The House impeachment inquiry is releasing the transcripts that the Republicans were demanding be made public. Well, as they say, be careful what you wish for.
Republicans have complained for weeks about the secret House impeachment inquiry, accusing Democrats of rigging the process and interviewing witnesses behind closed doors — at one point storming the hearing room and chanting, “Let us in!”
But inside the secure room in the Capitol basement where the proceedings are taking place, Republicans have used their time to complain that testimony has become public, going after their colleagues who were quoted in media reports commenting on witness appearances, and quizzing witnesses themselves on how their statements had been released.
The efforts by GOP lawmakers to shape the Democrats’ inquiry emerged in full view for the first time Monday with the release of hundreds of pages of transcripts from two early witnesses: Marie Yovanovitch, former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, and Michael McKinley, a former senior adviser to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
At one point, GOP lawmakers held up the questioning of McKinley to complain about a fellow lawmaker, Rep. Gerald E. Connolly (D-Va.), who had made a public comment about witness testimony the day before.
“Obviously, we’ve talked about confidentiality in here,” said Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), a top Trump ally. “. . . Is that a violation of the House rules?”
The Democrats’ point man on the inquiry, Rep. Adam B. Schiff (Calif.), demurred, noting that he had told lawmakers not to discuss what happened in the depositions. But Republicans couldn’t let it go.
“I, like my colleague here, share the concerns,” said. Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Tex.). “We need clarification on the rules that apply to confidentiality.”
The release of the two transcripts Monday marked a new milestone in the Democrats’ investigation, which has thus far taken place largely out of public view.
The short version is that the Republicans were basically doing everything they could to undermine the credibility of the witnesses — at which they laughingly failed, at one time pondering the origin of Ms. Yovanovitch’s nickname, Masha — to drawing out these bonkers conspiracy theories perpetrated by Sean Hannity and his minions at Fox News.
Depending on your point of view, it’s only going to get better or worse for Trump and his gang of fools. The more transcripts come out, the more they’re going to reveal that not only was Trump putting the bite on Ukraine for dirt on Joe Biden, he was being rather clumsy at it. And it’s going to make the Republicans in the House who are rabidly defending him look even more like sycophants — if that it possible.
I’m pretty sure by the end of today we’re going to hear the Republicans wondering if the testimony should now be done behind closed doors.