An old video resurfaced Wednesday showing then-Sen. Joe Biden, D-Del., admonishing Republicans considering impeaching then-President Bill Clinton in 1998, arguing that Congress should only pursue proceedings based on principle rather than "politics."
"The American people don’t think that they have made a mistake by electing Bill Clinton," Biden said in a recently-surfaced video, "and we in Congress had better be very careful before we upset their decision, and make darn sure that we are able to convince them if we decide to upset their decision that our decision to impeach him was based upon principle and not politics."
"Congress must pursue the facts and quickly take prompt action to hold Donald Trump accountable," he said in a statement released by his campaign. Biden's statement specifically called out the administration for suppressing the whistleblower report cited by Pelosi, D-Calif., in Tuesday's announcement.
According to Pelosi, the administration violated U.S. law when the Director of National Intelligence blocked an unnamed whistleblower from speaking out on Trump's comments to Ukrainian leadership. The administration has denied any wrongdoing and claimed whistleblower statutes didn't apply to that particular report.
The specter of impeachment has naturally conjured media comparisons to Clinton's administration-- the last time the House of Representatives impeached a sitting president. The House famously impeached Clinton, accusing him of committing perjury, among other things, when he lied under oath about his affair with White House intern Monica S. Lewinsky,
Biden, at the time, defended the president, suggesting that an impeachment inquiry might subvert the will of the American people.
“This is their president we are talking about," Biden said. "The President of the United States does not serve at the pleasure of the legislature, does not serve at the pleasure of Joe Biden, does not serve at the pleasure of Henry Hyde, does not serve at the pleasure of the Congress, as a prime minister does in a parliamentary system."
"He is elected directly by the people of the United States of America, and the election of a president is the only nationwide vote the American people will ever cast and that’s a big deal."
The issue could become even more complicated for Biden, now the 2020 Democratic frontrunner, as the Ukraine controversy centered on Trump seeking an investigation into corruption allegations surrounding the former vice president.
Republicans and the president have responded to Democratic attacks by framing impeachment as another attack in their relentless war to remove Trump from office. Their rhetoric bore a resemblance to Biden's in that the party has accused Democratic leadership of trying to undermine the 2016 election results.
"There's been a double standard from Democrats since day one with this president,' said Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel. "They have refused to accept the results of the election, boycotting the inauguration, the 2-year Russia hoax where the president was clearly exonerated, no collusion, no obstruction. And now this, where they rush to judgment in a knee-jerk way to bring impeachment proceedings when they haven't even read the transcript or heard from the inspector general."
Pelosi, in 1998, also described Republicans as "paralyzed with hatred" as they pursued impeachment against Clinton.
“Today the Republican majority is not judging the president with fairness, but impeaching him with a vengeance," then-House Minority Leader Pelosi declared on the House floor in December 1998.
She continued, "In the investigation of the president, fundamental principles which Americans hold dear -- fairness, privacy, checks, and balances -- have been seriously violated and why? Because we are here today because the Republicans in the House are paralyzed with hatred of President Clinton. ... Until the Republicans free themselves of that hatred, our country will suffer.”