House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA) is likening his closed-door impeachment inquiry of President Trump to a “grand jury” despite it not being a criminal trial.
Schiff was asked when he would hold public hearings on CBS News’s Face the Nation on Sunday. He indicated he wanted to prevent Republicans from defending the president and compared the inquiry to a “grand jury”:
The Republicans would like nothing better because they view their role as defending the president, being the president’s lawyers. If witnesses could tailor their testimony to other witnesses. They would love for one witness to be able to hear what another witness says so that they can know what they can give away and what they can’t give away.
There’s a reason why investigations and grand jury proceedings for example, and I think this is analogous to a grand jury proceeding, are done out of the public view initially. Now we may very well call some of the same witnesses or all the same witnesses in public hearings as well. But we want to make sure that we meet the needs of the investigation and not give the president or his legal minions the opportunity to tailor their testimony and in some cases fabricate testimony to suit their interests.
Schiff’s comments prompted a scathing Wall Street Journal editorial on Monday. It said:
A grand jury? As Mr. Schiff knows, a grand jury is a criminal proceeding. Impeachment is a political process in which the House defines the meaning of ‘high crimes and misdemeanors.’ Mr. Schiff wants it both ways: Run his secret hearings like a criminal grand jury, but then impeach Mr. Trump of political offenses even if the President committed no crime.
And he wants to keep it all secret so Mr. Trump and his ‘legal minions’—i.e., his lawyers and the House minority—don’t have access to the evidence he will use against the President. Oh, and he says contrary evidence will be fabricated—an accusation of a crime in advance but with no evidence. With his every statement and action, Mr. Schiff is making Mr. Trump’s case that this impeachment is a rigged game.
On Monday, Schiff kicked out Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), a member of the Judiciary Committee, from attending a closed-door impeachment inquiry hearing with former senior National Security Council official Fiona Hill.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) directed the House Intelligence, Oversight, and Foreign Affairs Committees to run the impeachment inquiry instead of the House Judiciary Committee, although Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-NY) had initially began so-called formal impeachment proceedings.
Gaetz told Breitbart News on Monday that Pelosi did so to exclude some of the president’s top supporters on the Judiciary Committee, but also because Nadler was not producing results.
“Nancy Pelosi has chosen to reshuffle the legislative deck because her Democrats were getting worked silly on the Judiciary Committee following the Lewandowski hearing, the John Dean hearing, it really was not a forum that fielded results for Democrats,” he said recalling previous hearings with witnesses Corey Lewandowski and former Nixon counsel John Dean.
“But just because you don’t like the outcome doesn’t mean that the Speaker and the Democrat leadership should be excluding members who want to participate in a process that could ultimately overturn an election,” Gaetz said.
The WSJ editorial said Schiff’s handling of the impeachment inquiry made it difficult for the public to discern the truth:
Mrs. Pelosi took the impeachment reins away from Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler and handed them to Mr. Schiff, who has been running secret hearings as Chairman of the Intelligence Committee. Witnesses testify behind closed doors, and Democrats selectively leak the testimony or evidence to the pro-impeachment press in ways that are often distorted or incomplete.
“Republicans then offer a competing narrative, and the public is left to wonder what’s true. All of this is supposedly in service to the serious purpose of removing a President elected by 63 million Americans,” it said.
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