The Democrats will, (maybe), vote on Thursday to authorize their “formal impeachment inquiry” on Thursday of this week, ending over a month of partisan bickering regarding the process by which the probe is conducted.
This will be a relief for conservative lawmakers who have consistently railed against the secretive and clandestine nature of the process so far, specifically chastising House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff for his reticence to allow for a public cross examination of witnesses.
But the vote itself is being seen as a day late and a buck short for many of these congressional Republicans, who today lashed out at the notion that this maneuver would somehow bring parity to the proceedings.
The prepared testimony of an Army lieutenant colonel who listened in on the phone call between President Trump and the president of Ukraine last July is “wrong, ” according to the top House Republican.
“Nothing in that phone call is impeachable,” Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., said. McCarthy said he did not question Lt. Col. Andrew Vindman’s service, but said, “People have different philosophical beliefs.”
In his opening statement, Vindman stated that he “did not think it was proper to demand that a foreign government investigate a U.S. citizen, and I was worried about the implications for the U.S. government’s support of Ukraine.”
McCarthy broke it down quite succinctly:
“You can’t put the genie back in the bottle,” McCarthy said. “Due process starts from the beginning.”
Others joined the chorus of discontent.
House Minority WhipSteve Scalise (R-La.) said he doesn’t believe the measure will help bring transparency to the process as House Rules Committee Chairman Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) — who is slated to introduce the measure on Tuesday — said it is intended to do, blasting Democrats for opting to hold the hearings behind closed doors and allowing only members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, House Intelligence Committee, and House Oversight and Reform Committee to attend the depositions.
“From what we’re hearing, it sounds like all they’re trying to do is codify the Soviet-style impeachment process that they’ve been running where they don’t let both sides called witnesses,” he said. “It’s all Adam Schiff’s personal show to try to build a case of innuendo because they don’t have any real facts.”
Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) — a member of the House Judiciary Committee who led a group of Republicans to storm the sensitive compartmented information facility last week in protest of the closed-door hearings — said he believes the decision to bring a measure to the floor is a direct result of Republicans’ calls to open up the process.
“I think that Nancy Pelosi is not someone who usually calls audibles, and the fact that she’s calling an audible here, adopting as her message for the week something that she referred to just weeks ago as a Republican talking point, indicates that they were feeling the heat,” he told The Hill.
Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-N.Y.) said he still needs to see the text of the resolution Democrats plan to put forward but said he feels the vote is long overdue.
“We’ll see what the resolution looks like, as I’ve been saying this entire time with regards to the ability for the minority party to call witnesses, to have an equal allocation of staffing, for all of the transcripts to be released to not just members of Congress but to the American public,” he said.
The White House had previously stated that they would not be cooperating with the “inquiry” due to the lack of just such a vote to authorize it.
There has been no indication that Thursday’s vote will satisfy the West Wing.
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