Nothing about what the Democrats have done so far in regards to the impeachment process has been according to previously recognized rules and precedents.
They’ve failed to even have a floor vote of the full House to open an inquiry as has been done in the past. That has also allowed them to skirt the rules requiring such things as bipartisan questioning in hearings. That’s prompted some to believe they aren’t serious, are playing to their base or are hoping to shake some more information loose to get President Donald Trump.
Republicans have ripped them for ignoring proper process so far. The White House has said they do not have to comply with the requests from Democrats if Democrats aren’t even proceeding with a vote on a formal inquiry.
But there’s another big problem in how they are proceeding, as Byron York of the Washington Examiner points out.
There have so far been two hearings in the House Democrats’ effort to impeach President Trump over the Ukraine matter. Both have been held in secret. One was Thursday, the other Friday, and the public does not know what was said in either. Two more are scheduled for this week and will be held behind closed doors, too.
The hearings are part of an effort to remove the president from office. There could not be a matter of more pressing public concern. There could not be a matter in which the American people have a greater stake. And yet the public has no idea what is being discovered.
Last week’s sessions weren’t just secret. They were super-secret. The first hearing, in which the witness was former Ukraine special envoy Kurt Volker, was held in what is known as a SCIF, which stands for sensitive compartmented information facility. It is a room in the Capitol built to be impervious to electronic surveillance so that lawmakers can discuss the nation’s most important secrets without fear of discovery.
The second hearing, in which Intelligence Community Inspector General Michael Atkinson testified, was also held in the SCIF.
Obviously, there was nothing terribly secret in the Volker and Atkinson hearings, as York notes. GOP came out of the meeting saying that nothing supported the impeachment hearing.
So why would you hold it in the SCIF unless you simply didn’t want the public to hear what he had to say which apparently didn’t support the Democrats’ agenda?
Republicans are ripping the lack of transparency and pointing the finger at Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) who is leading the flawed effort.
“Adam Schiff is running an impeachment inquiry secretly, behind closed doors, and he’s making up the rules as he goes along,” said Republican Rep. John Ratcliffe.
“These proceedings should be public,” added Republican Rep. Jim Jordan. “Democrats are trying to remove the president 13 months before an election based on an anonymous whistleblower … and they’re doing it all in a closed-door process.”
“This is nothing more or less than a show trial for the media,” said Rep. Devin Nunes, ranking Republican on the Intelligence Committee, noting that with secrecy rules in place, the public knows only what is leaked to the press. “The Democrats leak what they want to leak to build narratives.”
This week they have more interviews coming up which will also be held in secret.
Schiff argues that the secrecy is needed to protect the whistleblower. But that’s nonsense. One doesn’t have to use his name and one can set parameters as to restrict identifying information.
But trying to use that as an excuse to keep the whole proceedings secret from the American public is Orwellian, screams “coup” and abuse of power. They don’t want you to know what’s going on, they want to filter it, feed you their narrative and have media spin it for them.
It isn’t about respect for the American people and or the Constitution, it’s all about how they can seize power. That’s fundamentally wrong and needs to be called out.