House Republicans on Judiciary strategize ahead of Wednesday's impeachment hearing

House Republicans on Judiciary strategize ahead of Wednesday's impeachment hearing
© Greg Nash

GOP lawmakers on the House Judiciary Committee, and other key Republicans in the lower chamber, emerged from a strategy meeting in the Capitol basement Tuesday expressing confidence in their readiness for Wednesday’s impeachment hearing. 

As the impeachment inquiry moves into its third phase — transitioning from the House Intelligence Committee to the Judiciary Committee —  Republicans said they feel they are in a better position than Democrats to control the narrative, with some casting doubt on whether Judiciary Chairman Jerrold NadlerJerrold (Jerry) Lewis NadlerMcConnell locks in schedule for start of impeachment trial Pelosi: Trump's impeachment 'cannot be erased' House to vote Wednesday on sending articles of impeachment to Senate MORE (D-N.Y.) can be as effective as House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffREAD: House impeachment managers' trial brief Sunday shows preview: Lawmakers gear up for Senate impeachment trial Parnas pressure grows on Senate GOP MORE (D-Calif.) in presenting Democrats’ case against President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump's newest Russia adviser, Andrew Peek, leaves post: report Hawley expects McConnell's final impeachment resolution to give White House defense ability to motion to dismiss Trump rips New York City sea wall: 'Costly, foolish' and 'environmentally unfriendly idea' MORE

“I have seen this as Schiff’s pet project or his baby that he's walking through, something that started with his team before there was even a whistleblower's complaint. And from that early in the timeline to now, it's been his,” Rep. Lee ZeldinLee ZeldinBoth sides of the aisle call for local, state, federal cooperation on homelessness Trump tweets American flag amid reports of strike against Iranian general House votes to temporarily repeal Trump SALT deduction cap MORE (R-N.Y.) told reporters. 

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“And I don't know if there's any other Democrat in the House of Representatives who is able to even try to replicate what is going on inside of Schiff's head — he has knowledge that he clearly hasn't shared with his colleagues.” 

Zeldin — who does not sit on the Judiciary Committee but has played a leading role in defending the president since Democrats launched the probe — attended Tuesday’s strategy meeting along with House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin Owen McCarthyCalifornia sues Trump administration over fracking Trump: Impeachment timing intended to hurt Sanders Overnight Energy: Schumer votes against USMCA, citing climate impact | Republicans offer details on their environmental proposals | Microsoft aims to be carbon negative by 2030 MORE (R-Calif.) and Rep. Mark MeadowsMark Randall MeadowsRepublicans criticize Pelosi for gifting pens used to sign impeachment articles Trump, Democrats set for brawl on Iran war powers Overnight Defense: Iran crisis eases as Trump says Tehran 'standing down' | Dems unconvinced on evidence behind Soleimani strike | House sets Thursday vote on Iran war powers MORE (R-N.C.) to help their colleagues on the panel prepare. 

House Judiciary ranking member Doug CollinsDouglas (Doug) Allen CollinsThe five dumbest things said about impeachment so far Pelosi accepts Collins's apology for saying Democrats are 'in love with terrorists' Trump's legal team gets set for impeachment trial MORE (R-Ga.) characterized Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiREAD: House impeachment managers' trial brief Desperate Democrats badmouth economy even as it booms Pelosi offers message to Trump on Bill Maher show: 'You are impeached forever' MORE (D-Calif.) selecting Schiff over Nadler to lead the initial impeachment inquiry efforts as an attempt for Pelosi and Schiff to “completely control the narrative.”

"The thing is, we're bringing it back to the committee where it should have been all along,” he said. 

Attacking Schiff’s handling of the probe is expected to be a key component in Republicans’ strategy during the Judiciary hearings. Members are gearing up to blast the California Democrat for having a staff counsel present the Intelligence Committee’s report laying out their findings in their probe into Trump’s dealings with Ukraine — which was released Tuesday afternoon — instead of the chairman appearing before the committee. 

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"To me, Adam Schiff not presenting this report challenges the veracity of the entire report, the entire process. It tells me that he very much likes to hide behind the gavel and hide behind the story, but doesn't want to defend his report," Collins continued.

"And there's no reason, because he's compared himself to a special counsel — Ken Starr came and testified, took questions from everyone including President Clinton's attorney. I mean, is Adam Schiff better than that?"

Rep. Mike JohnsonJames (Mike) Michael JohnsonFive lingering questions as impeachment heads to Senate Figures to watch as White House mounts impeachment defense Trump's GOP allies huddle at White House on eve of impeachment vote MORE (R-La.) slammed Democrats on the committee for calling in four constitutional law experts as its witnesses for the first hearing held before the panel, but said Republicans have made sure they are prepared for Wednesday. 

“Most of us have very little interest in academic exercises. We've already heard from law professors. Most of us are attorneys; we understand very well that this law is not complex. We don't need a primer on constitutional law,” he said. “What we wish this was was a true inquiry into the facts, and we're being denied that.” 

Just ahead of the Tuesday afternoon meeting, Collins, Meadows, and Reps. Jim JordanJames (Jim) Daniel JordanSunday shows preview: Lawmakers gear up for Senate impeachment trial Trump's legal team gets set for impeachment trial Five lingering questions as impeachment heads to Senate MORE (R-Ohio) and John RatcliffeJohn Lee RatcliffeTrump's legal team gets set for impeachment trial Five lingering questions as impeachment heads to Senate Graham: Not 'wise' for House Republicans to serve on Trump trial team MORE (R-Texas) huddled with Vice President Pence to discuss the hearing. 

“It was just encouraging to talk to him [Pence] and, you know," Collins said. “And of course they're watching it as we go forward.”