Nunes demands Schiff testify behind closed doors in Trump impeachment inquiry

Nunes demands Schiff testify behind closed doors in Trump impeachment inquiry
© Greg Nash

Rep. Devin NunesDevin Gerald NunesFive takeaways from ex-ambassador's dramatic testimony White House releases rough transcript of early Trump-Ukraine call minutes before impeachment hearing Live coverage: Ex-Ukraine ambassador testifies in public impeachment hearing MORE (R-Calif.), the top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, has formally requested that Rep. 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.), the chairman of the panel, privately testify as part of the House’s impeachment investigation 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.

In a letter to Schiff, which was obtained and released by Fox News, Nunes wrote that the Intelligence Committee should not be conducting a "show trial" impeachment inquiry.

ADVERTISEMENT

"On November 6th, you announced the beginning of public hearings associated with the Democratic Party's partisan impeachment inquiry into President Donald J. Trump," Nunes wrote Friday.

"Based on the precedent and lack of jurisdiction, the House Intelligence Committee should not take the lead in conducting such hearings; however, by now the American people know your desire to see the duly-elected president removed from office outweighs your sense of responsibility to running a functioning intelligence oversight committee," he continued.

"Prior to the start of your public show trial next week, at least one additional closed-door deposition must take place," he added. "Specifically, I request that you sit for a closed-door deposition before the House Intelligence, Foreign Affairs and Oversight Committees." 

Schiff has emerged as a top target for Trump’s allies on Capitol Hill, with many saying the White House has been robbed of due process. 

The House’s impeachment probe was launched in September after a whistleblower raised alarms over Trump’s dealings with Ukraine. Democrats have expressed fears that Trump leveraged $400 million in military aid to Ukraine to pressure Kiev to investigate former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenBudget official says he didn't know why military aid was delayed: report Growing 2020 field underscores Democratic divide READ: Foreign service officer Jennifer Williams' closed-door testimony from the House impeachment inquiry MORE, a chief political rival. 

Several witnesses have since testified that they believed there was a quid pro quo involved in Trump’s dealings with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Republicans have seized on the fact that Schiff was aware there was a whistleblower, with whom his staff interacted. However, Schiff has said he did not know anything about the person’s complaint prior to its filing.

"Although you publicly claim nothing inappropriate was discussed, the three committees deserve to hear directly from you the substance and circumstances surrounding any discussions conducted with the whistleblower, and any instructions you issued regarding those discussions," Nunes wrote. "Given that you have reneged on your public commitment to let the committees interview the whistleblower directly, you are the only individual who can provide clarity as to these conversations."

The letter indicates that Republicans intend to continue focusing on the investigation's process as a means of defending Trump, even as multiple witnesses expressed misgivings about Trump’s interactions with Zelensky.