Democrats’ New ‘Impeachment Inquiry’ Rules Could Block Republicans from Calling Whistleblower to Testify

Adam Schiff elevator (Tom Brenner / Getty)
Tom Brenner / Getty

Republicans will be unable to call the so-called “whistleblower” to testify in the impeachment inquiry under new rules Democrats will present to the House of Representatives today.

In past impeachments, both the ranking member and the chair of the House Judiciary Committee could challenge each other’s witnesses, and the full committee would vote to resolve differences. Under the new procedures, the “impeachment inquiry” would be conducted by several committees, but primarily by the Intelligence Committee, which often meets behind closed doors.

In addition, while chairman Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) can reject witnesses proposed by the Republican minority, the ranking member of the minority cannot challenge witnesses called by the chair. Though the minority can appeal the chair’s decision to a vote by the whole committee, the Democratic majority virtually guarantees that Schiff’s veto would be upheld.

Schiff and the Democrats have gone from wanting the whistleblower to testify to arguing that he or she does not need to testify. The turning point appears to have been the discovery in early October that Schiff had lied to the public when he claimed not to have had contact with the whistleblower, who met with his staff.

Even at the House Judiciary Committee, which will consider evidence compiled by the other committees, and where Democrats claim they have provided President Donald Trump with due process rights, the majority party will have a “loophole” to reject witnesses or evidence requested by the White House, according to Roll Call on Wednesday.

On Wednesday, RealClearInvestigations claimed to have revealed the name of the so-called “whistleblower,” whom it said is Eric Ciaramella, a 33-year-old Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) analyst.

Ciaramella was a “holdover” at the White House from President Barack Obama’s administration, where he worked closely with both former Vice President Joe Biden and former CIA Director John Brennan. He is reportedly a registered Democrat with close ties to two former National Security Council staffers who have since joined the staff of Schiff’s House Intelligence Committee. And he also apparently interacted in the Obama White House with Alexandra Chalupa, who approached Ukraine in 2016 on behalf of the Democrats to ask for help digging up dirt on Republican candidate Donald Trump.

The Sixth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees the right to defendants to confront all witnesses against him or her. Though Trump is not a criminal defendant, critics of the process argue he is being denied basic rights.

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.

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