Republicans move the impeachment goal posts after Pelosi announces the vote they demanded
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called the White House's bluff by setting up a House vote on the impeachment inquiry “that affirms the ongoing, existing investigation.” The White House had said it wouldn’t cooperate until the House held a vote on whether to hold an impeachment inquiry, and Pelosi is doing just that “to eliminate any doubt as to whether the Trump administration may withhold documents, prevent witness testimony, disregard duly authorized subpoenas, or continue obstructing the House of Representatives.”
Republicans obviously are not taking this lying down. If Pelosi is cutting off one of their key process arguments against impeachment, well … they’re going to start just as furiously lobbing slightly different process arguments. Emphasis on slightly.
“Pelosi let Schiff hold secret hearings and leak misleading info to attack @realDonaldTrump for weeks. Now she wants a vote to ‘formalize’ a process that’s already tainted. Dems aren't trying to change their Soviet-style impeachment process, they're formally endorsing it,” whined House Minority Whip Steve Scalise. Like basically every argument Republicans have made on this, this is downright hilarious when you consider the current inquiry in comparison to the secret, leak-prone Benghazi investigation into Hillary Clinton.
Look to hear the word “tainted” a lot in the next few days, since Rep. Andy Biggs used the same term, suggesting that it’s part of Republican Talking Points Mad Libs. They lost the House in 2018, so to them anything coming from the House will be tainted. “Tainted,” coming from these guys, just means “Republicans didn’t control it.” Also expect to hear “sham,” already used by Reps. Matt Gaetz and Mark Meadows. Gaetz’s take was especially creative, calling House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff’s inquiry “freewheeling” and “anarchic.” Which, please. We have all seen Adam Schiff on television and we can all tell that nothing that man does will ever be freewheeling or anarchic.
Rep. Lee Zeldin responded to the vote announcement with a list of extreme demands that fundamentally misrepresents the purpose of impeachment proceedings in the House: “Pelosi now says there will be a vote Thu to authorize their impeachment inquiry. This should include minority subpoena rights, equal allocat. of staff, immediate release of all transcripts & more. POTUS' counsel should be able to attend depos, present evidence & quest. witnesses.” Zeldin presumably knows that the time for Trump’s counsel to be involved and mount an affirmative defense will be in the Senate trial (that Republicans want to keep from happening if possible) and that it would be completely inappropriate for Trump’s attorneys to be in on the proceedings now, but he’s ignoring that because process complaints are all Republicans have, and he needs something to fuss about.
This is what Republicans have: whining that Democrats have “tainted” a “sham” by conducting the same type of closed-door depositions that made up the largest part of the Benghazi investigation—but that, in this case, are preludes to public hearings—and making outlandish demands to try to confuse the public on what exactly is supposed to be involved in an impeachment inquiry. But even if the quality of their objections is low, the quantity will be extremely high.