Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) on Wednesday filed an ethics complaint against House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA) over his handling of closed-door impeachment proceedings targeting President Donald Trump.
Gaetz, a member of the House Judiciary Committee, accused Schiff of distorting President Donald Trump’s July 25th telephone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and barring congressional lawmakers from attending impeachment depositions. The Florida Republican also accused the House intel panel chair of “lying to the public” about now-debunked collusion between the 2016 Trump campaign and Russia. He wrote in the complaint that the California Democrat’s conduct violates House rules XI & XXIII.
-Distorting @POTUS’s call with President Zelensky
-Lying to the public about "Russian collusion”
-Blocking Members of Congress from attending impeachment depositions
Schiff must be held accountable. pic.twitter.com/oUIGWx2Lns
— Rep. Matt Gaetz (@RepMattGaetz) October 30, 2019
“Nancy Pelosi’s impeachment resolution gives unprecedented power to the intelligence committee chairman, Adam Schiff, and that’s deeply troubling,” Gaetz told reporters ahead of filing the complaint. “Schiff has proven in this process that he cannot adhere to the fundamental principles of fairness.”
The development comes after House Democrats on Tuesday released the text of a resolution they plan to vote on later this week to formalize impeachment inquiry procedures.
The document gives Schiff the lead role in the investigation, giving him power to organize the questioning of witnesses. The committee will take over the probe, which until now has been handled by three committees, including intelligence, foreign affairs, and oversight and reform.
Pelosi said the resolution was not legally necessary but the House decided to take the vote “to eliminate any doubt as to whether the Trump administration may withhold documents, prevent witness testimony, disregard duly authorized subpoenas, or continue obstructing the House of Representatives.”
“For weeks the president, his counsel in the White House and his allies in Congress have made the baseless claim that the House of Representatives’ impeachment inquiry ‘lacks the necessary authorization for a valid impeachment proceeding.’ They argue that, because the House has not taken a vote, they may simply pretend the impeachment inquiry does not exist,” she wrote.
White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham responded to the text’s release by calling the impeachment probe a “sham.”
“The White House is barred from participating at all, until after Chairman Schiff conducts two rounds of one-sided hearings to generate a biased report for the judiciary committee. Even then, the White House’s rights remain undefined, unclear and uncertain — because those rules still haven’t been written,” Grisham said in a statement.
Pelosi’s announcement came after weeks of pressure on Schiff (D-CA) from Republicans to bring transparency to the impeachment inquiry.
Schiff’s intel panel has interviewed several current and former Trump administration officials inside Capitol Hill’s SCIF room, known as a sensitive compartmented information facility. Republicans charge Schiff has no basis to use the secret room for interviews and have accused the California Democrat and his colleagues of selectively leaking excerpts of witnesses’ testimony to reporters. Last Wednesday, nearly 30 House Republicans attempted to storm the chamber as Laura Cooper, a top Pentagon official, was slated to testify.
Earlier this month, 185 House Republicans voted to condemn and censure Schiff over his handling of the impeachment probe.
The UPI contributed to this report.