Sen. Lee: It was unfair that Justice Roberts punished GOP for Dems’ rude behavior

Screengrab Fox News

Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, took exception to Chief Justice John Roberts admonishing both sides late Tuesday for their conduct in the Senate impeachment trial against President Trump.

The senator said the House prosecution was rude, insulting and demeaning to all concerned.

Appearing on Fox News, Lee said Trump’s attorneys “did an exceptionally good job of defending the president” on the first day of the impeachment trial.

He was asked about reports that he was busy writing things down throughout the proceedings and the lawmaker explained what he was doing.

“I was taking notes,” Lee said. “I mean, look, I was taking count, number one, of the number of times they mispronounced Pat Cipollone’s name. It’s not that hard, people. I don’t think I heard a member of the House manager prosecution team pronounce his name once correctly the entire day.

“I took notes of the number of times they were personally insulting,” the senator said of the Democrats. “At one point the chief justice had to step in and remind them not to do that. This is the Senate.”

It was at this point that Lee called out Roberts for not being fair in his rebuke.

“I’m grateful to the chief justice, he did a good job, his demeanor was great, he maintained his patience,” he said. “I thought it was unfair of him to direct that to both sets of counsels. Because it felt like collective punishment for isolated guilt.”

“This was the fault of the House management prosecution team,” Lee insisted. “They were rude, they were insulting, they were demeaning — not just of the president, but their opposing counsel and indeed, to the Senate itself.”

The point of contention was Rep. Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., who smeared the opposing team for essentially obstructing justice by not allowing new witnesses.

“It’s embarrassing,” Nadler said. “The president is on trial in the Senate, but the Senate is on trial in the eyes of the American people. Will you vote to allow all the relevant evidence to be presented here? Or will you betray your pledge to be an impartial juror? … Will you bring Ambassador Bolton here? Will you permit us to present you with the entire record of the president’s misconduct? Or will you instead choose to be complicit in the president’s coverup? So far I’m sad to say I see a lot of senators voting for a coverup, voting to deny witnesses, an absolutely indefensible vote, obviously a treacherous vote.”

The insulting remarks prompted a spirited response from White House counsel Pat Cipollone, who effectively shut down Nadler by reminding him “you’re not in charge here!”

Roberts issued a stern rebuke to remind both sides they were in the U.S. Senate.

“It is appropriate at this point for me to admonish both the House managers and the president’s counsel in equal terms to remember that they are addressing the world’s greatest deliberative body,” he said.

Lee suggested the House impeachment managers hurt their own cause, given that the senators are the jury.

“I will say this — I think the Senate as a whole, and definitely among Senate Republicans yesterday, was not impressed, were not drawn in closer to the House managers by the words of the House managers themselves,” he said.

“There’s an old adage, it’s an adage that doesn’t really even need to be repeated most of the time, which is, you don’t go in and insult your jury or your judge. Here they did both,” Lee explained.

After listening to the case against Trump, Lee said he was “not seeing any need for witnesses at all.”

“I still think that the impeachment charges themselves are sufficiently flawed and sufficiently baseless,” he said. “There’s not a genuine issue of material fact here. Meaning, we don’t have any facts that are in dispute that are sufficiently critical to the charges and to their success.”

Tom Tillison


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