The nation’s largest police organization on Tuesday accused Congress of violating the due process rights of American citizens “to score political points,” as Republican leaders claim Democrats are undermining President Trump’s rights in its impeachment inquiry.
“The Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) exists, in part, to defend these rights, not just for police officers, but for all citizens at every level, from the indigent living on the street to the president living in the White House,” the statement from the National FOP President Patrick Yoes said.
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While the statement did not mention the impeachment inquiry explicitly, the reference to the president reflects concerns from Republicans that Trump’s rights are being infringed.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., accused Democrats on Wednesday of denying Trump “basic due process rights and…cutting his counsel out of the process in an unprecedented way.” Republicans have cited as examples the closed-door nature of many of the hearings and limits on Republicans to call witnesses.
“House Democrats’ new resolution does not change any of that. It does not confer on President Trump the most basic rights of due process or, seemingly, alter [Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam] Schiff’s unfair process in the House Intelligence Community in any way whatsoever,” McConnell said. “Chairman Schiff can continue doing this behind closed doors without the President’s participation, so long as he holds at least one public hearing at some point.”
McConnell summarized the House impeachment resolution to be voted on Thursday as “No due process now, maybe some later, but only if we feel like it.”
The FOP, which backed Trump in 2016, accused lawmakers of undermining trust by ignoring the universal application of due process for political purposes.
“Just as local law enforcement are often convicted in the media after being denounced by local elected officials without collecting the facts, these Members are violating due process to score political points,” it said.
Yoes contrasted the treatment of due process rights of police by lawmakers with how they vigorously defend the rights of criminals and illegal immigrants.
“Members of Congress tirelessly and stridently defend the due process rights of criminals, while seeking to curtail the rights of those charged with protecting American citizens. They seek to shield people who come to our country unlawfully from being subjected to our laws, and yet ignore the violence to citizens and to our economy committed by those who violate our immigration laws,” he said.
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He also said that members of Congress frequently demand “transparency” from government agencies and law enforcement, but have developed different standards for themselves.
“You cannot have justice without due process,” the statement said. “Denying due process is a betrayal of our shared American ideals and a grave disservice to our Republic.”