Apparently yielding to pressure from the GOP, House Democrats have introduced a resolution to formalize their impeachment inquiry and adopt rules to govern the proceedings. The resolution comes after sustained complaints by congressional Republicans and the White House that the inquiry hasn’t followed past precedent and violates the president’s due process rights.
But, illustrating the balancing act involved as the 2020 election cycle gets started, Democrats have adamantly denied that the document is an “impeachment resolution,” perhaps out of concern for how that label would play in more moderate swing districts.
The resolution directs the House Intelligence, Foreign Affairs, Financial Services, Judiciary, and Ways and Means Committees to “continue their ongoing investigations as part of the existing House of Representatives inquiry into whether sufficient grounds exist for the House of Representatives to exercise its constitutional power to impeach Donald John Trump.”
Republicans, however, have countered that there is no “existing” impeachment inquiry because the House has not voted to open one as it did during the Clinton and Nixon impeachments — and Tuesday’s resolution does not explicitly open the probe, either.
“The resolution put forward by Speaker Pelosi confirms that House Democrats’ impeachment has been an illegitimate sham from the start as it lacked any proper authorization by a House vote,” the White House said in a statement. “It continues this scam by allowing Chairman Schiff, who repeatedly lies to the American people, to hold a new round of hearings, still without any due process for the President.”
The White House statement continued, “The White House is barred from participating at all, until after Chairman Schiff conducts two rounds of one-sided hearings to generate a biased report for the Judiciary Committee. Even then, the White House’s rights remain undefined, unclear, and uncertain – because those rules still haven’t been written. This resolution does nothing to change the fundamental fact that House Democrats refuse to provide basic due process rights to the Administration.”
What Does the Resolution D0 for Republicans?
The Democrats’ resolution specifies that ranking Republicans in the minority on the Judiciary and Intelligence Committees (Reps. Doug Collins and Devin Nunes, respectively) will have the authority, with the concurrence of committee chairs in the majority, to subpoena witnesses and compel their testimony — a major demand that the White House and top Republicans had made in recent weeks.
If the chair does not consent, the minority can appeal to the full committee. It is common in other proceedings for committee chairs to essentially have veto authority over subpoenas sought by ranking minority members.
The resolution further directs the Intelligence Committee, in consultation with the other committees, to prepare a report on its findings to the Judiciary Committee, which would actually write any “Articles of Impeachment.” In response to GOP complaints about Democrats’ selective leaks of opening statements and depositions, the document also authorizes the public release of testimony transcripts, with only sensitive or classified information being redacted.
And, the resolution permits Republicans to submit written demands for testimony and other evidence, to cross-examine witnesses, and raise objections.
There is no timeline given for the impeachment inquiry to conclude. The House Rules Committee, which is the gateway for most measures in the House, will meet Wednesday at 3 p.m. ET to prepare the resolution for the House floor, including by adding additional procedures. The full House will debate and vote on the measure Thursday morning, with a vote expected by midday.
After a cadre of House Republicans stormed a closed-door deposition in a secure area and managed to disrupt the Democrats’ impeachment inquiry for hours, House Oversight Committee ranking member Jim Jordan kept the pressure on Democrats by pushing for more transparency — including public testimony from the whistleblower at the center of the probe. In an initial letter to House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff Jordan — joined by House Intelligence Committee ranking member Devin Nunes and Foreign Affairs Committee ranking member Michael McCaul — called for the whistleblower to come out of hiding, so that his or her “sources and credibility” can be “fully assessed.” The committee chairs noted that Schiff had previously promised that the whistleblower would provide “unfiltered” testimony “very soon” concerning an Aug. 12 complaint.
But, the Republicans charged, Schiff abruptly “reversed course” after reports of the whistleblower’s potential political bias emerged, along with evidence that Democratic congressional committee staff had spoken to the whistleblower before the complaint was filed.
The Republicans asserted that evidence has since emerged that “contradicts” the claims in the whistleblower’s initial complaint, including that the Ukrainian president has said he felt no “pressure” during a July call with President Trump to investigate 2020 Dem front-runner Joe Biden, his son Hunter and Biden business interests in Ukraine, and the erroneous claim that Trump had asked Ukrainians to hand over a server. These and similar revelations of inconstancies have prompted Jordan and fellow Republicans to demand more information on the person’s sources.
