Republican members of the House Intelligence Committee voiced their concern on Tuesday over how secretly Democrats have been conducting the impeachment process of President Donald Trump.
“This has been a closed-door, unfair, and unprecedented process. Tens of millions of Americans should know that their member of Congress has had no access to any of the transcripts. In fact, no member has been able to read every transcript,” Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY) told reporters during the weekly GOP press conference.
Stefanik, a two term member of the Intelligence committee, revealed that to date, Democrats have only made the testimony from two witnesses even available to committee members — that of U.S. special representative to Ukraine Kurt Volker and U.S. ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch. Even then, Democrats have severely restricted the availability of transcripts.
“We were notified this week at our staff level that they would only be printing one transcript for every single member, whether you’re on the committee or not, and you would have to read it with a member of Democratic staff,” Stefanik explained. “That is unprecedented and unfair.”
The New York congresswoman further questioned how Democrats are able to voice their support for the impeachment proceedings when they do not even have access to the evidence.
Rep. Mike Turner (R-OH), who also serves on the Intelligence Committee, echoed Stefanik’s alarm on House Democrats’ secrecy, which he referred to as abusive process.
“It is absolutely essential that to preserve Democracy that we have an impeachment process that is open and transparent, where the American people can see what is occurring,” Turner said. “And here today, we have an impeachment process that’s occurring in secret without any real action that is even happening from the House.”
“The House has not taken action to open an impeachment process, nor has any committee, nor has the House taken a vote for the process to be undertaken in secret,” he continued. “We have an unbelievable abusive process that is occurring.”
The Ohio lawmaker put forth that the proceedings have been detrimental to the American people, who are not only left in the dark on what is occurring, but who are also receiving false information from the news media that even members of Congress are not legally able to correct.
“In addition to it being secret where the American public does not have the ability to watch the witnesses or those who are questioning them, each member, in the manner in which they have structured this, is restrained who does have access to the information, from telling anyone anything that’s happening behind closed doors,” Turner explained.
“I am prevented from going to my constituency in Ohio and telling them what’s happening behind closed doors in the Intelligence committee, of which I am a member,” he continued. “As the media reports news leaks of what has occurred, many of which are absolutely inaccurate and false, members of Congress have no ability to stand in front of you and give you the correct information so that you can report it.”
Turner also noted that since even Congress has been denied the ability to review the documents, the overwhelming majority of lawmakers who are either advocating for or against impeachment have not seen the evidence that has enabled them to knowledgeably come to that conclusion.