Now that the House Intelligence Committee has concluded its investigation into whether President Donald Trump inked a quid-pro-quo agreement with Ukrainian officials, trading foreign aid for a guarantee that Ukrainian investigators would look into the Biden family’s political machinations, the House Judiciary Committee gets a crack at the President — but he won’t be testifying in front of Rep. Jerry Nadler’s (D-NY) committee.
Nadler issued an invitation (of sorts) to Trump over the weekend in the form of a letter, opening the door for Republicans to call their own witnesses in this second half of the impeachment inquiry, and Trump’s legal team responded almost immediately, declining Nadler’s offer.
“The White House said Sunday it will not participate in the House Judiciary Committee’s first impeachment hearing on Wednesday but left open the possibility that it may take part in future proceedings,” NBC News reported.
White House Counsel Pat Cipollone added, in a letter addressed directly to Nadler, that the Judiciary Committee, like the Intelligence Committe, could “not begin to provide the president with any semblance of a fair process.”
That’s true, but at least the Judiciary Committee will provide the president with the opportunity to put forth a more robust defense than the Intelligence Committee did, even if only because some of the president’s closest Congressional allies will be able to sit in on the hearings, including Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), who tried his best to throw off Rep. Adam Schiff’s (D-CA) closed-door interviews but was ultimately stopped, given he had no right to any official access to the Intelligence Committee’s doings. He’ll have the opportunity to be a much stronger voice here.
If Nadler doesn’t improve upon Schiff’s performance, that also spells good news for the White House. A number of leftists, including several Democrats in close races, and even members of the mainstream media, have shied away from openly supporting a vote on impeachment now that Schiff’s stage of the impeachment inquiry has concluded. Even Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight was forced to admit, Monday, that Schiff had failed to produce a “smoking gun” proving the president was behind any quid-pro-quo agreement involving Joe and Hunter Biden.
The New York Times was the first to diagnose the Democrats’ problem, however, writing several weeks ago that Schiff, through his iron-fisted control of the panel, had kneecapped his own party. Schiff was careful to allow only witnesses who helped his case testify, and limited Republicans from bringing in any opposing witness, or cross-examining anyone deeply involved in the original Ukrainian deal — including the original whistleblower — likely out of fear that the White House could skewer what Schiff felt was an open-and-shut case.
Subsequently, though, polling on impeachment went Republicans’ way. Most Americans’ impression of the president’s behavior was unchanged from before the inquiry, and independents — whose votes Democrats desperately need to win back the White House, swung against impeachment by a whopping ten points.
Republicans in the House Judiciary Committee say they’re ready to put up a fight and plan to be “much more feisty,” according to the Washington Post, than their Intelligence Committee peers.