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 TrumpComey responds to Trump with Mariah Carey gif: 'Why are you so obsessed with me?' Congress to get election security briefing next month amid Intel drama New York man accused of making death threats against Schumer, Schiff 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) GaetzGraham: Trump has 'all the legal authority in the world' to pardon Stone Meghan McCain after Gaetz says Trump should pardon Roger Stone: 'Oh come on' Sunday shows preview: 2020 Democrats jockey for top spot ahead of Nevada caucuses 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 SchiffCongress to get election security briefing next month amid Intel drama New York man accused of making death threats against Schumer, Schiff The Hill's Morning Report — Sanders, Dems zero in on Super Tuesday 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