America’s top envoy to Ukraine gave testimony last week that was described as explosive in the House impeachment hearings.
Readers may be more aware of another explosive impeachment-related occurrence, that of more than a dozen House Republicans holding up proceedings when they tried to storm the closed-door hearing room.
One week later, which event sticks in your mind: a secondhand report based on closed-door testimony or a made-for-TV stunt?
Republicans, including those in Missouri’s delegation, decry the secretive nature of this impeachment process. They certainly have a point. But in reality, Democrats provide a huge gift to the GOP with hearings inside a locked room, with the president’s legal counsel nowhere to be found, with carefully selected leaks to a national press corps eager to fuel a certain version of the impeachment narrative.
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff graciously allows a single, printed transcript of every interview it conducts as part of the impeachment inquiry. Those House committee members involved in the inquiry are allowed to view the printout, in the presence of an unelected Democratic staffer. There’s been no public vote on starting an impeachment inquiry, which means there’s no vote or debate on rules established for this process.
With trust-building like this, Republicans are left nipping around the edges and attacking the process rather than debating the core issue for the inquiry. This serves no purpose, other than to save Republicans from asking uncomfortable questions about Trump’s behavior in office and to keep Democrats from enduring a case-killing, Robert Mueller-like performance from a key witness in a public hearing.
Apologists will say the process so far is similar to the Republican-led hearings on Benghazi, or that the closed room is necessary in the fact-finding stage, similar to a grand jury. But this kind of whataboutism doesn’t serve the public interest in a matter that is of the upmost importance: whether to overturn the results of a national election. Besides, grand juries have certain protections built in for the accused.
Americans already don’t trust elites and don’t listen to experts, whether in the media or science or in politics. So why not let them see with their eyes, hear with their ears and judge for themselves as the impeachment case unfolds?
The real losers in this system aren’t the Democrats, Republican or President Donald Trump. It’s the American people who get told what’s important while watching a handful of politicians square up on some peripheral, process-oriented softballs that are tossed their way.