On Wednesday Republican lawmakers briefly occupied the secure chambers of the House Intelligence Committee to complain about how the Impeachment inquiry is being conducted.
What they didn’t say was that they designed and voted for the very rules they are now complaining about.
Rules were changed in 2015 - by a Republican majority
In 2015, when Republicans controlled the House, they changed the rules to enable committee chairs to issue subpoenas without holding a committee vote first. The rules were changed explicitly to stop Democrats being able to question or criticize a public hearing before issuing subpoenas. The Wall Street Journal reported on these rule changes in 2015.
And, according to the National Memo:
“But the House rules, which McCarthy and Scalise helped enact, also allow this fact-finding portion of the impeachment inquiry to be done in private, by the relevant committees. Indeed many of the House Republicans protesting the lack of “transparency” of the secure hearings are allowed to attend them and have been participating.”
In fact, Judge Andrew Napolitano, a senior Judicial Analyst on Fox News, pointed out the same: Democrats were following the rules.
“As frustrating as it may be to have these hearings going on behind closed doors … they are consistent with the rules. … When were the rules written last? In January of 2015. And who signed them? John Boehner. And who enacted them? A Republican majority.”
Andrew Napolitano: "As frustrating as it may be to have these hearings going on behind closed doors … they are consistent with the rules. … When were the rules written last? In January of 2015. And who signed them? John Boehner. And who enacted them? A Republican majority." pic.twitter.com/Zl10ZNugf4
— Bobby Lewis (@revrrlewis) October 24, 2019
Why are the hearings being held in secret?
The New York Times explains this well:
“Because the Ukraine matter has not been investigated by federal authorities or Congress already, Democrats are trying to nail down the facts before they can determine whether to bring articles of impeachment against Mr. Trump, and what such articles should say. Think of it like a grand jury, they have said.
Holding witness interviews in private minimizes political grandstanding by lawmakers and witnesses. It allows professionally trained staff members to ask questions in extended blocks of time, rather than five-minute chunks required in public hearings. And perhaps most important to the investigation, if the testimony remains mostly private, it prevents witnesses from lining up their stories in advance.”
Also worth noting, when Republicans were mounting their investigations into Benghazi, Libya, in 2012, those hearings were also held in private. Republican weren’t complaining about the process then.
As Rep. Ted Lieu (D) from California has said: “Investigations are not public. When the investigation is done, there will be public hearings — that’s how it’s always been done.”