In a memo from then-Sen. Joe Biden (D-DE) in 1999, Biden strongly warns against allowing new witnesses or evidence to be brought into the Senate impeachment trial of President Bill Clinton.
Obtained by Politico, Biden cites in the memo numerous historical precedents from prior impeachment cases and even argued that “the Senate need not hold a ‘full-blown’ trial.”
“The Senate may dismiss articles of impeachment without holding a full trial or taking new evidence. Put another way, the Constitution does not impose on the Senate the duty to hold a trial,” Biden wrote, later adding, “In a number of previous impeachment trials, the Senate has reached the judgment that its constitutional role as a sole trier of impeachments does not require it to take new evidence or hear live witness testimony.”
Biden even warned against allowing the trial to be drawn out, writing, “In light of the extensive record already compiled, it may be that the benefit of receiving additional evidence or live testimony is not great enough to outweigh the public costs (in terms of national prestige, faith in public institutions, etc.) of such a proceeding,” Biden said. “While a judge may not take such considerations into account, the Senate is uniquely competent to make such a balance.”
The article quickly went viral and Republican Senators, who were sitting in the Senate trial, immediately asked a question about Biden’s 1999 memo, calling it the “Biden rule.”
From @JoeBiden in 1999:— Christian Martinez (@C_RMartinez) January 31, 2020
“In a number of previous impeachment trials, the Senate has reached the judgment that its constitutional role as a sole trier of impeachments does not require it to take new evidence or hear live witness testimony.”https://t.co/n0edazrrzj pic.twitter.com/0iaeKmrDy3