House Democrat impeachment investigators are reportedly considering holding public hearings before Thanksgiving after weeks of Republican pressure to open the process.
So far, House Democrats pursuing the impeachment inquiry have refused to make the process public, prompting rebukes from Republicans. GOP lawmakers have also blasted Democrats for not releasing the transcripts of testimony from witnesses who gave their depositions in private.
House Democrats are considering opening the impeachment hearings to the public before Thanksgiving, CNN reported Tuesday.
House Democrats are discussing a time frame that would include public impeachment hearings before Thanksgiving and votes on whether to impeach Trump by Christmas, according to multiple Democratic sources.
But Pelosi did not put a time frame on it at a closed-door leadership meeting on Monday to discuss the resolution and she has been hesitant to do so, as the timing is subject to change depending on how witnesses cooperate or if additional leads come up, according to multiple Democrats.
Still, the working theory among Democrats is there will be another week or two of closed depositions, and that public hearings before the House Intelligence Committee could begin as soon as the second week in November when Congress returns from a one-week recess.
“The commencement of public hearings before Thanksgiving is a reasonable objective—as it’s important for Americans to begin seeing the evidence as soon as possible,” Rep. Dean Phillips (D-MN) recently said, according to the Wall Street Journal.
It remains unclear when, if ever, the Democrats will release the transcripts of the witness testimonies behind closed doors. Some Republicans have said some of those testimonies exonerate President Donald Trump from any wrongdoing.
On Tuesday, the House Democrat leaders introduced an eight-page impeachment inquiry resolution — likely to be voted on this week — that calls for public hearings.
The resolution also authorizes Democrat leaders “to make publicly available in electronic form the transcripts of depositions.” It appears that the measure leaves it up Democrats to decide which transcripts to release.
Some Republicans have described the Democrats’ sudden change of heart on making the hearings public as a capitulation to GOP criticism that the secret impeachment inquiry process is “illegitimate” and unfair.
Democrats reportedly insist the upcoming impeachment inquiry vote this week is not a formal authorization of the probe, but it still signals they are moving forward with the inquiry despite the refusal of several Trump administration witnesses to testify.
Earlier this month, Schiff said he would hold public hearings, but would not say when.
He compared the impeachment probe to a “grand jury,” but ultimately acknowledged that the analogy is “imperfect.”
“It is a political process, and there are good reasons that part of that process should be conducted in the public eye,” he said on October 14.