Republican North Carolina Rep. Mark Meadows demanded that House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff make the impeachment inquiry more transparent during a wide-ranging Thursday interview with the Daily Caller.
Meadows defended the decision by House Republicans to storm the closed-door proceedings earlier this week, asserting that his party was trying to send a message about the fact that many members of Congress don’t have access to the witnesses or materials being used to push the impeachment of President Donald Trump. (RELATED: Republicans Storm Closed Impeachment Proceeding)
“It’s just a matter of fairness,” Meadows said. “It’s one thing to keep members of Congress out, it’s another thing to keep the American people out. But they’d had enough — we reached a boiling point, so a number of members who were not on the committees of jurisdiction had articulated that this may be one of the most important votes that they ever take.”
“Hopefully it communicated to Chairman Adam Schiff that it’s time to open up and make this process fair. If he doesn’t get the message, there’s probably going to be a repeat performance of a longer duration,” Meadows warned.
Meadows, a member of the House Freedom Caucus and the Oversight and Foreign Affairs committees, provided three specific actions he’d like Schiff to take in order to make the impeachment inquiry more open.
“There’s three things I would want to see: One, is it shouldn’t be in a SCIF,” Meadows said, noting that the depositions with current and former Trump officials about an alleged pressure campaign on Ukraine have not contained classified information. Three sources familiar with congressional procedure confirmed to the Daily Caller earlier this week that the interviews should be taking place in non-secure facilities, and should only be moved to a SCIF (Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility) if the the information being shared reaches the level of classified.
“The second part of that is all about fairness and due process,” Meadows continued. “It’s not right the only one group of people get to call their witnesses, get to request and have subpoena power get information, and where the minority is denied those kinds of due process protections.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced a formal impeachment inquiry against the president after a whistleblower complained about his July phone call with the Ukrainian president, but the House has yet to vote to officially open the probe. An affirmative vote would allow the minority party the opportunity to subpoena witnesses and documents.
Meadows added, “Third is, get counsel in there that protects some of the equities of the executive branch. I’m one for real aggressive oversight, I’m all about that, but at the same time, the office of the presidency — the personal conversations that he has among his staff and his senior level cabinet members, those are protected.”
GOP aides have previously accused Democrats of issuing “friendly subpoenas” to force witnesses to provide depositions rather than appearing for voluntary interviews, which prevents agency and White House counsel from attending the hearings and asserting privileges.
“So if we do those three things I think it could go a long ways to allowing the verdict to be one that would not only acquit this president, but certainly provide a more balanced opinion to what’s happening,” the congressman concluded.
Meadows also provided some insider information about Republican Texas Rep. John Ratcliffe’s questioning of Ukraine diplomat Bill Taylor. Democrats celebrated Taylor’s deposition as devastating for Trump and the clearest evidence yet of a quid pro quo arrangement with Ukraine, but Republicans claimed that Taylor’s testimony was severely crippled by Ratcliffe’s questions.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy asserted, “In 90 seconds, we had John Ratcliffe destroy his whole argument. We are finding just his questioning refuted everything of what Adam Schiff leaves out there; there is no quid pro quo.”
“That questioning — and it was probably not more than two or three minutes long — it really put a big hole in some of the allegations that had been widely reported,” Meadows confirmed. “Specifically, when you look at a ‘quid pro quo,’ or a promise of something for some other benefit. That did not happen, and I think John did an effective job of showing that did not happen.”
Meadows added that much of the reporting on Trump’s alleged pressure campaign on Ukraine has been “contradicted by other witnesses.”
Schiff notably flipped on having the whistleblower that sparked the impeachment inquiry come testify to Congress, abandoning the idea after it was revealed that the whistleblower met with Schiff’s office prior to filing his or her complaint. Meadows, in concert with some of his colleagues who sent a letter Wednesday communicating the same point, asked for the whistleblower to come before Congress and speak about his or her “coordination with Adam Schiff.”
“What [whistleblowers] don’t do is go to a committee, then go to a lawyer and make sure it’s foot-noted, and bring back a case that honestly looks like it was put together by lawyers making over $1,000 an hour in an effort to impeach the president,” Meadows asserted.