Trump Calls It a 'Coup'; In 1998, Dems Supporting Bill Clinton Agreed Impeachment Effort Was a 'Coup'

Susan Jones | October 2, 2019 | 7:05am EDT
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President Donald Trump speaks about a whistleblower in the Oval Office on September 30, 2019. (Photo by Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images)

( - President Trump said the Democrat effort to impeach him -- three years in the making and now gaining momentum -- "is not an impeachment, it is a COUP."

Trump tweeted on Tuesday:

As I learn more and more each day, I am coming to the conclusion that what is taking place is not an impeachment, it is a COUP, intended to take away the Power of the People, their VOTE, their Freedoms, their Second Amendment, Religion, Military, Border Wall, and their God-given rights as a Citizen of The United States of America!

In December 1998, as the Republican-led House of Representatives debated articles of impeachment against President Bill Clinton for lying under oath and obstructing justice, numerous Democrats described the effort as a "coup."

Here are excerpts of various Democrats, some still serving in Congress, who denounced the Clinton impeachment as a "coup." Their comments can be found in the congressional record.

(Retired) Rep. John Conyers of Michigan served as ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee during the Clinton impeachment.

We are confronted with an overzealous and non-independent counsel report combined with a totally politicized process in the committee with party line votes onv nearly every issue. And so, I want to remind my colleagues that I am witnessing the most tragic event of my career in the Congress, in effect a Republican coup d’etat, in process...

Rep. Jerrold Nadler of New York, then a member of the House Judiciary Committee and now its chairman, said:

The American people are watching, and they will not forget. You may have the votes, you may have the muscle, but you do not have the legitimacy of a national consensus or of a constitutional imperative. This partisan coup d’etat will go down in infamy in the history of this Nation...

Mr. Speaker, it is a coup d’etat when you impeach a President for allegations that even if true the overwhelming majority of constitutional scholars say are not impeachable offenses. It is a coup d’etat when most of the prosecutors who testified in front of the committee said no prosecutor would seek an indictment because no jury would convict on the evidence we have. And it is a coup d’etat when you seek to upset an election, to overturn an election without a broad consensus of the necessity for doing so against the majority of the American people. That describes a coup d’etat, Mr. Speaker...

Rep. Maxine Waters of California invoked American troops:

Mr. Speaker, how must our American soldiers feel to have their Commander in Chief under attack while they are engaged in battle? They have the right to feel betrayed and undermined. Today we are here in the people’s House debating the partisan impeachment of the President of the United States of America while the Commander in Chief is managing a crisis and asking world leaders for support. This is indeed a Republican coup d’etat...

Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.):

Yes, the President made a grievous personal error, to the detriment of his family. But no, it is not an offense against the State or our Constitution. We are now on the threshold of overturning the people’s choice for President through a perversion of the Independent Counsel law, a runaway partisan investigation of the most intimate, private activity...

Make no mistake about it, this is a constitutional amendment that we are debating, not an impeachment resolution. The Republicans are crossing out the impeachment standard of high crimes and misdemeanors, and they are inserting the words "any crime or misdemeanor." We are permitting a constitutional coup d’etat which will haunt this body forever. A constitutional clause intended to apply to a Benedict Arnold selling out his country will now be expanded to cover every personal transgression. Every future President, Democrat or Republican, will be subject to harassment by his political enemies, who can credibly threaten impeachment for the slightest misconduct...

Rep. Nita Lowey of New York:

Unfortunately, there is a determined minority in America and in this Chamber who never accepted the legitimacy of this President. To them this episode is mere pretext to accomplish what they could not during two separate elections. The majority is not here today to give the President his fair day in court. They are here to oust him...And make no mistake, my colleagues, not all coups are accompanied by the sound of marching boots and rolling tanks. Some, like today, are wrapped in a constitutional veneer, softened by pious assertions of solemn obligation and duty. But the result is the same, defiance of the public will and rejection of the regular political process.

(Retired) Rep. Albert Wynn of Maryland:

Mr. Speaker, I rise in strong opposition to these articles of impeachment. We are perhaps at one of the lowest points in American politics. We are in the midst of a parliamentary coup. The party in the majority want to remove an elected president...

(Retired) Rep. Sam Farr of California:

No one, anywhere in the world today, can explain why a Congress would impeach the most popular elected President in the world at a time when that President is engaged in a conflict in Iraq. What you see here today is not a demonstration of democracy; it is a demonstration of a partisan political coups.

(Retired) Rep. Corinne Brown of Florida:

Let me tell you what the real crime and high misdemeanor is, my fellow Americans. In 1994, the leaders announced their Contract on America. And today is the final agenda of that contract. They began their contract by attempting to cut school lunch, Head Start, food stamps, health care and Medicare for the elderly. These are the crimes that should be punished. This is a modern day coup d’etat, Mr. Speaker. It is the final piece of their contract...

Rep. Eliot Engel of New York:

Mr. Speaker, I rise in strong opposition to impeachment. I rise in strong opposition to this attempt at a bloodless coup d'etat, this attempt to overturn two national elections. The American people are ahead of the politicians; they are certainly ahead of the majority party. They want censure. Why are we not given the opportunity to vote up or down for censure on the House floor?

Rep. Jose Serrano of New York:

It should be clear to anyone who has paid attention that the right wing has not gotten over the fact that the President has been elected and re-elected. And so here we are today in the middle of a right wing coup. It does not matter what they tell you here this weekend, the fact is that the majority party is trying to undo the last two elections.

For the record, Rep. Steve Chabot, a Republican from Ohio, was among those pushing back on the "coup" narrative during the 1998 debate:

"As to those who mistakenly claim that this body is seeking to overturn an election or we are involved in a coup d’etat, let me remind my friends on the other side of the aisle that it is the Democratic Vice President, Al Gore, who would become President if the Senate decides to remove President Clinton because of his crimes and remove him from office."


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