Impeachment update: Republicans complain about the public hearings that they asked for

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On Wednesday, two key diplomats with the Trump administration testified publically in Congress against Trump’s dealings with Ukraine.

The Democratic-led impeachment inquiry has sought to prove Trump pressured Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate an American citizen and political rival in exchange for military aid. 

The testimonies of both State Department official George Kent and Bill Taylor, a top U.S. diplomat to Ukraine, have armed Democrats with more evidence of that quid pro quo, more tightly linking the president to possible high crimes.

But one of the unsurprising headlines coming out of Day 1 of testimony on Capitol Hill was the whining. For weeks Republicans have criticized the closed nature of the impeachment inquiry. Now, they’re wringing their hands about the public hearings broadcast on television.

Rep. Louie Gohmert of East Texas took to Twitter to complain about the media presence — when you’re losing, attack the media, right? — in the hearing room, where he tweeted a selfie with the caption “8 tables of media in between witnesses and the House Judiciary Committee Members of jurisdiction who vote on articles of impeachment #SchiffMediaCircus.” 

Yet Gohmert had previously pushed for the hearings to be made open to the public. He had been critical of the fact that early impeachment hearings were held behind closed doors. 

“That is garbage,” Gohmert was reported saying in USA Today. “This is an insane asylum, and it’s clear the inmates are running it, because the elected people … said we want you to participate.”

Gohmert even went as far as to join a group of House Republicans, including Reps. Pete Olson of Sugar Land and Brian Babin of Woodville in storming the Capitol’s secret bunker to protest the closed hearings. 

If Republicans did not want the press in the room, they probably shouldn’t have asked for the process to be made open.

Furthermore, the GOP defense to Wednesday’s hearing failed to explain how President Trump didn’t abuse his power, which is what the miles-long fact pattern shows. Instead, Republicans lob ad hominem attacks, including against Rep. Adam Schiff and the whistleblower who triggered the investigation in the first place. 

Rep. John Ratcliffe of Northeast Texas got into a fiery exchange with Ambassador to Ukraine Bill Taylor. Ratcliffe asked Taylor, “[W]here is the impeachable offense in that call?” He then shouted as Taylor tried to answer the question.

More hearings are scheduled for this week and next.

Photo: Saul Loeb – Pool/Getty Images

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