Democratic House Intelligence Committee chair Adam Schiff, obviously with the blessing of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, has been conducting a secretive “impeachment inquiry” of President Donald Trump that consists of closed-door hearings and selective leaks of narrative-enforcing tidbits. Few Republicans are being granted access to the partisan proceedings.
A cadre of House Republicans have had enough of that, however, and about 30 of them — led by Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz — stormed into a closed-door hearing on Wednesday to see what was going on for themselves. Schiff couldn’t take the heat and fled the room, calling off the day’s hearing altogether.
Adam Schiff just SHUT DOWN his secret underground impeachment hearing after I led a group of Republicans into the room. Now he’s threatening me with an Ethics complaint! I’m on the Armed Services Cmte but being blocked from the Dept. Asst. SecDef’s testimony. This is a SHAM! pic.twitter.com/6qUMerxENC
— Rep. Bradley Byrne (@RepByrne) October 23, 2019
Lack of transparency
The group of Republican lawmakers held an impromptu news conference outside of the secure hearing room Wednesday morning prior to forcing their way in, complaining about the lack of transparency in Schiff’s secretive “grand jury”-style proceedings.
Gaetz said, “We’re going to try and go in there, and we’re going to try to figure out what’s going on, on behalf of the millions of Americans that we represent that want to see this Congress working for them and not obsessed with attacking a president who we believe has not done anything to deserve impeachment.”
His words were echoed by House Minority Whip Steve Scalise, who said, “What is Adam Schiff trying to hide? I think that’s the question so many people have, so many of my colleagues have, so many people in the press should have.”
“Voting members of Congress are being denied access from being able to see what’s happening behind these closed doors where they’re trying to impeach the president of the United States with a one-sided set of rules,” Scalise added.
This impeachment inquiry is unlike any other
But after the group of Republicans forced their way into the room and staged a “sit-in,” Schiff reportedly left the room with the day’s witness in tow and refused to resume the hearing until the “standoff” had been resolved.
The Washington Examiner reported that Schiff and those deemed worthy to join him had been interviewing Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Laura Cooper, who, according to Fox, oversees the department’s Ukraine policies.
The Examiner noted that, in a break from past precedent in previous impeachment inquiries, Schiff’s Intelligence Committee played the lead role and was supported by the Foreign Affairs and Oversight Committees. Noticeably absent from the proceedings was the Judiciary Committee, which ordinarily would play the lead role and most certainly should have been included.
Schiff’s exclusion of the Judiciary members — such as Gaetz and others who took part in the “sit-in” — as well as his refusal to release transcripts following depositions and interviews, appears to have been one of the main factors behind the decision to barge into the hearing uninvited.
This could be avoided
Were Schiff to allow other members of Congress to participate in the hearings, or at least release full transcripts once the hearings were complete, this probably wouldn’t be as much of an issue as it has become.
The fact that he has been so secretive with what is being said behind those closed doors — save for the selective leaks he allows out to the media — as well as the manner in which he abruptly called off the hearing, took his ball and went home on Wednesday, only reinforces the perception that he is not acting in good faith.