GOP Congress members have renewed criticism of the impeachment inquiry process on Oct. 21 as the House of Representatives prepare to hear from more witnesses behind closed doors.
The secrecy surrounding the depositions in the House Democrat-run probe over President Donald Trump’s call with Ukraine has drawn particular ire from Republican lawmakers who are concerned about the lack of transparency and apparent absence of due process.
During an appearance on Fox News on Oct. 21, Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) defended the need to highlight the “unfair partisan process” observed during the impeachment inquiry, saying that this probe is unlike any other in history.
“On process: This is not your average investigation,” Jordan said. “This is about impeaching the president of the United States 13 months before an election because they’re afraid he’s going to win in 2020, which I think is going to happen.”
He rejected the argument by House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) that closed-door sessions are necessary. Schiff defended his committee’s closed-door secrecy on Oct. 15 saying that the House was playing the role of an independent counsel or special prosecutor in the inquiry after the Justice Department refused a referral to investigate.
“Try taking that argument to the American people,” Jordan said. “See if they think Adam Schiff is an independent special counsel and a fair fact finder here. So that is why this process is so wrong. The American people, they get fairness, they understand fairness, and they instinctively know what Adam Schiff is doing, what Nancy Pelosi is doing, is not fair.”
“Rep. Jordan: ‘It’s been very clear. No quid pro quo.'”https://t.co/Tnq5yrlqEa
— Rep. Jim Jordan (@Jim_Jordan) October 21, 2019
Likewise, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) also slammed Schiff’s explanation for closed-door hearings during a press conference on Oct. 18, saying that Schiff is “not a prosecutor.”
“Adam Schiff is not a prosecutor, and he’s not from the executive branch. He’s a member of Congress, and that is a blatant abuse of power,” McCarthy said.
Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-N.Y.) took to Twitter on Oct. 21 to criticize the Democrats for their “super secret” depositions that were being held in the Capitol basement.
“This PROCESS has been a joke & the SUBSTANCE has been NOTHING to impeach POTUS for,” Zeldin wrote. “This coup attempt will fail!”
Heading back to DC after Army Reserve duty this past weekend. Tomorrow AM, Adam Schiff’s super secret (yet unclassified) depositions in the Capitol basement resume.
This PROCESS has been a joke the SUBSTANCE has been NOTHING to impeach POTUS for. This coup attempt will fail!
— Lee Zeldin (@RepLeeZeldin) October 21, 2019
Meanwhile, Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.) laid out issues with the way the House Democrats have conducted their inquiry, such as the lack of co-equal subpoena power for Republicans and the Democrat’s failure to follow congressional norms in a series of videos on his social media.
“Myth Number One: Republicans enjoy the same subpoena power that the minority party held during the impeachment inquiry of Bill Clinton in the 105th Congress,” Collins said in one of his videos.
“That’s just totally false because right now all that is happening is Adam Schiff and others on the majority side, with the blessing of Speaker [Nancy] Pelosi is issuing subpoenas as they want. The minority has no powers to issue subpoenas under the current rules because we are not actually in an inquiry,” he continued.
Myth: Republicans have the same subpoena power now as Democrats had during Clinton’s impeachment.
Fact: Republicans can’t subpoena witnesses or documents. They can’t even force a committee vote on subpoenas.#MythBustingMonday pic.twitter.com/otG9ZetJPP
— Rep. Doug Collins (@RepDougCollins) October 21, 2019
Despite facing criticism from Republicans and the White House in recent weeks, Pelosi (D-Calif.) has remained adamant that a vote to authorize the impeachment inquiry is not necessary while Schiff has continued to defend his handling of the investigation.
In a letter on Oct. 8, the White House told the House that it wouldn’t participate in the inquiry because it “violates fundamental fairness and constitutionally mandated due process.”
“You have denied the President the right to cross-examine witnesses, to call witnesses, to receive transcripts of testimony, to have access to evidence, to have counsel present, and many other basic rights guaranteed to all Americans,” White House counsel Pat Cipollone wrote in the letter.
“You have conducted your proceedings in secret. You have violated civil liberties and the separation of powers by threatening Executive Branch officials, claiming that you will seek to punish those who exercise fundamental constitutional rights and prerogatives. All of this violates the Constitution, the rule of law, and every past precedent.”
Professor Kevin Gutzman, an American constitutional scholar from Western Connecticut State University, told The Epoch Times he could not see a constitutional issue with the way House Democrats have used their impeachment power, but did say he thinks it is being used in an abusive way.
“I think it’s kind of abusive in the sense that it’s the majority nakedly using its power in a way that we don’t expect even a House majority to do,” Gutzman said. “There are, of course, customs in the Senate that give the minority substantial power. In the House, this is untrue, and yet, there have been, kind of, courtesies that were usually at least shown to the minority party.”
“And here, especially, it seems Chairman Schiff has decided, and Speaker Pelosi has decided to allow this, just to ignore the customs.”
During his cabinet meeting on Oct. 21, Trump slammed the Democrats for their “phony investigation,” claiming that they wanted to impeach him because the Democrats were afraid they wouldn’t be able to defeat him in 2020.
“It’s so illegitimate. It cannot be the way the founders, our great founders, meant this to be,” Trump told reporters.
“I think they want to impeach me because it’s the only way they’re going to win,” he said.
“They’ve got nothing. All they have is a phone call that is perfect.”
The three committees leading the investigations—Intelligence, Foreign Affairs, and Oversight—are expected to hear testimony this week from several Trump administration officials involved in U.S.-Ukraine policy, including Acting U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Bill Taylor and Laura Cooper, deputy assistant secretary of defense for Russia, Ukraine, and Eurasia, according to a congressional source familiar with the impeachment proceedings.