The lawmakers further demanded testimony from any sources the whistleblower relied upon to draft the complaint, which contained only secondhand information.
House Republicans Storm the Inquiry
House Republican Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., claimed that Schiff “fled with the testifying witness” when roughly 50 Republicans, including several not on one of those three committees, went “face-to-face and demand access to ongoing impeachment proceedings.”
Some Republicans asked to be arrested by Capitol police officers, Fox News has learned, hoping that it would help them make their case that Democrats are abusing the impeachment process.
Republicans said they took the dramatic step to storm the deposition because Democrats’ impeachment inquiry hasn’t been transparent, even as Democrats selectively leak some testimony and evidence to the press. The inquiry is being led by three committees made up of both Democrats and Republicans, but members of Congress not on those committees do not have access to any of the sensitive documents or interviews relating to the probe. Republicans also do not have co-equal power to subpoena witnesses or pursue evidence in the probe.
The standoff unfolded Wednesday morning after lawmakers held a news conference in which they accused House Democrats of lack of transparency. The Republicans specifically decried that the deposition was happening behind closed doors and said Americans should be able to read the transcripts of any interviews being conducted as part of impeachment.
Democrats have promised to release the transcripts when it won’t affect their investigation.
It seems pretty much a given that Articles of Impeachment will be drafted against President Trump in the House. However, it is also just as likely that he will not be convicted and removed from office in the Republican dominated Senate.
However, some political experts are predicting that while Trump will stay, the GOP majority in the Senate could be a victim of the fallout from an impeachment trial. Democrats are targeting President Trump. What they may get instead is the Senate, and could this really be their plan all along?
According to David M. Drucker, writing for the Washington Examiner, here is how and why this can play out.
In a Senate trial to adjudicate articles of impeachment sent up by the House, “at least a handful of vulnerable Senate Republicans risk the wrath of grassroots conservatives if they vote to convict and remove Trump from office. The same group, staring down impeachment with the 2020 primary season drawing near, could just as easily alienate general election voters with a vote to acquit the president,” writes Drucker.
He goes on to say that while Trump is unlikely to be convicted by the Senate, some Republicans will be tempted to support it.
“The House makes the articles of impeachment; we sit as a jury,” Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley told reporters Monday. “There isn’t any way you’re going to know how that plays out until it’s part of public discussion.”
As of the most recent polls, Republican voters are heavily against impeachment. Democrats are strongly in favor, and independents are leaning supportive. It is that dynamic that could squeeze Republican incumbents up for reelection in battleground states, forcing them to choose between appeasing a feverishly pro-Trump GOP base or distancing themselves from an unpopular president to appeal to swing voters and soft partisans. Among them are Sens. Cory Gardner of Colorado, Susan Collins of Maine, Thom Tillis of North Carolina, Joni Ernst of Iowa, and Martha McSally of Arizona.
“They were all going to have tough races to begin with, and Trump isn’t making it any easier on them,” said a Republican strategist, who requested anonymity in order to speak candidly.
Republicans Senators Will Be Bound By the Rules
Under Senate rules, Republicans during a trial would be severely limited from running interference for Trump. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts would preside and hold significant power over motions, and that could present more problems for Republicans. Republicans could find themselves fending off accusations from the Right that they are abetting the Democrats if the trial goes poorly for the president.
“Senators don’t have an active role. The rules mandate that we sit silently,” Sen. Josh Hawley told the Washington Examiner. The Missouri Republican conceded that there would be virtually nothing he or his GOP colleagues could do to overturn rulings made by Roberts that might damage Trump. “It will be strange and it will be hard,” he said.
For all of those who have been saying how “brave” it has been for Senator Mitt Romney to speak out against President Trump the way he has, meet “Pierre Delecto.” That is the name on a fictitious twitter account the Utah Senator created to anonymously criticize the president.
Two journalists from different publications have pieced together enough clues to confirm that Senator Mitt Romney has a secret Twitter account — under the amusing and vaguely French “nom de plume,” Pierre Delecto. The former Republican presidential nominee created the account in 2011, just before announcing his bid for the White House.
