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 NadlerSchumer: 'Nothing is off the table' if GOP moves forward with Ginsburg replacement Top Democrats call for DOJ watchdog to probe Barr over possible 2020 election influence House passes bill to protect pregnant workers MORE (D-N.Y.) can be as effective as House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffTop Democrats call for DOJ watchdog to probe Barr over possible 2020 election influence Overnight Defense: Top admiral says 'no condition' where US should conduct nuclear test 'at this time' | Intelligence chief says Congress will get some in-person election security briefings Overnight Defense: House to vote on military justice bill spurred by Vanessa Guillén death | Biden courts veterans after Trump's military controversies MORE (D-Calif.) in presenting Democrats’ case against President TrumpDonald John TrumpUS reimposes UN sanctions on Iran amid increasing tensions Jeff Flake: Republicans 'should hold the same position' on SCOTUS vacancy as 2016 Trump supporters chant 'Fill that seat' at North Carolina rally 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 ZeldinDCCC reserves new ad buys in competitive districts, adds new members to 'Red to Blue' program Overnight Defense: House panel probes Pompeo's convention speech | UN council rejects US demand to restore Iran sanctions | Court rules against Pentagon policy slowing expedited citizenship The Hill's 12:30 Report: Republicans conduct in-person convention roll call 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 McCarthyTrump asked Chamber of Commerce to reconsider Democratic endorsements: report The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by The Air Line Pilots Association - White House moves closer to Pelosi on virus relief bill Trump's sharp words put CDC director on hot seat MORE (R-Calif.) and Rep. Mark MeadowsMark Randall MeadowsTrump reacts to Ginsburg's death: 'An amazing woman who led an amazing life' Trump carries on with rally, unaware of Ginsburg's death United Airlines, unions call for six-month extension of government aid MORE (R-N.C.) to help their colleagues on the panel prepare. 

House Judiciary ranking member Doug CollinsDouglas (Doug) Allen CollinsVulnerable GOP incumbents embrace filling Supreme Court seat this year Georgia GOP Senate candidates cite abortion in pushing Ginsburg replacement Win by QAnon believer creates new headaches for House GOP MORE (R-Ga.) characterized Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiSunday shows preview: Justice Ginsburg dies, sparking partisan battle over vacancy before election Trump is betting big on the suburbs, but his strategy is failing 'bigly' Trump orders flags at half-staff to honor 'trailblazer' Ginsburg 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 JohnsonLWCF modernization: Restoring the promise Mike Johnson to run for vice chairman of House GOP conference Republicans call for Judiciary hearing into unrest in cities run by Democrats 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: Justice Ginsburg dies, sparking partisan battle over vacancy before election House passes resolution condemning anti-Asian discrimination relating to coronavirus Republicans call for Judiciary hearing into unrest in cities run by Democrats MORE (R-Ohio) and John RatcliffeJohn Lee RatcliffeOvernight Defense: Top admiral says 'no condition' where US should conduct nuclear test 'at this time' | Intelligence chief says Congress will get some in-person election security briefings FBI chief says Russia is trying to interfere in election to undermine Biden The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by The Air Line Pilots Association - Trump contradicts CDC director on vaccine, masks 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.”