Trump confronts limits of his impeachment defense strategy

Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, one of President Donald Trump's chief GOP allies, says he will introduce a resolution condemning the Democratic-controlled House for pursuing a "closed door, illegitimate impeachment inquiry," during a news conference at the Capitol in Washington,Thursday, Oct. 24, 2019. The non-binding resolution by the Senate Judiciary Committee chairman gives Senate Republicans a chance to show support for the president at a moment when Trump is urging his allies to get tougher and fight harder for him.

Missouri’s two U.S. senators appear to be singing from the same hymnal when it comes to the impeachment inquiry taking place down the hall, and down the stairs, at the Capitol.

The Republican lawmakers, Roy Blunt and Josh Hawley, have spoken this week about the process being used by members of the U.S. House in compiling information about President Donald Trump’s alleged offenses in office.

Neither of the Missourians is impressed.

“We have a process that’s going on in secret,” Blunt, the senior senator, said. “We have selective leaking without much material coming out.”

Hawley, a freshman in the Senate, said, “I think it’s a circus. I think it’s a farce.”

The senators joined a chorus of fellow Republicans questioning the procedures being used in the House-led investigation. They say fairness and transparency have been sacrificed as the Democratic-majority chamber builds a case against the president.

On Wednesday, more than two dozen House Republicans entered a closed-door hearing as a demonstration of their objections to the procedures being used.

The hearing, open to members of the respective Intelligence, Oversight and Foreign Affairs committees, Democrats and Republicans, came to a halt for five hours, then continued later in the day.

If the House eventually produces articles of impeachment, the Republican-majority Senate will sit in judgment of Trump. Blunt, a former history teacher, cited the nation’s founders when attending a press conference with other Republican Senate leaders this week.

“In the early Federalist Papers, looking at impeachment, they understood that impeachment was a very vaguely defined thing in the Constitution, and because of that they said that impeachment has to be public,” he said. “It can’t be entrusted to just a few people.”

In an interview with the News-Press this week, Hawley said the House process has strayed from standards established in previous impeachments.

“They won’t allow the president’s counsel to be there. President Clinton got to have counsel involved in the proceedings. That’s the norm. Democrats won’t allow that,” he said from Washington. “They won’t even take a vote to start the proceedings.”

Hawley added, “I think it shows they are not interested in the facts, they’re not interested in figuring out what’s going on. They just want to punish this president. Unfortunately, they’re willing to punish the country to do it.”

North Missouri Congressman Sam Graves, not a member of any of the investigating committees, said that partisan motivations pervade the process.

“If we’re going to have a transparent process, first of all, let’s vote on it. Let’s have a vote to open an inquiry,” Graves told KHQA TV this week. “This gives credence to the idea that this is all political and they’re coming after him.”

Ken Newton can be reached at ken.newton@newspressnow.com. Follow him on Twitter: @SJNPNewton.