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Thursday, October 24, 2019
Theater of the Absurd, or Donald Trump's Republicans?
If they're riding on his coattails, they are swinging wildly!
Opinion piece by David Leonhardt NYTimes
The House committees conducting the
impeachment inquiry into President Trump have both Democratic and
That fact seems difficult for some people
to comprehend, so I’ll repeat it with some italics: The House committees
conducting the impeachment inquiry into President Trump have both Democratic and Republican members.
The stunt that House Republicans pulled
yesterday — storming a secure room in Congress, where sensitive national
security matters are discussed, in order to halt an investigative hearing
— was based on a falsehood. The Republicans claimed they were fed up with
being shut out of the investigation. But they are not being shut out.
As Politico put it: “More than 45 House
Republicans — nearly a quarter of the House G.O.P. conference — already
have full access to the depositions through their membership on one of
the three panels leading the impeachment inquiry.” (The three are the
Intelligence, Oversight and Foreign Affairs Committees.)
Even some of the Republicans who stormed
the room yesterday already had access, as Ursula Perano of Axios noted: “13 of the
41 Republican lawmakers who stormed a closed-door hearing Wednesday to
protest an alleged lack of transparency in the impeachment inquiry sit on
committees with the power to question witnesses and review documents.”
So why are so many House Republicans
claiming otherwise — and why did a few of them jeopardize national
security by smuggling phones into the hearing room? Because they
understand that the emerging evidence is extremely damaging to Trump.
They’ve decided that they would rather try to protect him than exercise
their constitutional duty as members of an equally powerful branch of
It’s a sad and worrisome spectacle. But I
don’t think it is likely to succeed in the end. Adam Schiff, the House
Democrat leading the inquiry, has made clear that this phase of the
investigation is happening behind close doors because that’s where all
serious investigations are initially conducted. But Congress is
eventually going to hold hearings where witnesses will testify publicly.
When that happens, Trump’s enablers are
going to need to come up with a better excuse than the one they tried
post from The Hill:
House chairman asks sergeant-at-arms to 'take action' after Republicans bring electronics to secure hearing
The chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee on Wednesday asked the top congressional law enforcement official to "take action" in response to GOP lawmakers bringing electronic devices to a secure facility while disrupting the deposition of a witness in the impeachment inquiry.
In a letter to Sergeant-at-Arms Paul Irving, House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) said that Republicans’ decision to bring cell-phones into the room, known as a sensitive compartmented information facility (SCIF), violated security protocols established by the intelligence community to protect classified information.
"This unprecedented breach of security raises serious concerns for committee chairman, including me, responsible for maintaining SCIFs," Thompson wrote.
Thompson asked Irving to make unspecified moves to make the security protocol clear to all House members.
"As such, I am requesting you take action with respect to the members involved in the breach. More broadly, I urge you to take House-wide action to remind all members about the dangers of such reckless action and the potential national security risks of such behavior," Thompson wrote.
Lawmakers typically use the SCIF to discuss sensitive information in a facility that is designed to be protected from foreign surveillance.
Impeachment inquiry witness depositions have been taking place in the SCIF, which is located two levels below the basement in the Capitol Visitor Center.
At least 30 House Republicans entered the SCIF on Wednesday morning to demand access to the witness depositions, which are currently restricted to members of the House Intelligence, Foreign Affairs, and Oversight and Reform committees leading the impeachment inquiry.
Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), a member of the House Oversight and Reform Committee, said that he collected lawmakers' phones and brought them outside the room in adherence with protocol.
"You certainly want a secure environment, but at the same time I think everybody wants to hear exactly what's going on," Meadows told reporters.
A number of House Republicans who entered the SCIF sent tweets from their official accounts while still in the facility, though some later clarified that the tweets were sent by staff.
Rep. Alex Mooney (R-W.Va.) shared audio of a phone call "live from the SCIF," but he clarified that he was making a call from a secure line inside the facility because lawmakers had to hand over their cellphones.