October 24, 2019 - Thursday
A Month of Impeachment Secrecy
October 24, 2019
One month ago today, Speaker Nancy Pelosi became the first speaker in U.S. history to launch an impeachment inquiry without first holding a vote in the House. With members of her own caucus sweating bullets over impeachment, Pelosi shielded them from the public scrutiny of a floor vote. And so it was born, the most secretive impeachment process this country has ever seen.
Since then, the House Intelligence Committee has heard many hours of testimony but virtually all of it has been held in secret, even though the testimony is not about classified information. The media has done little to note the secretive nature of this process; instead resorting to reporting anonymous sources and leaks. But yesterday, the Democrats' closed-door strategy finally began making headlines thanks to a group of thirty Republican House Members who finally had enough and did something about it. They marched to the House Intelligence Committee and, in the words of Rep. Russ Fulcher (R-Idaho), who joined me on yesterday's edition of Washington Watch, objected to the "secrecy by which these hearings were being conducted."
Rep. Fulcher explained that the hearings are being held in a secured room, only members of the committee are allowed to attend, transcripts cannot be released, and members are prohibited from talking about the hearing testimony. Why the secrecy if they are expecting all Members of Congress to cast an informed vote on impeachment? When the thirty members showed up at the hearing, Rep. Fulcher noted that "we were greeted by security and they said, no, you can't enter. And we actually said, you know what? We're members of this body and we're going to vote on the content of what's being discussed in here. It's non-classified. Yes, we can. And so we just walked past them and we went in. Upon the entry, Mr. Schiff stood up, took his witness and left."
There are some classified briefings which only members of those committees can join and then there are regular, non-classified hearings. Any member of Congress can generally walk into the committee room and listen to the testimony. Again, this was not a classified hearing. My observation is that the House Democrats want to be able to control the spin of what happens in these hearings. The little that has been open to the public has been an embarrassment for House Democrats, and they know it. Remember when House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff infamously read a fabricated transcript of President Trump's phone call with Ukraine's president? This impeachment process may be the most secretive ever, but it has revealed one thing: congressional Democrats will manufacture their own truth no matter what -- even if it means discarding the whole concept of transparency and fairness.
Tony Perkins's Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC Action senior writers.