During an interview with The Atlantic this week, Romney mentioned to writer McKay Coppins that he indeed uses a secret Twitter account — “What do they call me, a lurker?” he said. Romney also maintains a verified personal account and an official one as senator from Utah. While Romney revealed his secret Twitter habit, he did not reveal the handle. That took some sleuthing by Slate writer Ashley Feinberg who assumed Romney would be following his family members with the secret Twitter persona, and by tracing the follower of his family, she discovered the common friend “Pierre Delecto.”
According to Feinberg, what was so telling about Delecto’s account was the content. His first follow was Romney’s oldest son, Tagg, Feinberg found. He also followed lesser-known Romney family members and quite a number of high-profile Republicans and political pundits. Feinberg also noted that of Delecto’s 257 “likes,” 30 were on tweets from Romney’s real Twitter account. She was confident that Delecto was, in fact, Mitt Romney himself – and she was right!
Meanwhile It’s Open Season on Mittens By the GOP
Despite the secret account, Romney has continued to be openly critical of the president, even publicly supportive of his impeachment, which has most of the GOP furious. Once conservative, now Trumpian groups such as the Club For Growth call him a “Democratic secret asset” for not completely discounting the idea of impeachment.
President Trump himself has lashed out at Romney’s disloyalty to him, and by extension the Republican Party. At a recent press conference the President complained that Republicans were not united enough in defending him against what he called “vicious” adversaries bent on removing him. Launching into a series of attacks on Democrats, Trump said that they were “vicious and they stick together. They don’t have Mitt Romney in their midst — they don’t have people like that.”
Romney, a frequent Trump critic, has called the president’s attempts to solicit dirt on a political rival “wrong and appalling,” making him one of the most outspoken Republicans on the president’s behavior in office, and has declined to rule out impeaching him. In a fiery speech last week, Romney, the 2012 Republican presidential nominee, said the Syria withdrawal would be seen as “a bloodstain on the annals of American history.”
As we recently reported, Fox Business anchor Maria Bartiromo, walked back her announcement that the Justice Department inspector general’s report on Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) abuses would be released as early as Friday, October 18.
Bartiromo has now gone on record saying that the long anticipated IGs report will likely not be out until “the end of the month.”
However, those goalposts seem to be moving again. As Fox News is reporting, “As soon as Horowitz is done with his review of the FISA warrant application, the counterintelligence investigation, the Trump campaign, we’ll have a hearing in public with Horowitz and we’ll call a bunch of witnesses,” Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said on Fox Business’ “Sunday Morning Futures.”
Last month, Horowitz submitted a draft of his report to Attorney General Bill Barr, who was reviewing the document — fueling the belief that the public release was coming soon.
But a Justice Department official told Fox News last week that the report is still in the declassification process — one of the final steps to be completed before the report is released to the public.
“The FBI and the DOJ are working together smoothly on the declassification process,” the official told Fox News.
President Trump — who has the authority to declassify and release as much of the report as he wants — has been hyping its forthcoming release. “The IG report is going to come out soon, and we’ll see what happens,” the president told reporters last week, adding he’s “waiting for the report like everybody else.”
“But I predict you will see things that you don’t even believe, the level of corruption — whether it’s [James] Comey; whether it’s [Peter] Strzok and his lover, [Lisa] Page; whether it’s so many other people — [Andrew] McCabe; whether it’s President Obama himself,” Trump charged.
Trump added, “Let’s see whether or not it’s President Obama. Let’s see whether or not they put that in.”
Horowitz announced the completion of his investigation one month ago. The inspector general gave a draft to the Justice Department and the FBI for a classification review, after which the final draft will be delivered to Congress.
Republicans assert that top Justice Department and FBI officials misled the FISA court by using an unverified dossier compiled by British ex-spy Christopher Steele to obtain warrants to electronically monitor onetime Trump campaign adviser Carter Page.
