enough, we’re actually going to physically take matters into our own hands?

HOUSE MINORITY WHIP REP. STEVE SCALISE: Well, that was it. We’ve had enough of Adam Schiff running this Soviet-style star chamber, because only in the Soviet Union would you have a process where they are trying to impeach a duly elected president in secret, behind closed doors. You can’t go in, the press can’t go in, and voting members of Congress can’t go in. About 75 percent of the entire Congress, who was duly elected, is not allowed in that room. Yet, [Schiff’s] trying to use whatever he’s producing in there to bee the basis to impeach a President of the United States. It’s never been done before and we shouldn’t stand for it. We wanted to go in and see what was happening. We didn’t try to go in to disrupt things, we wanted to actually just go look.

MARLOW: I love the comparison to the Soviets, because that is what this is like, and [Demcrats] are the ones constantly accusing us of being Russians pawns, even though we’ve been so tough on Russia. Overall, this president has been tough on Russia. We’re tough on Russia at Breitbart and they want to act like we’re Russian stooges. They are taking the Soviet tactics, so it’s a great way to describe it. Why are they hiding from the people?

HOUSE MINORITY WHIP REP. SCALISE: That’s a great question, and they haven’t answered it, by the way. It was amazing how, when we walked into the room, I found a chair and sat down in the back of the room. I had never seen how they set up a meeting before, but they are all just sitting around a table and at the end of the table is Adam Schiff and a witness. Adam starts talking to his lawyers, I’m sure he’s trying to figure out how to get us out of the room, and we’re just sitting there watching. Again, we were just watching him. He literally gets the witness and runs out of the room, which is very telling. What do they have to hide?

He himself at the beginning of the meeting said it was not a classified briefing. The whole purpose of that room, called it the SCIF, is you have classified briefs in a classified setting. This wasn’t a classified briefing, this was with a DOD official. We had members of the Armed Services committee in that room, who had come into the room, and they wanted to hear what was going on with this DOD official, and they weren’t even allowed into the room. When Adam took the witness and rushed out of the room, it said a lot. It said clearly they’re hiding something. They are trying to create a document that’ll ultimately be a tainted document. This is going to be important because what they are doing is producing a document to be the basis of impeaching the president and it’s done in secret. It’s done where only they call the witnesses.

Only Adam Schiff calls the witnesses. We have witnesses on our side that we would like to call. Devin Nunes, Jim Jordan, Mike McCaul have a list of witnesses. They are not allowed to bring witnesses forward. When Adam Schiff produces this document, it will be based on people he wanted to bring in and, in many cases, like the whistleblower, people who had a political bias against President Trump. Can you imagine that? If you don’t like the results of the 2016 election, you can go in secret and whisper something to Adam Schiff, he’ll whisper it to the media, they’ll write bad stories, and be completely debunked by the White House days later. But at that point, it’s too late, the damage is done.

MARLOW: Sure. We all know now in the court of public opinion is so much more powerful right now then legal courts at this point. This is all designed to move people’s minds, and we’re coming in on an election year. It’s also clearly political from start to finish. Let’s talk about the fact that you noted this is unprecedented. Put some meat behind that for me, because this is one where people are curious. Were past impeachment inquiries — there were three inquiries and two impeachments in the past, because Nixon resigned quickly. Why is this different from anything we’ve ever seen in the country before?

HOUSE MINORITY WHIP REP. SCALISE: This isn’t something that happens all the time, as you noted. Only three times in the history of our country has this power that the Constitution gives the power to impeach and remove a President of the United States. Andrew Johnson, we didn’t have TV cameras back then, but there was a vote of the House, the full House before they started an impeachment inquiry against the inquiry, then the exact thing happened when they moved to impeach Richard Nixon, where the House had a full vote to start the process. In fact, then they set up formal rules, where both sides could call witnesses. Not the majority, not just the Democrats, but both sides.

The president could have legal counsel in the room to question the witnesses that were trying to take the president down. That was the Nixon standard. When they had the Clinton impeachment, reverse the parties, Republican president and House Democrat Majority, they used the Nixon standard, which was both sides can call witnesses. The White House can have a lawyer in the room to question witnesses. That didn’t happen, no vote in the house. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) just decreed an impeachment inquiry and gave the power to Adam Schiff. It was always the [House] Judiciary Committee that ran things, but now Adam Schiff is running things behind closed doors. That was never done before. There were TV cameras in the room for Nixon, by the way. For young viewers, you can watch the Nixon videos. People watch them. You also watched the Clinton proceedings. [Schiff’s] not allowing anybody to watch. 75 percent of the voting Congress is not allowed in that room to see what’s going on.

MARLOW: You ran point on the storming of the SCIF, Schiff’s bunker, with Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL). Give me what’s coming next and what details we need to know. This seems like a really emphatic effort against this secret impeachment.

HOUSE MINORITY WHIP REP. SCALISE: Our members are really angry about this and want to highlight what’s going on. They want to stop this Soviet-style process. If they are going to impeach the president, do it in clear view. Everybody ought to be held accountable. Don’t hide behind one guy, Adam Schiff, and all these other members who want to have a justification for impeaching the president because they don’t like results of the 2016 election, are going to fall back on that in secret. We’re all elected members of Congress.

