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Brooks urges Senate to use federal rules of evidence in Trump’s impeachment trial

Congressman Mo Brooks speaking on the House floor.

Thursday, Congressman Mo Brooks (R-Huntsville) and 8 conservative House colleagues sent a letter to United States Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer urging them to adopt the Federal Rules of Evidence for the Senate’s President Trump impeachment trial.

The other Republican congressmen who joined Brooks in the letter were Reps. Paul A. Gosar, D.D.S. (AZ-04), Jeff Duncan (SC-03), Jody Hice (GA-10), Ted Yoho (FL-03), Neal P. Dunn (FL-02), Bob Gibbs (OH-07), Mark Meadows (NC-11), and Debbie Lesko (AZ-08)

“The best way for the American people to discern the truth about impeachment is by using evidentiary standards developed by our judicial system over the past two centuries,” Congressman Brooks wrote. “The Federal Rules of Evidence, used in all federal courtrooms, generally excludes hearsay, gossip, rumor, opinions and otherwise irrelevant evidence from consideration for one simple reason: history has revealed that such evidence is unreliable and makes it harder for judges and juries to determine the truth of a matter. The House’s impeachment proceedings have been devoid of evidentiary standards. The Senate should and can do better.”

“In America, everyone has the right to a fair trial— presidents included,” Brooks continued. “The formal adoption of the Federal Rules of Evidence would give Chief Justice Roberts a clear-cut standard for deciding admissibility of evidence during the Senate impeachment trial.”

“An impeachment trial is as consequential as it gets in America’s political system,” Brooks explained. “There is simply no room for bad, misleading or otherwise weak evidence our judicial experts know, from experience, should never be considered. Chief Justice Roberts and the Senate should adopt the Federal Rules of Evidence and exclude substandard evidence from consideration during the impeachment trial.”

A number of witnesses provided evidence to House committees on impeachment that Republicans challenged as hearsay evidence. While hearsay is inadmissible in most instances in a criminal prosecution impeachment is a political process and not a judicial process thus Democratic Committee chairs were allowed to admit testimony that likely would have been barred in a federal court proceeding.

“Democrats began an effort to overturn an election behind the closed doors of a sensitive compartmented information facility used for classified information,” Congressman Meadows wrote. “They leaked only anti-Trump information and kept Americans in the dark from context for weeks. And it’s certainly no wonder that Democrats guarded the full set of facts from the public as long as they could. In the weeks of open hearings, their case didn’t just render little evidence – it fell apart at the faintest sign of scrutiny.”

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“Officials like America’s acting ambassador to Ukraine, William Taylor, admitted to never having been a party to any conversations, negotiations or discussions providing firsthand knowledge,” Meadows charged. :Former Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch didn’t finish her opening statement before acknowledging she could bring no testimony regarding any quid pro quo allegations against the president – or, the entire basis of the impeachment. Even the “star witness” – Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland – admitted he had no evidence “other than his assumptions.” In other words: he had nothing at all.”

Mo Brooks is serving in his fifth term representing the Fifth Congressional District.

Brandon Moseley is a former reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter.

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