A transcript from an Oct. 14 closed-door testimony released Friday documented the spine-chilling process where House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) told Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) to “remove” himself from the hearing room, despite Gaetz’s claims that he has a role in impeachment as a member of the Judiciary Committee.
The hearing, at which former White House top Russia expert Fiona Hill is set to testify as part of the inquiry into President Donald Trump, was delayed when Gaetz showed up at the hearing, only to be told to leave immediately after by Schiff.
“You’re going to include members of Congress on committees that have roles of impeachment,” Gaetz asserted.
But Schiff had no patience to hear more from the Florida Republican.
“Mr. Gaetz, take your statement to the press,” Schiff said. “They do you no good here. So, please, absent yourself.”
When asked by Gaetz if Schiff intended to remove him from the hearing room, Schiff fumed, “You’re going to remove yourself.”
The heated exchange continued until Schiff decided to announce that the deposition will not resume until Gaetz has left the hearing room.
Schiff proceeded with the hearing when he was certain that Gaetz has left.
But Gaetz was not deterred and refused to abandon his efforts to try to enter a closed-door hearing again.
“We’re going to try and go in there, and we’re going to try to figure out what’s going on, on behalf of the millions of Americans that we represent that want to see this Congress working for them and not obsess with attacking a president who we believe has not done anything to deserve impeachment,” Gaetz said at an Oct. 23 hearing where Laura Cooper, the official who oversees Ukraine policy at the Department of Defense, was set to testify, Fox News reported.
GOP lawmakers last month collectively condemned the clandestine process in which Democrats have decided to have their witnesses testify, asserting that the hearings should be transparent and transcripts should be declassified and released to the public.
The wave of complaints came after a half dozen Republican lawmakers were blocked from attending former senior adviser to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Michael McKinley’s Oct. 3 hearing.
“They designed a process to pick and choose who to come,” McCarthy said, calling the process a “closed system” that has been “designed to already try to find an outcome.”
Rep. Debbie Lesko (R-Ariz.) decried Democrats for selective leaking of testimony that would put the president in the worst possible position.
“This is a political hit job on President Trump,” Lesko said. “We’re talking about the impeachment of the president of the United States.”
Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.) likened the closed-door hearings to Soviet secret hearings, calling the process “absolutely intolerable.”
As a member of the Oversight and Reform Committee, Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) mocked Schiff for comparing the Democrat-held hearings to a special prosecutor’s investigation, USA Today reports.
“Four hundred and thirty-five members will have to make a decision” should Democrats proceed with articles of impeachment, Meadows pointed out, adding, “yet you have less than three dozen members who are getting to hear the actual witnesses.”
Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) was appalled when he was informed by the impeachment panel’s staff that he was not allowed to read the interview transcripts or attend McKinley’s Oct. 3 private hearing.
“That is garbage,” Gohmert fumed. “This is an insane asylum, and it’s clear the inmates are running it, because the elected people … said we want you to participate.”