House Intelligence Committee chair Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) has yet to release the transcript of the closed-door testimony of former National Security Council senior director for European and Russian affairs Tim Morrison — just two days before public hearings begin.
Morrison’s testimony is considered the most favorable to President Donald Trump, after he reportedly told the committee in late October: “I was not concerned that anything illegal was discussed.” Morrison also reportedly said that Ukraine was not aware of any hold on U.S. aid until Politico reported it on August 28, 2019.
Though Republicans also say many other statements by witnesses have been exculpatory, they have said Morrison’s was particularly so. Democrats were “sucking lemons” after Morrison’s testimony, Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC) said.
Republicans have asked that Morrison be called to testify in public — a request that Schiff has not yet approved. Under the House resolution rules, Schiff can block Republican witnesses, but they cannot block his. The rule are a departure from past precedent, in which each side could veto each other’s witnesses, subject to committee vote.
Schiff has kept the transcripts under lock and key — even after House Democrats passed a resolution authorizing an impeachment inquiry, which provided for at least one public hearing and allowed transcripts to be released.
Transcripts have been in the exclusive possession of committee Democrats and their staff, and Republicans say that they are not allowed to review transcripts except in a secure room and in the presence of a Democratic staffer.
Democrats have given themselves time to pore over the transcripts — each of which runs hundreds of pages of long — and to cherry-pick the quotes they consider most favorable to their case, or most embarrassing to the president. They present these quotes as a “summary” of what was said — excluding quotes that include exculpatory evidence.
The media use the Democrats’ summaries to construct their news stories before any of them — much less Republicans — have had an opportunity to digest the lengthy testimonial records. Partly as a result, the media narrative is driven by pro-impeachment arguments. Republicans say Democrats are deliberately trying to drum up public support for impeachment before Americans have seen all of the relevant evidence.
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.