House Republicans again argued that President Donald Trump didn’t conduct an impeachable offense and said Democrats are trying to eject him for political reasons.
“It’s all political,” said Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.), the top Republican on the House Judiciary Committee, on Monday morning.
“What’s their motive?” Collins asked. “It’s November 2020. Because they cannot get over President Trump is the president of the United States and they don’t have a candidate who can beat him.”
Collins repeatedly highlighted that House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) is absent from the Judiciary Committee hearing despite him being the main architect of the impeachment inquiry.
“Adam Schiff, when he told us he wasn’t going to come, instead, hide behind his staff, he also told us that we’re going to keep investigating,” he said. “Unfortunately, today, the witness who is supposed to be the star witness chose to take a pass, and let his staff answer for him,” Collins added.
Republicans have said Schiff should appear as a fact witness because he allegedly could shed light on the inquiry’s start. Several weeks after the inquiry was launched, Schiff admitted that his staff had contact with the whistleblower at the center of the inquiry before the anonymous person made his complaint about Trump—what GOP members have said is tantamount to collusion.
The House Judiciary Committee’s chairman, Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), in his opening statement, said that a number of witnesses in November’s Intelligence Committee hearings have corroborated some of the whistleblower’s claims. Therefore, he added, the person shouldn’t be called to testify.
The chairman also noted that Trump and his legal team have not appeared before the hearing.
“The record before us is clear on this point as well: We invited the President to participate in this hearing, to question witnesses, and to present evidence that might explain the charges against him. President Trump chose not to show,” Nadler said.
The White House has repeatedly said the impeachment inquiry is a sham and participation would give it the appearance of a legitimate process.
Nadler also gaveled down and refused to hear several requests from GOP committee members, including Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.), the ranking member, and Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.).
House Democrats have said Trump abused his power when he asked Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and son Hunter Biden’s activities there. They have alleged he withheld millions of dollars in security aid to the country, which was denied by both Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
During Monday’s hearings, Trump again highlighted Zelensky’s claims that there was no quid pro quo in a tweet: “Witch hunt!”
Witch Hunt! https://t.co/XrJSUsm9Wq
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 9, 2019
On Sept. 25, Zelensky told the United Nations General Assembly that there was no quid pro quo. In early December, he again made the assertion to Time magazine.
“Look, I never talked to the president from the position of a quid pro quo. That’s not my thing,” Zelensky told several news outlets over the weekend, including Time magazine. He said he doesn’t “understand at all” the allegations made against Trump during the House hearings.