GOP senators vote to subpoena Obama officials after opposing 'partisan' impeachment

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The Senate Judiciary Committee voted along party lines to subpoena members of the previous administration involved in opening the Russia investigation.

Twelve Senate Republicans who decried the partisanship of the impeachment proceedings against Donald Trump voted along party lines Thursday to subpoena Obama administration officials.

The Senate Judiciary Committee voted 12 to 10 to let Chairman Lindsey Graham issue subpoenas to officials who were involved in the decision to open an investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election in support of Donald Trump.

"I assure you, we're not going to be deterred," Graham told his colleagues. "If we have to do it by ourselves, we'll do it by ourselves. ... I want to know why all these counterintelligence investigations were opened to begin with."

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Graham and every one of the committee's other Republican members opposed the impeachment of Trump, suggesting it was illegitimate because the House vote for the articles of impeachment was "partisan."

Here is what they argued a few months ago:

Lindsey Graham: "If you think you've done the country a good service by legitimizing this impeachment process, what you have done is unleashed the partisan forces of hell. This is sour grapes," Graham said in February. "It's driven by blind partisanship and hatred of the man himself, and they wanted to do it in 78 days."

Chuck Grassley: "Today marks the first partisan impeachment of the President of the United States in modern history," Grassley wrote in December. "The only bipartisanship the American people witnessed today stood opposed to impeachment. The Framers of the Constitution did not want impeachment to be a partisan process.

John Cornyn: "If the House can undertake a partisan, sort of half-baked, impeachment inquiry, vote on articles of impeachment, and dump it into the Senate's lap, where these questions on executive privilege would have to be litigated through the courts with delays of weeks, if not months, that that would set a bad precedent and basically allow the House to take over the Senate agenda where we can't do anything else," Cornyn told Fox News in January. "So I'm pretty optimistic that senators understand that this is a product of a partisan, half-baked, unprepared impeachment inquiry that we should not let become the new normal."

Mike Lee: "Yesterday was a sad day for our republic," Lee wrote in December. "A president of the United States was impeached along partisan lines for purely partisan political reasons."

Ted Cruz: "This was a partisan impeachment and we are right now in an election year," Cruz said in February. "The voters are voting and it is up to the voters to decide which policies they want to continue. The House Managers have abused the constitutional process by trying to use impeachment to settle a partisan score."

Ben Sasse: "The Senate's constitutional duty is not to launch an open-ended, months-long, partisan investigation, just nine months before Election Day," Sasse wrote in January. "The Senate's duty is to carefully consider the case presented."

Josh Hawley: "The House Democrats have given us the first purely partisan impeachment in our history," Hawley said in February. "We must leave this impeachment circus behind us and ensure that our Constitution is never again abused in this way."

Thom Tillis: "House Democrats ran this blatantly partisan impeachment process like a kangaroo court, presuming the President was guilty and shamefully denying the President and the minority basic due process rights," Tillis wrote in December. "In spite of the lack of evidence they gathered and the facts not being on their side, they still voted to impeach the President to pander to their fringe base."

Joni Ernst: "This process was fraught from the start with political aims and partisan innuendos that simply cannot be overlooked," Ernst said in February, adding: "As we sit here today, we believe we are experiencing a unique and historical event. However, if the case presented by the House of Representatives is allowed to be the basis for the removal of this president, I'm afraid that impeachment will become just another tool used by those who play partisan politics."

Mike Crapo: Crapo criticized the "highly partisan impeachment in the House of Representatives" in February, writing, "The Founders of our nation were clear that impeachment and removal of the President of the United States both from office and from the ballot in future elections must face very high hurdles. They specifically wanted to protect impeachment from being used as a partisan tool."

John Kennedy: "The vote today was nothing more than a proxy vote on President Trump. It was a partisan impeachment in both houses," Kennedy wrote in February, ignoring the fact that Republican Sen. Mitt Romney had voted with every Senate Democrat to convict. "Our founders did not intend impeachment to be used this way. I believe Speaker Pelosi's attempt to normalize impeachment and to turn it into a routine political weapon was a mistake. In fact, it was reckless. A country as great as ours deserves better, and so do her people."

Marsha Blackburn: "While this is the first time impeachment has been used as a partisan political tool, it was unseemly that it made its way to the Senate chamber," Blackburn said in February. "The impeachment of President Donald J. Trump was not a matter of procedure—it was an attempted coup, brought forth at the expense of the safety and prosperity of the American people. Every member of Congress must now reflect, remember, and take to heart the real legacy of this dark moment in history, when ruthless partisanship undermined due process, trampled the rule of law, and very nearly erased from precedent those rules that underpin our democratic republic."

The 10 Democratic members of the committee opposed the subpoenas on Thursday. Their requests to subpoena Trump associates were all rejected by the GOP majority.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.