Gingrich calls impeachment process a 'despicable violation of the American Constitution'

Former Speaker Newt GingrichNewton (Newt) Leroy GingrichMORE (R-Ga.) on Friday ripped House Democrats' impeachment inquiry into President TrumpDonald John TrumpGOP divided over impeachment trial strategy Official testifies that Bolton had 'one-on-one meeting' with Trump over Ukraine aid Louisiana governor wins re-election MORE, calling it a “despicable violation of the American Constitution.”

Gingrich in an interview with Hill.TV took issue with the way Democrats have handled the inquiry, questioning why much of it so far has been conducted behind closed doors and knocking Democrats for limiting members' access to transcripts.

“This is such a one-sided, dishonest and corrupt process that’s astonishing,” said Gingrich, who served as House Speaker in the 1990s and was a vocal advocate for President Clinton's impeachment.

The conservative figure accused Democrats of "holding secret hearings" without representation from the president's legal team and "with all the records being kept by the Democrats — the Republicans can’t take anything out of the room.”

Multiple House committees have conducted closed-door depositions with Trump administration officials as part of their inquiry, prompting outrage from the president and his Republican allies over what they view as a lack of transparency in the process.

A group of House Republicans led by Rep. Matt GaetzMatthew (Matt) GaetzGaetz wants woman who threw drink at him to serve time Schiff told Gaetz to 'absent yourself' in fiery exchange: impeachment transcript Do Republicans understand the Constitution? MORE (R-Fla.) on Wednesday barged into a secure hearing room in the Capitol basement and disrupted a closed-door testimony in protest of the handling of the inquiry.

The Republican lawmakers delayed the House deposition with Laura Cooper, a top Pentagon official who oversees U.S. policies towards Ukraine, by almost five hours as a result. 

Gaetz defended the move following criticism, telling Fox News that Republicans had the "audacity to want to know what in the world is going on behind closed doors."

Meanwhile, Democrats have pointed out that, under House rules, closed-door depositions are limited to Republican and Democrats of the three committees leading the investigation, which include the Intelligence, Oversight and Reform, and Foreign Affairs.

Democrats have defended their handling of the impeachment probe so far.

Earlier this month, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffGOP divided over impeachment trial strategy READ: Top NSC aide Tim Morrison's closed-door impeachment inquiry testimony Top NSC aide puts Sondland at front lines of Ukraine campaign, speaking for Trump MORE (D-Calif.) maintained that closed-door testimonies do not break with historic precedent, noting that special counsels in the Nixon and Clinton impeachments were investigated privately. He also stated that the House committees will eventually make transcripts related to the impeachment inquiry depositions public. 

—Tess Bonn