But one defense has been fairly consistent: The impeachment inquiry being run by House Democrats is simply not fair. That House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.) is deposing witnesses in a secure hearing room, they argue, locks out Republican input and deprives Trump of due process.
There are a variety of ways in which this complaint is obviously disingenuous, including that the impeachment process will offer an opportunity for Trump to defend himself as it moves forward, including a possible trial in the Senate. But perhaps the most disingenuous aspect of the complaint is that Republicans are actively participating in the ongoing hearings.
The Washington Post’s Paul Kane reported last Wednesday that Republicans who sit on the committees leading the inquiry are as engaged as Democrats, asking as many questions as they desire. Democrats control who is called in for a deposition, and only members of those three committees can participate, but any implication that Republicans broadly are excluded from the process is inaccurate.
On Wednesday, Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), perhaps Trump’s most energetic defender in the House, nonetheless tried to draw attention to complaints that there was insufficient “transparency and inclusion” in the process. Earlier this month, Gaetz tried to attend one of the inquiry hearings — only to be turned away because he was not a member of the relevant committees. No doubt aware of the resulting media attention, Gaetz assembled an entire cadre of Republicans to join him in storming the secure hearing room Wednesday. They marched in, plunked down and proceeded to delay the hearing by hours. (Trump was reportedly informed of the plan in advance.)
Again, though, this is a weird complaint — especially coming from the crew that joined Gaetz.
There are, as of writing, 432 voting members in the House, 197 of whom are Republicans.
Of the total, there are 103 members on the Intelligence, Oversight or Foreign Affairs committees, all of whom are allowed to participate in the inquiry hearings. Forty-eight of them are Republicans.
In other words, 1 out of every 4 Republicans in the House can participate in the inquiry hearings anyway. That doesn’t include Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), who is also allowed to participate. It does include Rep. Greg Pence (R-Ind.), the brother of the vice president. He sits on the Foreign Affairs committee.
According to a news release sent from Gaetz’s office that was spotted by journalist Marcy Wheeler, 41 Republicans joined Gaetz’s sit-in protest Wednesday. Of that group, more than a quarter — 13 — were members of the three relevant committees and, therefore, allowed to attend the hearings! Those 13, in fact, make up more than a quarter of all of the Republicans allowed to attend the hearings. They also included Rep. Lee Zeldin (N.Y.), who bragged during an interview on Fox News this week that he’d attended more of the hearings than Schiff.
As the graphic also makes clear, far more Democrats are unable to attend the inquiry hearings compared with Republicans. Despite that, Gaetz’s event didn’t include any Democrats.
Again, the goal here was only superficially a commitment to an open process. It was more immediately about trying to raise questions about process and, as a side benefit, delaying a witness’s testimony.
And probably a little bit about getting on TV.