One consistent critique of the manner in which House Democrats have managed their impeachment effort against President Donald Trump is that the leaders of the push, be it Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) or committee chairs like Adam Schiff (D-CA) and Jerry Nadler (D-NY), have been making up or creatively reinterpreting the rules as they go.
According to Breitbart, that appears to be exactly what Nadler did on Thursday during the House Judiciary Committee’s markup session on articles of impeachment when he cited a litany of dubious excuses for why he was rejecting a request from ranking member Doug Collins (R-GA) for a minority day of hearings, something to which Republicans are entitled, pursuant to House rules.
Nadler ignores the rules
Under H. Res. 660, which authorized and governs the ongoing impeachment effort, the ranking minority member of a committee is ostensibly allowed to call and subpoena witnesses — albeit only if the committee chair and majority vote approve, which they consistently have declined to do.
That prompted Collins to repeatedly invoke in multiple hearings House of Representatives Rule XI 12(j)(1), which allows the minority party to call for their own day of hearings in which their own witnesses can be heard. The Georgia congressman demanded that Republicans be permitted to hold such a hearing and call witnesses prior to any vote being taken on the articles of impeachment themselves.
Nadler finally addressed the matter on Thursday — reading from prepared text — when Collins invoked the rule again as a point of order, only to summarily dismiss the request with several mind-boggling interpretations of the rule and citation of dubious precedent as his excuse for the denial of the minority’s clearly stated rights.
No hearing for you
In response to Collins’ request, Nadler said, “The House rule does not require me to schedule a hearing on a particular day, nor does it require me to schedule the hearing as a condition precedent to taking any specific legislative action.”
Basically, Nadler’s interpretation of the rule meant that Republicans would eventually be granted their day of hearings — after the articles of impeachment had already been drafted and voted upon, which would pretty much defeat the whole purpose of the minority hearings.
Nadler implied that the only reason Collins wanted to hold a minority day of hearings was to block or delay the completion of the articles. He then offered several questionable reasons for why his decision should be accepted as “reasonable.”
First, the chairman argued that there was no need for the minority day since the Republican views on the matter had already been heard by virtue of the one witness they’d been allowed to call, law professor Jonathan Turley, and second, he cited the provisions allowing minority subpoenas in H. Res. 660 which he claimed hadn’t been exercised by the minority — ignoring the fact that every effort to exercise those provisions had been blocked by the majority’s party-line votes.
He also again insisted that the minority day rule wasn’t intended to be used as a delay tactic and said there was no precedent for its use in this particular case. He further noted that Democrat requests for minority day hearings in the past had been denied by Republican majorities.
Making it all up as they go
This and other partisan antics by Nadler — summarily gaveling down and overruling Republican objections and points of order — were also seen repeatedly in the Schiff-led hearings in the Intelligence Committee, which came after Pelosi unilaterally launched the impeachment inquiry with an unprecedented press conference, rather than a vote.
If you want to know why Rep. Collins and other Republicans have been on the verge of exploding in anger and frustration over the past several weeks of hearings and debate in the committee, it is stuff like this from Nadler, Schiff, and Pelosi — making up and reinterpreting the rules midstream to find any sort of viable excuse to limit the rights of the minority.