Democrats have dismissed the allegations of wrongdoing during the Trump-Russia investigation and are concerned that U.S. Attorney John Durham’s review of the early stages of the Russia investigation, being overseen by Attorney General William Barr, may be an effort to discredit the work of special counsel Robert Mueller.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi recapped Wednesday’s tumultuous White House showdown with President Trump over Syria, saying she told him his troop pullout was a gift to Vladimir Putin, and questioned him about helping Saudi Arabia, before Trump had what she called “a meltdown.”
However, according to President Trump and others in the meeting, it was “Nervous Nancy” who had the “meltdown.” After Pelosi walked out on the meeting, the president took to Twitter, responding to the latest Democrat attacks questioning his mental health and saying that it was he who had the “meltdown.” Trump tweeted that either Pelosi has mental problems or she and other Democrats deliberately put their partisan interests above the interests of those of the country.
Pelosi reportedly stormed out of the meeting with top White House officials, citing disrespectful treatment by President Trump. Republican lawmakers who were at the meeting, however, have said Pelosi’s claims make no sense.
“Inside the meeting, what I listen to, the speaker referred to the President I thought was unbecoming. The only thing that happened in this meeting was the Democrat leadership got up and walked away. When there was a time of crisis, leaders should stay whether they like what is said or not and actually work to solve a problem.”
— Representative Kevin McCarthy ( R-Calif.)
Meanwhile, Democrats are increasingly focusing on the 2020 elections, while also continuing their push for presidential impeachment. Pelosi defended her party’s impeachment effort, saying it was about the rule of law, not electoral politics.
“I keep saying to people impeachment is about the truth and the Constitution of the United States. Any other issues that you have disapproving of the way the president has dealt with Syria, whatever the subject is, the reluctance and cowardice to do something about gun violence, the cruelty of not wanting to help our Dreamers and transgender people, the denial about the climate crisis we face, the list goes on,” she said. “That’s about the election. That has nothing to do with what is happening in terms of our oath of office to protect and defend the Constitution.”
Trump has slammed the impeachment process as a witch hunt and scam by the Democrats, because they know they can’t beat him at the ballot box.
As reported by the Associated Press and other news outlets, Maryland Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, died Thursday of complications from longstanding health problems. He was 68 years old. Cummings was a sharecropper’s son who rose to become a civil rights champion and the powerful chairman of one of the U.S. House committees leading an impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump.
As chairman of the House Oversight and Reform Committee, Cummings often found himself at odds with President Trump. Cummings led investigations of the president’s governmental dealings, including probes in 2019 relating to Trump’s family members serving in the White House.
Cummings died at Gilchrist Hospice Care, a Johns Hopkins affiliate. As chairman of the House Oversight and Reform Committee, he was one of the most powerful Democrats in Washington, and he has played a key role in the House Democrats’ ongoing efforts to impeach Trump.
Tributes poured in Thursday from lawmakers and others in politics on both sides of the aisle.
“I was shocked and saddened to learn the news this morning of my dear friend’s passing,” House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, a fellow Maryland Democrat, said in a statement. “Elijah Cummings was a man of principle, patriotism, and conviction, whose loss will be deeply felt throughout the State of Maryland and our country.”
At the White House, the flag was lowered to half-staff. Despite Cummings and Trump often tossing unkind words at one another, the president had nothing but praise for the deceased congressman.
“My warmest condolences to the family and many friends of Congressman Elijah Cummings,” Trump tweeted. “I got to see first-hand the strength, passion and wisdom of this highly respected political leader. His work and voice on so many fronts will be very hard, if not impossible, to replace!”
Cummings Had “Longstanding” Health Issues
Cummings’ office said in a brief statement that he died “due to complications concerning longstanding health challenges.” Cummings had been in ill health the past few years, navigating the Capitol in a motorized cart and using a walker.
“He worked until his last breath because he believed our democracy was the highest and best expression of our collective humanity,” his wife, Maya Rockeymoore Cummings, said Thursday.
Cummings did not return to work after an undisclosed medical procedure that he said would only keep him away for about a week. The New York Times reported that Cummings had heart surgery in 2017 and had a bacterial infection in his knee.
However, Cummings had not been seen the past few weeks at closed-door interviews, alongside House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff and Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot Engel. Yet, every subpoena, document request or statement which was issued on impeachment of late was done in the name of all three committee chairs. New York Rep. Carolyn Maloney is next in seniority to take over the gavel of the committee.
