The impeachment of a president is one of the most solemn and serious actions the House of Representatives has the authority to take, so shouldn’t there be maximum transparency?
That’s the argument President Donald Trump and Congressional Republicans have been making as House Democrats have spent the past month holding impeachment hearings behind closed doors, with bits of information being selectively leaked to the media. (RELATED: Jim Jordan Rips Democrats For Handling Of Trump Investigations)
“For the Democrats to continue hiding this impeachment process from Congress, and more importantly the public, is a real disservice to voters across the country,” Republican North Carolina Rep. Mark Meadows told the Daily Caller.
The White House has also been reluctant to comply with the investigation, criticizing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi over a lack of transparency, while calling the process “illegitimate.” Now, it appears pressure from Republicans has forced Pelosi’s hand, as she released an impeachment resolution that is expected to be voted on in the House in the near future. Still, Republicans insist that the damage has been done as the information obtained to this point was done in private in a process that some Republicans believe has been rigged by Democrats still upset about the results of the 2016 presidential election. (RELATED: Nancy Pelosi Claims Democrat Dan McCready Actually Won In North Carolina)
“The information we’re discussing in these interviews is not classified — there is no reason why the discussions need to take place in secret, in a SCIF,” Meadows said “Open this process up, do it in public, and trust the American people to judge the evidence for themselves.”
With Pelosi officially announcing her intention to hold a vote, Republicans are taking that as an admission from the speaker that the process up to this point has been a sham, and the fact that House Democrats are still holding closed-door hearings even after promising a vote may be irreversibly poisoning the well, and turning the process into the exact type of partisan spectacle that Pelosi has repeatedly said she wanted to avoid. (RELATED: Will Nancy Pelosi Budge On Impeachment?)
“This resolution is a bogus attempt to legitimize an ‘impeachment’ effort that doesn’t offer real fairness, due process, or transparency,” House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Doug Collins tweeted Wednesday. “Democrats can’t un-poison the well.”
Democrats insist that they are not violating House rules or norms, and are quick to point out that Republicans also held a lot of closed-door hearings when they were in the majority. Democrats also point out that all the Republicans on the Oversight, Judiciary, and Intelligence Committees are being allowed to participate in the hearings.
“I think the process is playing out exactly how the rules of the House are supposed to be play out,” liberal Fox News commentator and former Chuck Schumer aide Christopher Hahn told the Daily Caller.
Hahn also added that public hearings often turn into a “spectacle,” with members frequently grandstanding
“There’s more ability to hear the truth when there’s not a public spectacle,” Hahn said. “During Benghazi, Trey Gowdy made clear that private hearings were more productive.”
However, Hahn did express some concern that the inevitable public impeachment hearings will devolve into partisan theater, and proposed an outside-the-box idea to remedy the situation. (RELATED: It Looks Like Trey Gowdy Won’t Join Team Trump After All)
“I think that the staff should ask the questions on both sides,” Hahn said.
The idea would certainly be a way for Pelosi to help ease the partisan tensions in the room, something that has been a priority for her. Pelosi has desperately sought to distance the impeachment process from other disagreements Democrats have with the administration, saying the impeachment process is about patriotism not partisanship, and liberals are hopeful that the speaker’s reputation as a master political tactician will be able to get some anti-Trump Republicans on board with an impeachment inquiry.
“I’m gonna put the over/under at 10,” Hahn said of the number of Republicans who will vote “aye” on the impeachment resolution.
That would be an extraordinary number, given that Republican leadership has presented a united front in support of the president. Former Republican turned Independent Rep. Justin Amash will almost certainly vote in favor of beginning an inquiry, while retiring Florida Rep. Francis Rooney has said he’d consider it. Outside of Rooney and Amash, it’s hard to imagine any other non-Democrat voting for the resolution, especially given how partisan the process has become at this point.
Still, Democrats are betting that Pelosi will find a way to exploit Republican frustrations with Trump, and fatally damage his presidency. That’s a bet that seems a long way from paying off as Republicans continue to stand firm behind the president.