At a press conference following the first House impeachment inquiry vote, Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.) called on Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), the head of the House Intelligence Committee, to be the first witness in the upcoming impeachment hearings to answer questions on the anonymous whistleblower that triggered the impeachment inquiry.
“What you’ve heard so far is very true. But as I said on the floor today, what you saw in the House was a very dark cloud falling upon this democracy. Even more, it’s falling upon the House because what is happening here—and [Rep. Jim] McGovern had the audacity to stand there today and say all Republicans want to do is argue about process; they don’t want to argue about substance. I think our leadership team and others have said today that’s not true,” he said.
Toward the end of his statement, Collins, who is the ranking member on the House Judiciary Committee, then went after Schiff and asked him to testify before the House Judiciary Committee.
“When it gets to the Judiciary Committee I do have one thing for Mr. Schiff. If he wants to be, as said, a special counsel, he set himself up, then here’s my challenge to Mr. Schiff. You want to be Ken Starr? Be Ken Starr. Come to the Judiciary Committee. Be the first witness and take every question asked of you,” Collins said, referring to former investigator into President Clinton’s impeachment case.
“Folks, this ain’t over. Get ready,” Collins concluded.
The whistleblower, who has yet to be identified, reportedly contacted an aide in Schiff’s office before taking his complaint to the intelligence community inspector general. Schiff has said that he wasn’t aware of the substance of the complaint.
The reported series of events have triggered a GOP-led backlash against Schiff, including from President Donald Trump himself.
However, Republicans have claimed Schiff colluded with the whistleblower to trigger the House Democrat-led impeachment inquiry into Trump. The whistleblower claimed Trump abused his office to pressure Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in a July 25 phone call.
In Thursday’s vote, no Republicans supported the resolution and three didn’t vote. Two Democrats bucked the party’s trend and voted against the resolution, which was a procedural motion to lay out ground rules in the case.
Meanwhile, Schiff issued a statement of his own following the vote.
“This is a solemn day in the history of our country,” Schiff said, echoing statements made by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).
“We take no joy in having to move down this road and proceed with this impeachment inquiry, but neither do we shrink from it,” he said. “During the depositions that we’ve conducted thus far we’ve used a format we believe is very conducive to the fact-finding process,” and that process will continue in the open hearings,” Schiff said, who also added staff counsel will be permitted to do sustained questioning of up to 45 minutes for each side, as has been the case.