The committee postponed a planned hearing Thursday.
Rudy Giuliani said that he was “disappointed” in former National Security Adviser John Bolton, after reports emerged that he had called Giuliani a “hand grenade” over his Ukraine investigations and that Bolton had told a top aide to alert a lawyer in the National Security Council over Giuliani’s apparent meddling in State affairs.
“I am disappointed in John,” Giuliani said in a statement to Fox News. “I’m not sure he realizes I received all this evidence as part of my representation of the president. It was all part of the evidence, and suppression of evidence, involving Ukrainian collusion and the origin of some of the false information against the president.”
The comments from the president’s personal attorney came after it emerged that Fiona Hill, a former senior director to Russian and Eurasian affairs, told lawmakers Monday that a meeting between Ukrainian and U.S. officials left her and Bolton so concerned that he told her to alert John Eisenberg, a lawyer at the NSC. According to the New York Times, Hill said Bolton told her to notify Eisenberg about the efforts by Giuliani, and acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney and E.U. Ambassador Gordon Sondland to press Ukraine to investigate Democrats.
“I am not part of whatever drug deal Sondland and Mulvaney are cooking up,” Bolton allegedly told Hill, according to the Times. Hill said Bolton had previously called Giuliani a “hand grenade who’s going to blow everyone up.”
The dramatic testimony demonstrated how Giuliani and others’ efforts to investigate activity in Ukraine — particularly that of former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter– has split the White House.
House Democrats launched an impeachment inquiry last month, alleging that Trump withheld crucial US military aid to Ukraine in an attempt to force the Ukrainians into investigating his political opponent — specifically Biden’s role in the firing of a top prosecutor who had been investigating a Ukrainian gas company, where Hunter Biden sat on the board.
Trump has denied any quid pro quo, and claims instead that he was only looking to crackdown on corruption. He has instead attempted to direct attention to Hunter Biden’s activities in both Ukraine and China.
As the impeachment inquiry has heated up, it has also brought more scrutiny to Giuliani’s role in spearheading a separate investigation into Ukraine. The New York Times reported Friday that prosecutors in Manhattan are investigating whether the former New York City mayor broke lobbying laws in his own dealings with Ukraine. On Monday, Reuters first reported that Giuliani’s firm had been paid $500,000 in 2018 by one of the two Ukrainian-American businessmen arrested last week on campaign finance charges.
Trump gave his backing to Giuliani on Saturday, tweeting that he was a “great guy and wonderful lawyer.”
“So now they are after the legendary “crime buster” and greatest Mayor in the history of NYC, Rudy Giuliani. He may seem a little rough around the edges sometimes, but he is also a great guy and wonderful lawyer,” he tweeted. “Such a one-sided Witch Hunt going on in USA. Deep State. Shameful!”
As the White House reels, and the press swarms like angry bees around the Impeachment Inquiry of President Donald Trump, many have forgotten that the draft report on potential abuse by FISA by IG Horowitz remains in review, and now set to be released by “the end of this week.”
Fox Business anchor Maria Bartiromo says the report by Department of Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz is expected to be published on Friday, October 18th, and she says her sources expect it to cover “more than just FISA abuse.”
Bartiromo tweeted this thing is “as thick as a phone book.”
As the Washington Examiner reports, “it has been exactly one month since Horowitz announced the completion of the investigation by his team, who pored over more than 1 million records and conducted 100-plus interviews. The inspector general gave a draft to the Justice Department and FBI for a classification review. Upon the completion of that process, the report will first be delivered to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham, who has pledged to do a “deep dive” of his own into FISA that will run concurrently with U.S. Attorney John Durham’s review of the early stages of the Russia investigation. The South Carolina Republican said his “No. 1 goal” is to have as much of the report declassified as possible.”
Last week, U.S. District Judge John Bates praised IG Horowitz for what he said was a thorough job, and what he expects to be a “fair and accurate” report.
“I expect a very thorough report — a very fair report from Michael Horowitz. He’s a good inspector general. He’s careful,” Bates said. Bates added later that he expects the report to be “pretty lengthy.”
