Rep. Andy Biggs, R-Ariz., at podium, speaks during a news conference in the Capitol Visitor Center outside the Laura Cooper, deputy assistant secretary of defense, deposition related to the House's impeachment inquiry on Wednesday, October 23, 2019.
Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call via AP Images

Many in GOP have ‘simply not shown up’ for impeachment depositions

Updated

As transcripts of the impeachment proceedings come to public light, we’re starting to see the kinds of questions Republicans have asked of witnesses. For GOP members, this isn’t good news: the transcripts show House Republican lawmakers peddling conspiracy theories and pursuing pointless lines of inquiry, instead of trying to learn the facts.

But the transcripts also show something just as notable: while some Republicans used their time during the proceedings poorly, other GOP lawmakers chose not to attend the proceedings at all.

This first came up two weeks ago, when 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.”

Maloney’s observation has now been bolstered by the transcripts themselves, with Roll Call reporting overnight that “most” of the Republicans on the relevant committees “aren’t showing up.”

Republicans have for weeks blasted the closed-door impeachment process, but transcripts released this week of private depositions show most GOP lawmakers on the three panels at the center of the probe have simply not shown up.

The low attendance for most committee Republicans paints a very different picture of a party that recently stormed the secure room where the depositions have been conducted, demanding to participate in the process.

It would be an exaggeration to say none of the GOP members has shown up – some needed to be there to tout conspiracy theories and pursue pointless lines of inquiry – but the members present was heavily tilted in one direction.

At the deposition for Ambassador Gordon Sondland, for example, Roll Call noted that “Democrats outnumbered Republicans more than 2-to-1.”

That’s not because GOP members were excluded; it’s because Republicans chose not to show up for the depositions they were invited to participate in.

Obviously, the recent stunt in which dozens of House Republicans disrupted the proceedings and demanded access now looks even more ridiculous, but I’m also struck by the scope of the GOP’s laziness.

Not to put too fine a point on this, but presidential impeachment proceedings are not exactly common in the American tradition. Donald Trump’s Ukraine scandal is a major development of historic significance, and elected lawmakers have a responsibility to not only thoroughly prepare for the weighty proceedings, but to also show up, listen, learn, and participate as if they were members of a serious governing party.

Indeed, even if these House Republicans were indifferent to our constitutional system and its demands, GOP members should want to be there for their own partisan purposes. By showing up, Republicans could have perhaps poked holes in witnesses’ depositions or asked questions intended to help the White House.

But as we discussed yesterday, GOP members are failing in a comprehensive way: they’re not shielding Trump; they’re not uncovering relevant facts; they’re not creating some kind of compelling counternarrative; and in many cases, they’re not even showing up for hearings.

No one, not even Trump, benefits from their indolence.