The U.S. impeachment process is long, procedural, and, in many cases, pretty boring. After launching an inquiry weeks ago, the House Intelligence Committee is questioning a parade of high-ranking government officials and other witnesses in an attempt to determine if President Donald Trump threatened to withhold aid to Ukraine in a politically motivated quid pro quo. To date, lawmakers have conducted 20 hours of public testimony and 120 hours of closed-door testimony from 24 witnesses.
Somehow that’s not good enough for Florida’s freshman U.S. senator (and former governor), Rick Scott. In an interview with Fox Business last night, Scott claimed the impeachment process lacked due process and drew comparisons to “communist China or Venezuela.”
“[House Intelligence Committee Chairman] Adam Schiff hasn’t been transparent. He won’t let the Republicans call witnesses. I mean, this is America,” Scott said during the TV appearance. “Don’t we need to have due process? You get to talk to your accuser, call your own witness, ask people questions.
“But not in Adam Schiff’s America,” he continued. “It’s like he acts like he’s in communist China or Venezuela or someplace like that.”
The senator went as far as to say Trump — who the Washington Post says has lied more than 13,000 times since taking office — is “the only person in this who’s been transparent.”
Since the beginning of the inquiry, Republicans such as Scott have repeatedly argued that the impeachment proceedings lack due process — an entirely bad-faith claim that has no legal basis. As PolitiFact has explained in detail, the House’s role is to investigate whether Trump committed an impeachable offense. If a majority concludes he has, the Senate will hold a trial.
A person’s constitutional right to due process kicks in when their “life, liberty, or property” is in jeopardy — not when their job in on the line.
“As a matter of law, a president has essentially no claim to any kind of participation in the impeachment process,” Frank Bowman, a University of Missouri law professor and author of High Crimes and Misdemeanors: A History of Impeachment for the Age of Trump, told FiveThirtyEight earlier this month.
To further illustrate that Scott’s statements are misguided: Elections in China and Venezuela are pretty much elections in name only. In China, the National People’s Congress has paved the way for the country’s leader, Xi Jinping, to remain in office for life. Venezuela, meanwhile, is in the throes of an ongoing power struggle that has left its citizens in crisis. So, no, the Trump impeachment proceedings are not like communist China or Venezuela. Any suggestion otherwise is empty rhetoric.