Bates’ assessment of Horowitz bolsters the watchdog’s credibility at a time when he will find himself yet again at the center of a political firestorm when the FISA report is released to the public next week, if Bartiromo’s sources are accurate.
Horowitz Has Already Taken Fire
Bates’ compliments of Horowitz ahead of the report’s release come as the IG’s integrity has already been called into question, most notably by someone mentioned in his probe — disgraced former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe. McCabe was fired last year after a report from Horowitz found that he made unauthorized disclosures to the media and misled investigators. In a legal fight against the Justice Department over his ouster, McCabe’s lawyers slammed Horowitz’s report as being “deeply flawed.”
Horowitz has been talking with U.S. Attorney John Durham, who is handling any criminal referrals from the investigation. As to what exactly the report says, Bates could not guess. Despite the rumors of a coming bombshell that could hit Democrats hard, “I don’t have a prediction for whether he is going to find fault and mistakes or worse and at what levels. Because remember that the sign-offs on these applications in the Department of Justice and the FBI were pretty high levels,” he said.
Satunch Trump supporter, Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., literally got the boot on Monday when he tried to sit in on the testimony of a Fiona Hill, former top National Security Council expert on Russia who was appearing on Capitol Hill as part of the House impeachment inquiry into the president.
Gaetz, who sits on the House Judiciary Committee, attempted to attend the testimony of Hill, but was told that because he was not a member of the House Intelligence Committee that he had to leave. The House Intelligence, Oversight and Foreign Affairs committees are conducting the impeachment inquiry into Trump.
A frustrated Gaetz aired his disappointment to reporters after being told he was not welcome to sit in on the hearing, venting his anger over what he says are “selective leaks” by House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., and questioning why he was not allowed to be present during Hill’s testimony. Gaetz added that the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Rep. Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., was involved in the impeachment inquiry.
“It’s not like I’m on agriculture,” Gaetz said. “What are the Democrats so afraid of?”
A visibly annoyed Gaetz followed his comments with a tweet calling the impeachment inquiry a kangaroo court and using one of Trump’s favorite nicknames for the intelligence committee chairman, “Shifty Schiff.”
“Judiciary Chairman [Jerry Nadler] claimed to have begun the impeachment inquiry weeks ago,” Gaetz tweeted. “Now, his own Judiciary members aren’t even allowed to participate in it. And yes – my constituents want me actively involved in stopping the #KangarooCourtCoup run by Shifty Schiff.”
Republicans Rally Around Trump
Other Republicans closely aligned with Trump continued on Monday to complain about Schiff and his handling of the impeachment inquiry – with Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, also lambasting the California Democrat for excluding some congressional Republicans from the testimonies and for leaking “cherry-picked” information from the closed-door hearings to the press.
“She was going to come voluntarily but he’s going to subpoena her I believe so he can ask certain questions and again keep those secret except for the certain things that he wants to leak, the cherry-picked information to the American people,” Jordan said of Schiff before Hill appeared on Capitol Hill to testify. “The tragedy here and the crime here is that the American people don’t get to see what’s going on in these sessions,” Jordan said.
Hill’s testimony comes ahead of a planned Thursday appearance by Gordon Sondland, Trump’s hand-picked Ambassador to the European Union, and follows the revelation of a cache of text messages from top envoys, which have provided a vivid account of their work acting as intermediaries around the time Trump urged Ukraine’s new president, Volodymr Zelenskiy, to start investigations into a company linked to the family of a chief Democratic presidential rival, Joe Biden.
One witness who may not be called before Congress is the still anonymous government whistleblower who touched off the impeachment inquiry. Top Democrats say testimony and evidence coming in from other witnesses, and even the president himself, are backing up the whistleblower’s account of what transpired during Trump’s July 25 phone call with Zelenskiy.
Schiff said Sunday, “We don’t need the whistleblower, who wasn’t on the call, to tell us what took place during the call. We have the best evidence of that.” He added it “may not be necessary” to reveal the whistleblower’s identity as the House gathers evidence.
“Our primary interest right now is making sure that that person is protected,” Schiff said.