Byron York wrote in the Washington Examiner on Saturday that Democrats are using a secret impeachment process to create a narrative that leaves out contradictory facts and prevents Republicans from presenting any real defense.
York noted that Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee, chaired by Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), are using the same tacit they used in 2017 to silence then-chair Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) with a phony ethics investigation. They are having witnesses testify in deposition, rather than in public or by transcription, which invokes ethics rules that prevent members from sharing any details publicly. Democrats then leak selective bits of testimony — and any Republicans who dare respond risk an ethics investigation that will silence them and damage them politically.
Friday’s interview of Marie Yovanovitch, the former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, marked a new point — a low point, as Republicans see it — in Democratic efforts to keep impeachment information out of public view.
The Yovanovitch session was different. Democrats conducted the interview in the format of a deposition, which is different from a transcribed interview. One key difference is that there are serious penalties for lawmakers who reveal the contents of a deposition. Doing so would almost surely subject the offending member to a House ethics investigation.
Here is the clever part, from the Democratic perspective. As the Yovanovitch interview began, her 10-page opening statement quickly leaked. In it, Yovanovitch made her case for all the press to read.
Yovanovitch is known to have testified that President Trump relieved her of her post, and that he did so because of what she says is misleading information from sources with their own agendas. But no one knows if that claim has anything to do with the president’s July 25 phone call with the president of Ukraine. Nor does anyone know if the reason for which she was ostensibly fired — namely, that she was bad-mouthing Trump abroad — is actually true.
As York concludes:
In his much-criticized letter to Congress, White House counsel Pat Cipollone said Democratic handling of the impeachment investigation “violates fundamental fairness.” He meant fairness toward the target of the proceeding, President Trump. But there is also the question of fairness toward the American people trying to follow an impeachment process shrouded in secrecy. Don’t they have the right to know what the president’s accusers say?
Read York’s full column in the Washington Examiner here.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He earned an A.B. in Social Studies and Environmental Science and Public Policy from Harvard College, and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. He is also the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, which is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.