Judiciary members battle over whether GOP treated fairly in impeachment hearings

Judiciary members battle over whether GOP treated fairly in impeachment hearings
© Greg Nash

Members of the House Judiciary Committee on Thursday debated questions of whether Republicans had been treated fairly by the majority during the impeachment inquiry into President TrumpDonald John TrumpNew Biden campaign ad jabs at Trump's reported 0 income tax payments Ocasio-Cortez: Trump contributed less in taxes 'than waitresses and undocumented immigrants' Third judge orders Postal Service to halt delivery cuts MORE, zeroing in on a debate around process.

The debate over Republican treatment kicked off early in the hearing on Thursday, when committee ranking member Doug CollinsDouglas (Doug) Allen CollinsDemocrats ramp up pressure on Lieberman to drop out of Georgia Senate race The Hill's Campaign Report: Biden on Trump: 'He'll leave' l GOP laywers brush off Trump's election remarks l Obama's endorsements GOP, Democrats look to galvanize women with SCOTUS fight MORE (R-Ga.) brought up a point of order on scheduling a “minority day of hearings” to allow Republicans to question witnesses they wanted to hear from.

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Committee Chairman Jerrold NadlerJerrold (Jerry) Lewis NadlerDemocrats shoot down talk of expanding Supreme Court Schumer: '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 MORE (D-N.Y.) ruled against Collins’s request to schedule the minority hearing day during the markup of articles of impeachment, with Republicans strongly objecting to this on the grounds of ensuring the process was fair.

Rep. Debbie Lesko (R-Ariz.) said that she was “disturbed” by Nadler’s ruling, pointing to a House rule that set standards for the impeachment process as requiring Democrats to schedule a minority day of hearings.

“The rules have been thrown out the window here on this process, I just can’t believe it,” Lesko said, pointing also to the Judiciary Committee not questioning any of the “fact witnesses” that testified before the House Intelligence Committee and instead questioning legal experts.

“It just continues to amaze me how corrupt, how unfair this process has been from the start,” Lesko said. “This is a sham impeachment, and it sure is a shame.”

Lesko also took issue with the House Judiciary Committee not being as involved in the impeachment process around President Trump than it was in previous impeachment efforts against former Presidents Nixon and Clinton.

Democrats hit back against this, with Rep. Zoe LofgrenZoe Ellen LofgrenBusiness groups start gaming out a Biden administration Top Democrats call for DOJ watchdog to probe Barr over possible 2020 election influence DHS opens probe into allegations at Georgia ICE facility MORE (D-Calif.) noting that a special Senate investigative committee examined evidence during the Nixon impeachment inquiry and Rep. Joseph Neguse (D-Colo.) saying that the House Judiciary Committee did not examine fact witnesses during the Clinton impeachment inquiry.

Neguse also criticized Republicans for taking issue with the process and largely not addressing Trump’s conduct.

“I have heard very little of any substantive defenses of the president’s conduct, but focus again on some very farcical process arguments in my view,” Neguse said, adding that hoped Republicans would “dispense with these process arguments and get to the substance of why we are here today.”

Republican concerns around the impeachment inquiry process have been a major issue since the beginning of the closed-doors impeachment inquiry interviews earlier this year, with Republicans taking issue with members not on specific committees being kept out of the initial interviews.

The lack of a minority day of hearings has also been a key issue for Republicans on both the House Judiciary and Intelligence Committees.

“The key is all of the denials of the minority requests,” Rep. Jim SensenbrennerFrank (Jim) James SensenbrennerRepublicans call for Judiciary hearing into unrest in cities run by Democrats Scott Fitzgerald wins Wisconsin GOP primary to replace Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner Hillicon Valley: House panel grills tech CEOs during much anticipated antitrust hearing | TikTok to make code public as it pushes back against 'misinformation' | House Intel panel expands access to foreign disinformation evidence MORE (R-Wis.) said during the markup. “The Republicans and the president have not been able to put on live witnesses to basically put together a defense.”