Several House Republicans said they were blocked from the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump, including one who said it was the first time in nearly 17 years in Congress he was blocked from reviewing documents.
“This morning, I was denied access to any and all classified documents related to impeachment. In my nearly 17 years in Congress, this is the first time that I’ve been unable to review documentation being held at the House Intel Committee. This is completely unacceptable,” Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Fla.) said in a statement.
Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.) said he tried to join the impeachment inquiry closed-door session being held on Oct. 16 but was denied access.
Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) gained access to an impeachment inquiry hearing on Monday but was thrown out.
Biggs told reporters that the inquiry is not formal because House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) didn’t hold a House vote authorizing the inquiry. There are major discrepancies between what’s happening and the normal course of events in Congress, he alleged.
This morning, I was denied access to any and all classified documents related to impeachment. In my nearly 17 years in Congress, this is the first time that I’ve been unable to review documentation being held at the House Intel Committee. This is completely unacceptable.
— Mario Diaz-Balart (@MarioDB) October 16, 2019
Chairman Schiff and Speaker Pelosi are intentionally running Soviet-style hearings to deprive the American people of representation. pic.twitter.com/ZMpOmGS8zW
— Rep Andy Biggs (@RepAndyBiggsAZ) October 16, 2019
“If you had a formal impeachment inquiry you wouldn’t be having Soviet-style secret hearings where we have to go plead and say, ‘Can we come in?’ Because normally, every member of Congress can go into any committee hearing that’s ongoing and we can sit there and we can actually go up to somebody sitting at the stand and say, ‘How about this question, you might consider this.’ You can’t do that here.”
Biggs also hit Democrats for refusing to release transcripts from the closed-door depositions of current and former State Department personnel who have testified before several committees in the hearings.
“Why can’t we see the transcript? They don’t know why we can’t see the transcript, only that we can’t see the transcript!” Biggs said.
Biggs said House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), who fabricated portions of the Trump phone call transcript, is holding back the deposition transcripts to dictate what’s happening.
“By delaying the release and preventing us from participating he makes everything move at the speed and direction he wants it to move,” he said.
Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wy.) said on Wednesday that Republican representatives tried to gain access to transcripts of testimony but were denied.
“I think one of the really important things to recognize about the impeachment effort is the extent to which the materials are being kept in secret, not just from the public, but kept in secret from other members,” she told reporters at a press conference.
“The Constitution of the United States does not say that the power of impeachment resides with Speaker Pelosi, it doesn’t say it resides with the speaker of the house, it doesn’t say that it resides with the chairman of the intel committee, it says it resides with the House of Representatives.”
Democrats have said the testimonies need to be kept hidden from most to prevent witnesses from aligning stories.
“The Republicans would like nothing better because they view their role as defending the president being the president’s lawyers. If witnesses could tailor their testimony to other witnesses. They would love for one witness to be able to hear what another witness says so that they can know what they can give away and what they can’t give away,” Schiff said during an interview over the weekend.
“There’s a reason why investigations and grand jury proceedings for example, and I think this is analogous to a grand jury proceeding, are done out of the public view initially. Now we may very well call some of the same witnesses or all the same witnesses in public hearings as well. But we want to make sure that we meet the needs of the investigation and not give the president or his legal minions the opportunity to tailor their testimony and in some cases fabricate testimony to suit their interests.”