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Top Republicans say impeachment resolution is too little too late

The Hill logo The Hill 10/29/2019 Juliegrace Brufke
Kevin McCarthy wearing a suit and tie: Top Republicans say impeachment resolution is too little too late © Greg Nash Top Republicans say impeachment resolution is too little too late

Top Republicans in the House said Monday that Democratic leadership's decision to bring a resolution on impeachment procedures to the floor on Thursday is too little too late.

Since Democrats announced their plans to move forward with a formal impeachment inquiry five weeks ago, Republicans have hammered their colleagues across the aisle on procedure, arguing the process Democrats have conducted lacks transparency and is illegitimate since the full House did not authorize the inquiry in a floor vote.

The news of the upcoming resolution, however, did little to appease them.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said Monday the resolution "proves everything we were saying was correct," telling reporters that Pelosi should have launched the impeachment inquiry with a vote and answered the questions he laid out in a letter on the rules of the probe earlier in the process. McCarthy argued that Republicans had been denied fair proceedings for weeks.

"Did you ever get to cross-examine? Did you get to have a witness, to bring a witness in?" he said, adding that he doesn't believe House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) should be leading the investigation. He said the new measure "now proves that they were wrong from the start."

House Minority Whip Steve 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.

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"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.

"For the president to be able to have council president to cross-examine witnesses, present evidence, exert executive privilege when appropriate, and more — there's a lot that I have been talking about this entire process that should have been corrected a few weeks ago," he added.

Zeldin, a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said he's frustrated that the current rules prevent members in attendance at the hearings from talking about the substance from witnesses' testimonies, alleging that Schiff is selectively leaking and breaking his own rules by talking about the testimonies on television.

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"One of the concerns that I have with the cherry-picked leaks and withholding of key information is that I am abiding by these rules," he said. "I am told that if I don't abide by the rules it's a violation of House rules and an ethics complaint can be filed, and the people who are lecturing me about what the rules are and what the consequences are then go on to a Sunday morning news show and then leak the substance of information."

In a letter to members of her caucus on Monday, Pelosi said that while she does not believe they need to hold a vote to legitimize the impeachment inquiry, it could help provide them with leverage as the White House attempts to stonewall the inquiry.

"This resolution establishes the procedure for hearings that are open to the American people, authorizes the disclosure of deposition transcripts, outlines procedures to transfer evidence to the Judiciary Committee as it considers potential articles of impeachment, and sets forth due process rights for the President and his Counsel," she wrote.

"We are taking this step to eliminate any doubt as to whether the Trump Administration may withhold documents, prevent witness testimony, disregard duly authorized subpoenas, or continue obstructing the House of Representatives," she added.

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