Thursday, October 24, 2019

Inside the Closed-Door House Impeachment Meetings

Photo: Al Drago/Bloomberg News
Republicans say witnesses should be testifying in public, while Democrats say there are good reasons to keep them private for now
Nearly all of the witnesses in the House impeachment inquiry have testified behind closed doors, drawing attention—including objections—to the process Democrats are using to explore whether to remove President Trump from office.
The investigation into Mr. Trump’s effort to have Ukraine investigate former Vice President Joe Biden, a candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination, is taking a different path so far than the three previous presidential impeachments. That has prompted accusations from Republicans that Democrats are keeping secret the information they are gathering.
“You know who’s not invited to these meetings ... the American people,” House Minority Whip Steve Scalise said this week on Fox News Channel. He accused House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff (D., Calif.) of “trying to hide from the American people what’s really going on behind these closed doors.”
Democrats counter that the inquiry, which is being conducted by three House committees, is in its early, fact-finding stage. They point to previous House investigations that have had closed-door depositions and said they intended to make the testimonies public.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) has set no time limit on the investigation and said Thursday that “the timeline will depend on the truth line, and that’s what we’re looking for.”
The White House isn’t cooperating and is defying several subpoenas, which Mr. Schiff said will be considered obstruction and additional evidence “of the wrongfulness of the President’s underlying misconduct.” Refusal to comply with the subpoenas could be included in the articles of impeachment, as it was for President Nixon. (The House Judiciary Committee approved three impeachment articles against Mr. Nixon in 1974, but he resigned before the full House voted on them.)
The depositions are taking place in a secure area in the basement of the U.S. Capitol building. Mr. Schiff, who is leading the inquiry, along with the leaders of the Foreign Affairs and Oversight panels, said Wednesday the reason for the closed-door interviews was to prevent witnesses coordinating their testimony to line up a description of events.
Read the rest from the WSJ HERE.

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