Members of the House Judiciary Committee on Thursday debated questions of whether Republicans had been treated fairly by the majority during the impeachment inquiry into President Trump, zeroing in on a debate around process.
The debate over Republican treatment kicked off early in the hearing on Thursday, when committee ranking member Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.) brought up a point of order on scheduling a “minority day of hearings” to allow Republicans to question witnesses they wanted to hear from.
Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) ruled against Collins’ request to schedule the minority hearing day during the markup of articles of impeachment, with Republicans strongly objecting to this on the grounds of ensuring the process was fair.
Rep. Debbie Lesko (R-Ariz.) said that she was “disturbed” by Nadler’s ruling, pointing to a House rule that set standards for the impeachment process as requiring Democrats to schedule a minority day of hearings.
“The rules have been thrown out the window here on this process, I just can’t believe it,” Lesko said, pointing also to the Judiciary Committee not questioning any of the “fact witnesses” that testified before the House Intelligence Committee and instead questioning legal experts.
“It just continues to amaze me how corrupt, how unfair this process has been from the start,” Lesko said. “This is a sham impeachment, and it sure is a shame.”
Lesko also took issue with the House Judiciary Committee not being as involved in the impeachment process around President Trump than it was in previous impeachment efforts against former Presidents Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton.
Democrats hit back against this, with Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) noting that a special Senate investigative committee examined evidence during the Nixon impeachment inquiry, and Rep. Joe Neguse (D-Colo.) saying that the House Judiciary Committee did not examine fact witnesses during the Clinton impeachment inquiry.
Neguse also criticized Republicans for taking issue with the process and largely not addressing Trump’s conduct.
“I have heard very little of any substantive defenses of the president’s conduct, but focus again on some very farcical process arguments in my view,” Neguse said, adding that hoped Republicans would “dispense with these process arguments and get to the substance of why we are here today.”
Republican concerns around the impeachment inquiry process have been a major issue since the beginning of the closed-doors impeachment inquiry interviews earlier this year, with Republicans taking issue with members not on specific committees being kept out of the initial interviews.
The lack of a minority day of hearings has also been a key issue for Republicans on both the House Judiciary and Intelligence Committees.
“The key is all of the denials of the minority requests,” Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) said during the markup. “The Republicans and the president have not been able to put on live witnesses to basically put together a defense.”