Rep. McCaul Urges House Committee to Follow Longstanding Bipartisan Impeachment Procedures

October 12, 2019 Updated: October 12, 2019

Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas) has called on the House Foreign Affairs Committee Chair to follow longstanding bipartisan procedures in the chamber’s impeachment inquiry against the president in a letter on Thursday.

McCaul, who is the ranking member of the committee, took issue with the lack of procedural fairness and transparency that is transpiring during the investigation into allegations of President Donald Trump’s conduct during his call with Ukraine.

In his letter, McCaul asked the committee’s chairman, Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.), on whether the proceedings would include “fundamental procedural fairness safeguards” that were present during the last two impeachment inquiries of both Republican and Democratic presidents.

“These basic protections represent longstanding, bipartisan consensus, which—according to precedent on this most serious Constitutional matter—should be voted on and adopted at the outset of an impeachment inquiry,” the letter stated.

“It is deeply troubling that they have been willfully ignored by Speaker Pelosi and Chairman Schiff, even though the Republican Leader sent two letters raising these concerns last week.  It is clear to me that this rush to impeachment is a result of political calculation, not a desire to get to bottom of the matter.”

McCaul added, “The impeachment of a sitting President is not a run-of-the-mill committee inquiry. It is a grave Constitutional reckoning that demands basic standards of order, transparency, and fairness. We are only asking for the same rights and procedures that were afforded to the minority in the Nixon and Clinton impeachment proceedings.

“Without such protections, this rushed proceeding will undermine our Constitutional democracy,” he said.

The Trump-Zelensky call is at the center of a whistleblower complaint that accused the president of leveraging his office and withholding U.S. aid to Ukraine to obtain “dirt” on a political opponent—2020 Democratic candidate Joe Biden.

declassified transcript of a July 25 call between Trump and Zelensky, released by the White House on Sept. 25, quotes Trump as saying, “There’s a lot of talk about Biden’s son, that Biden stopped the prosecution and a lot of people want to find out about that so whatever you can do with the Attorney General would be great.” From the transcript Trump does not appear to pressure Zelensky or offer any quid pro quo.

Meanwhile, Trump defended his call, saying that his request for Ukraine’s assistance to look into Biden’s dealings was intended to investigate alleged corruption, not to look for information on a political opponent. In 2018, Biden boasted that he had pressured then-Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko to remove a prosecutor who was investigating a Ukrainian gas company, Burisma, where the former vice president’s son held a lucrative board position.

The White House sent a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Oct. 8, telling the House that it won’t participate in the “highly partisan and unconstitutional” inquiry.

The letter states that the inquiry runs afoul of congressional norms, and accuses the Democrats of failing to afford the president due process protections and fairness.

“You have designed and implemented your inquiry in a manner that violates fundamental fairness and constitutionally mandated due process,” the letter said.

“You have denied the President the right to cross-examine witnesses, to call witnesses, to receive transcripts of testimony, to have access to evidence, to have counsel present, and many other basic rights guaranteed to all Americans.

“You have conducted your proceedings in secret. You have violated civil liberties and the separation of powers by threatening Executive Branch officials, claiming that you will seek to punish those who exercise fundamental constitutional rights and prerogatives. All of this violates the Constitution, the rule of law, and every past precedent.”

Pelosi responded to the letter later in the day to reject the White House’s claim and accuse the president of trying to “normalize lawlessness.”

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