Republicans so concerned about access to impeachment hearings, they're not bothering to come
One of the things demonstrated by the transcripts that have been released has nothing to do with the actual testimony of the officials who respond to congressional subpoenas. It has to do with the number of people who are showing up to hear their testimony. And as Roll Call notes, despite all the complaints, sit ins, and pizza deliveries made by House Republicans claiming they’ve shut out from the closed door hearings, the truth is that Republicans are simply failing to show up to hear testimony.
Those Republicans who have appeared at the hearings seem to be the most Trump-centric of the Trump-centered party. They’ve concentrated on attacking witnesses over details of timelines, but they’ve spent far more of their time asking witnesses to the Ukraine scandal about unconnected items like the Steele dossier or other aspects of the Russia investigation. They’ve also used their time to make declarations about the whole impeachment process. They’ve also used the time to plant information about the supposed whistleblower to get these claims on record.
But other than the Republicans using the process to lay mines they hope will blow up at a later date, most of those pounding their chests about access to testimony have simply played hooky. That’s particularly true when it comes to testimony that looks to be particularly damaging to Trump. When Ambassador Gordon Sondland spoke, Democrats in the chamber outnumbered Republicans by more than 2-1.
Why would Republicans skip out on hearings that they’ve been demanding to be let into? First, because those Republican demands were never about getting access to the hearings. They were simply meant to discredit the process, not deal with the nonexistent problem of Republican access. But it also seems likely that the last line of Republican defense is going to be the one already deployed by Senator Lindsey Graham — pure ignorance.
On Tuesday, Graham declared that not only has he not read the depositions released by the House impeachment process, he doesn’t intend to read them. Because he’s “written the whole process off.” Expect other Republicans to follow the same line.
Republicans who admit to reading, or hearing, the testimony by Kurt Volker, Gordon Sondland, Fiona Hill, William Taylor, Alexander Vindman and others get confronted by questions about that testimony. Things like: Why did Trump allow rumors by Rudy Giuliani to sink the career of an experienced ambassador? Why did Mick Mulvaney put together a team of enforcers to go around established diplomatic channels and extort political favors? Why did Trump press Ukraine to investigate a ludicrous conspiracy theory meant to clear Vladimir Putin of interfering in the 2016 election?
But Republicans who simply skipped their hearing and don’t read transcripts can claim the Graham defense. Pure, pure ignorance.
Of course, that ignorance is going to be harder to maintain in just a few days … because public hearings start next week.