In impeachment inquiry, House GOP has not used its time wisely

Updated

A couple of weeks ago, many House Republicans demanded access to private depositions in the impeachment inquiry. There was a degree of irony dogging their complaints: many of those whining were already welcome to participate.

Complicating matters, Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-N.Y.), a member of the House Intelligence Committee, told Rachel on the show that “very few” House Republicans who’ve participated in the process have taken full advantage of the opportunity, apparently because “they don’t want to do the actual work.”

And now we can take this one step further. Yesterday, the House released transcripts from two impeachment inquiry witnesses: Marie Yovanovitch, former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, and Michael McKinley, a former senior adviser to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Obviously, what matters most are the insights they shared as part of their depositions.

But the transcripts also offer a peek into how House Republicans have conducted themselves during their proceedings. Based on this Washington Post report, it does not appear they used their time wisely.

[I]nside the secure room in the Capitol basement where the proceedings are taking place, Republicans have used their time to complain that testimony has become public, going after their colleagues who were quoted in media reports commenting on witness appearances, and quizzing witnesses themselves on how their statements had been released.

Dana Milbank added that GOP members “pursued one conspiracy theory after another involving the Bidens, George Soros, the Clinton Foundation, Hillary Clinton, the Obama administration, deep state social-media ‘tracking’ and mishandling classified information. They ate up a good chunk of time merely complaining that Yovanovitch’s opening statement had been made public (which under the rules was allowed).”

At face value, it seems rather obvious that House Republicans involved in the inquiry weren’t especially interested in learning the facts about what transpired. But given the circumstances, the GOP members’ passive indifference isn’t the only problem.

Democrats have used this process to acquire damning information that may soon be used to impeach the sitting American president. Even if Republicans are driven entirely by partisan instinct, and even if their sole focus is trying to help Trump, the latest transcripts suggest they’re not pursuing their goals especially well.

Not to put too fine a point on this, but GOP members are failing in a comprehensive way: they’re not shielding Trump; they’re not uncovering relevant facts; they’re not even creating some kind of compelling counternarrative.

They are instead spinning their wheels, getting nowhere. Even officials in the White House have no reason to be pleased with the House Republicans’ haphazard and time-wasting tactics.