On Wednesday, 13 House Republicans barged into a meeting of the House Intelligence Committee to protest the committee’s ongoing impeachment probe.
Among the Republicans participating in what was nothing more than a publicity stunt were Rep. Mo Brooks of Huntsville and Rep. Bradley Byrne of Fairhope. Brooks has never shied away from attention, and was on CNN shortly afterward shouting about the Democrats’ “sham” investigation while ignoring the reporter’s questions about the substance of the accusations against President Donald Trump.
Byrne took to Twitter.
“Adam Schiff just SHUT DOWN his secret underground impeachment hearing after I led a group of Republicans into the room. Now he’s threatening me with an Ethics complaint! I’m on the Armed Services Cmte but being blocked from the Dept. Asst. SecDef’s testimony. This is a SHAM!”
Schiff, D-California, is chairman of the House Intelligence Committee.
The 13 Republicans make a big deal about the “secret underground impeachment hearing,” but what they fail to mention is the 47 Republicans who are actually part of the hearing.
On Thursday, Byrne tweeted again, saying “Adam Schiff and his cabal are conducting secret hearings in the bowels of the Capitol, violating House precedent & withholding non-classified information.”
This is simply false, except that the committee chamber in question is in the “bowels” of the Capitol, which is meant to sound sinister. In fact, the precedent has already been set, under rules approved by former Republican House Speaker John Boehner and enacted by the Republican majority.
In short, the Democrats are operating under the same rules the Republicans were when the Republicans were investigating Benghazi in an attempt to turn what was, admittedly, a policy disaster into a political scandal.
Back then, the Republican committee Chairman, Trey Gowdy was all in favor of private witness interviews. “The private ones always produce better results,” he said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” in October 2015.
Unfortunately, we can probably look forward to more stunts from the House minority as the House leadership moves forward with its impeachment inquiry.
Byrne, for one, is running for U.S. Senate in a GOP primary race in which the main issue so far has been “how loyal are you to Trump?”
These theatrics don’t change the fact, however, that a lot of damning evidence is emerging from these hearings.
Wednesday’s storming of the committee hearing didn’t stop the hearing. It simply delayed it.
Right now, however, the focus is mostly on the previous day’s testimony by acting Ambassador William Taylor, who said the Trump administration was threatening to withhold military aid to Ukraine unless Ukraine’s leaders investigated Hunter Biden, the son of former Vice President Joe Biden.
Taylor is not some far-out Democratic partisan. He was appointed acting ambassador by Trump’s Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
The House impeachment inquiry is serious hearings by serious people dealing with serious issues — under rules enacted by the previous Republican majority.
The House Republicans who barged into the closed hearing Wednesday made a mockery of the proceedings. They should be embarrassed.