We get held accountable every two years for what we do. The things we do are done in public, not in secret. That’s got to stop, and we need to continue to highlight it. People back home know, too. One of the good things yesterday is that the press actually paid attention for the first time to how bad a hijacked Soviet-style process this is. The more people that find out what’s going on in Washington right now, people are shocked when they hear this. But more people need to hear this, so we need to keep making sure we highlight what’s going on in Washington to people back home who are wondering, and in many cases, don’t even realize this is how [Schiff] is trying to impeach a President of the United States.

MARLOW: Give me your first three things you would do if this was a fair process.

HOUSE MINORITY WHIP REP. SCALISE: Both sides get to call witnesses. And the White House, the people you are accusing of a crime, which they never laid out any evidence of, give the person you’re accusing the opportunity to have legal counsel in the room, so in many cases, they can dispute or rebut what’s being claimed by somebody with a political bias against that president. That’s fairness. The American people believe in fairness and that’s what our system of government is about. We’re not a Soviet-style system, where the government could come in and literally take you out if they don’t like you.

The U.S. Supreme Court has said “the Star Chamber has, for centuries, symbolized disregard of basic individual rights.”

Per Wikipedia:

The power of the Court of Star Chamber grew considerably under the House of Stuart, and by the time of King Charles I, it had become synonymous with misuse and abuse of power by the King and his circle. King James I and his son Charles used the court to examine cases of sedition, which meant that the court could be used to suppress opposition to royal policies.

It came to be used to try nobles too powerful to be brought to trial in the lower court.

King Charles I used the Court of Star Chamber as Parliamentary substitute during the eleven years of Personal Rule, when he ruled without a Parliament. King Charles made extensive use of the Court of Star Chamber to prosecute dissenters, including the Puritans who fled to New England. This was also one of the causes of the English Civil War.

On 17 October 1632, the Court of Star Chamber banned all “news books” because of complaints from Spanish and Austrian diplomats that coverage of the Thirty Years’ War in England was unfair. As a result, newsbooks pertaining to this matter were often printed in Amsterdam and then smuggled into the country, until control of the press collapsed with the developing ideological conflict of 1640–41.

The Star Chamber became notorious for judgments favourable to the king. Archbishop Laud had William Prynne branded on both cheeks through its agency in 1637 for seditious libel.
The Star Chamber (Latin: Camera stellata) was an English court which sat at the royal Palace of Westminster, from the late 15th century to the mid-17th century (c. 1641), and was composed of Privy Counsellors and common-law judges, to supplement the judicial activities of the common-law and equity courts in civil and criminal matters. The Star Chamber was originally established to ensure the fair enforcement of laws against socially and politically prominent people so powerful that ordinary courts would probably hesitate to convict them of their crimes. However, it became synonymous with social and political oppression through the arbitrary use and abuse of the power it wielded.

In modern usage, legal or administrative bodies with strict, arbitrary rulings and secretive proceedings are sometimes called, metaphorically or poetically, “star chambers”. This is a pejorative term and intended to cast doubt on the legitimacy of the proceedings.

In an op-ed for Mesquite (Nevada) Local News, Mike Young wrote:

Last week I heard the term, “Star Chamber” and it sparked some memory of a move from long ago. So, I looked it up and found this description, “a former court of inquisition and criminal jurisdiction in England that sat without a jury and that became noted for its arbitrary methods and severe punishments, abolished 1641.” But what did have to do with the impeachment hearing today in the House of Representatives?

It seems that the Star Chamber meetings were held in secret and the accused had no representative to question the accusers. Since all the meetings were held behind closed doors, no one knew what the charges were or the evidence that supported those charges. In most cases the sentence was death without appeal. This all is very surprising because our court system today lets the defendant confront witnesses, have legal counsel and bring on opposing witnesses.

Except the House hearing on impeachment which sounds just like the Star Chamber, how can that be? Our laws, are the law of the land yet, the Star Chamber is working in secret in our capital. The whole affair against Trump is clearly an attempt to nullify the 2016 election and the will of the people. That has been clear since the day Trump was inaugurated with some Democrats calling for his removal from office even before he moved into the White House.

This fixation with impeachment is destroying the fabric of our country by only focusing on the democrat’s obsession for Trump removal from office at any cost, but not on helping the American people. Trump has done so much with total opposition from democrats. They choose to try and throw out an election result instead of working with a duly elected president. Some may say he was not duly elected but that is some kind of fantasy world. He won the electoral college which we have used since our country’s existence. The claims of interference have been debunked by investigation after investigation.

Who do these people think they are? Superior beings that know what is best for our country regardless of what the people want. How could the people ever choose someone like Donald Trump over one of theirs? These people who elected him live in fly over country, and just do not understand what is best for them. We have a plan to get them out of the arena. We will take over the voting and make president by popular vote. That way the big cities can just elect who they want and since we control all the big cities guess who wins? Is that our future???

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