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Reps. Brad Wenstrup and Chris Stewart: What the public needs to know before public impeachment hearings begin

Washington, November 13, 2019 Contact:
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This article was originally published in the Washington Examiner.

As members of the House Intelligence Committee, we have had a front-row seat to Democrats’ yearslong efforts to impeach President Trump. This week, Democrats are finally making public the circus that has been taking place behind closed doors.

 

This latest effort is more of the same. Democrats’ push to impeachment is a foregone conclusion in search of evidence; politically, they must impeach Trump, so they are seeking a rationale to do so.

As impeachment plays out on television screens across America, it’s important that we separate fact from fiction. Here’s what to watch for.

MYTH 1: The identity and testimony of the whistleblower does not matter.

This is particularly ironic considering Chairman Adam Schiff and his staff know who the whistleblower is (they have known since August) and encouraged the whistleblower to submit the complaint to an inspector general.

It is standard whistleblower procedure to clear the motives of the whistleblower, and is especially important to do so in this scenario because the Intelligence Community inspector general to whom the whistleblower submitted their complaint said the whistleblower showed “indicia of an arguable political bias.”

The full Intelligence Committee ought to have the opportunity to examine this legitimate concern. Schiff’s reluctance to bring the whistleblower before the committee only lends credibility to the notion that his or her report was politically motivated. It was House Speaker Nancy Pelosi who on Sept. 22 demanded “a path for the whistleblower to speak directly to the House and Senate Intelligence Committees as required by law.”

It’s also important for investigators to know what Schiff shared with Pelosi about his meeting with the whistleblower. Pelosi made the announcement that the House would begin formal impeachment efforts before the release of either the memorandum of the telephone conversation (transcript) or whistleblower complaint, leaving us to wonder who knew what when.

MYTH 2: Trump broke the law.

Trump has been remarkably transparent with releasing transcripts of his calls with the president of Ukraine. Immediately after allegations against him became public, Trump released the initial transcript and is now working to release a second transcript of another call with the Ukrainian president.

I have read the transcript and see nothing illegal. Trump never mentions aid, much less threatens to withhold it as aspiring playwright Adam Schiff led viewers to believe ahead of acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire’s testimony.

MYTH 3: Biden should be immune from scrutiny because he is a political candidate.

While Democrats have attempted to shield Joe Biden from scrutiny because he is currently a political candidate, they were perfectly comfortable with a DNC-funded dossier being used to launch a three-year investigation into Trump. Democrats are fond of saying, “No one is above the law.” Yet, when a video surfaced of Joe Biden openly bragging about withholding aid to force the firing of a Ukrainian prosecutor, Democrats enlisted their allies in the media to summarily dismiss and ignore Biden’s own words.

MYTH 4: This is a fair process and the same as President Bill Clinton's and Richard Nixon's impeachment processes.

Unlike the Clinton and Nixon impeachment, Democrats have attempted to shove this impeachment process through the Intelligence Committee — a committee designed to deliberate away from public view, as it oversees our intelligence community. Impeaching the president has nothing to do with intelligence community oversight, but Democrats have used the classified setting of the committee and their power as the majority to shield proceedings from the public and selectively leak to fit their narrative.

Democrats have not afforded Trump appropriate due process because his counsel has not been given the right to participate in the Intelligence Committee’s proceedings.

Democrats have rejected any possibility of an equal right to call or deny witnesses by giving themselves sole veto power over who can or cannot come before the committee.

In both the Clinton and Nixon impeachment proceedings, members of Congress demonstrated they were willing to put country over party and personal power. Sadly, we are not seeing the same today.

Schiff has abused his power and used his authority to protect himself and keep America in the dark. He should recuse himself.

In summary, here are the facts you need to know before Democrats take the impeachment circus public:

  • Trump released the transcript of the conversation. It shows no pressure.
  • The Ukrainian president confirmed there was no pressure from the Trump administration.
  • Ukraine has not said it knew of any hold on aid.
  • Ukraine did not investigate Joe Biden or his son. In a timely fashion, they got the needed aid that President Barack Obama once threatened to deny.

Rep. Brad Wenstrup, a Republican, represents Ohio's second congressional district. Rep. Chris Stewart, a Republican, represents Utah's second congressional district. Both serve on the House Intelligence Committee.