Democrats and Republicans fundamentally disagree about the impeachment inquiry and, therefore, could not come to an agreement on Oct. 30 at the Rules Committee Meeting. The impeachment resolution was being marked up before being finalized for a vote this morning. The Democrats objected to all the changes brought forth by the Republicans.
The House Rules Committee was tasked with going through the impeachment resolution to make possible amendments. The two parties disagreed about what would make the impeachment resolution fair and in line with the constitution. The Democrats pledged that the inquiry process has been completely fair, transparent, and constitutionally aligned from day one while the Republicans resoundingly disagreed.
The Democrats said that the Constitution gives the House of Representatives the authority to lead the inquiry process as they see fit. Congressman Ed Perlmutter (D-Colo.) summarized the reason the inquiry does not seem fair to the Republicans, in fact, Democrats have been making the House majority’s voice heard and exercising their “power of impeachment.”
Perlmutter said, “Article One, section 2.5 of the constitution of the United States, ‘the house of representatives shall choose their speaker and other officers and shall have the sole POWER of impeachment.’ The complaint, the impeachment, the indictment against the president is what we do. And so to the degree that you want to have more due process, the due process is a part of the trial.'”
Perlmutter suggested the Republicans take their questions and concerns about “due process” to the senate, where the trial would be held should there be articles of impeachment.
Congressman Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) in his opening remarks to the committee, gave the reason why the intelligence committee, rather than any other committee is handling the inquiry.
“There is no single report from which this Congress can make a decision whether or not to impeach President Trump on his dealings with Ukraine. That is why the Intelligence Committee has been gathering evidence and hearing testimony.”
McGovern addressed Republican concern about the need to have closed-door hearings in which only members of the respective committees were allowed.
“Reasonable confidentiality has been paramount so that accounts couldn’t be corroborated, and witnesses weren’t unduly influenced. I am proud of our deliberate process so far.”
McGovern continued, “I know some Republicans are very resistant to investigating the President at all. That will not stop the American people from hearing the facts.” He reprimanded the Republicans for “storming” the secure area where witnesses were giving confidential testimony and compromising security.
In his opening remarks to the Rules Committee Minority leader, Congressman Tom Cole (R-Okla.) voiced the Republican concerns.
“We’re meeting today to set forth a process for impeaching the President of the United States—not a fair process, not an open process, not a transparent process—it’s been limited and closed and frankly I think we are moving toward a preordained result.”
“Of course, there was nothing formal about it other than the Speaker saying so. The House never voted to conduct such an inquiry, and the committees have operated in the dark, without formal authorization, on what amounts to nothing more than a fishing expedition.”
Cole addressed one of the amendment concerns by comparing the fact that Nixon and Clinton were given more rights than the rights afforded to President Trump. They were both allowed to have counsel review the documents and materials presented to the committees and cross-examine witnesses, a right Trump has not had.
“Today and in today’s resolution, there is no such right for President Trump to have counsel in any of the depositions, hearings, or inquiries that have been conducted thus far.”
Addressing another amendment concern Cole continued.
“Second, in both the Nixon and Clinton impeachment proceedings, the minority was given the co-equal right to subpoena witnesses and documents. The purpose of this was to ensure that the investigation would be “fair, impartial, and bipartisan.”
He reiterated that the process to date has been partisan and has not respected the rights of the Republican members.
Some of the other seventeen amendments that were presented tried to change some of the language to reflect the minority’s will. They included sections that would authorize the judiciary committee to lead the inquiry instead of the intelligence committee. The amendments tried to address the closed-door nature of the hearing. They asked that they be public and give as many rights to the minority as the majority.
“If this is the time for openness, let us declare that everything will be open going forward, which we do through our colleagues here who serve on the Judiciary Committee,” Cole said.
Another concern that the minority tried to address with their amendments is that Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Adam Schiff should not have the authority to decide if a minority called witness is relevant. The minority also wanted to focus on Trump’s tax return information to be taken out of the resolution and for the focus to be on the whistleblower complaint.
The two sides spent some time arguing over if the president should have to turn over his tax returns. Republicans said the president has the right to withhold his tax return and that the appellate court agrees with him. Still, the Democrats said he is hiding something.
McGovern said in response to the amendment request that the White House has obstructed the impeachment inquiry process.
“This White House has obstructed our investigations, ignored our authorized subpoenas, withheld key documents, and prevented witnesses from testifying and intimidated witnesses. They have tried to disparage members of Congress who are trying to fulfill their responsibilities under the Constitution of the United States. I just for the record will say article one of the constitution gives the House the right to investigate the president.”
Democrats made the argument that the Republicans are turning a blind eye to President Trump’s misconduct and that the inquiry process has been fair and just.
Congresswoman Norma Torres (D-Calif.) said, “Another myth is that minority has no right under this Democratic process. We will continue to give the minority the same rights to question the witnesses as the majority.”
She concluded her remarks by saying, not all members can serve on all committees and get all the information. If they are still angry about that, “Then I want to invite you to the L.A. County Fair, where everything is fair.”
Republicans argued that Democrats hate Trump and have wanted to impeach him from day one, quoting Congressman Al Green (D-Texas) and Congresswomen Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) to make their point.