Editorial: Open impeachment process to public view

The Detroit News

Democrats are getting exactly what they want right now. By keeping impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump under wraps, they are controlling the messaging and what the public knows. What’s out there doesn’t look great, but we should see it for ourselves.

Politics shouldn't get in the way of transparency. It's too important. 

This is only the fourth time in U.S. history that a president has faced a formal impeachment inquiry, so there’s not a lot of precedent.

Rep. Andy Biggs, R-Ariz., speaks at a news conference in front of House Republicans after Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Laura Cooper arrived for a closed door meeting to testify as part of the House impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump, Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2019, on Capitol Hill in Washington.

But what precedent there is, Democrats have ignored. Prior to official impeachment probes into former presidents Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton, the full House took a vote. That’s not happened here, and members should be given the opportunity to go on the record with a vote.

In this case, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced the impeachment inquiry late last month — before she or other members of Congress had seen the full whistleblower report, or the transcript of the July phone call between Trump and the Ukrainian president that sparked the saga.

House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff, D-California, has happily complied. Other committees are involved, but Schiff is running the show, selectively leaking juicy tidbits while keeping everything else secret.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Adam Schiff of Calif., speaks to the media as he returns to a closed door meeting where Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland, testifies as part of the House impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

This process would be better served in the judiciary committee, where it was handled in previous instances.

Impeachment proceedings heated up last week, with American diplomat to Ukraine William Taylor’s testimony seeming to implicate the president in a “quid pro quo.”

At issue is whether Trump chose to cut aid to Ukraine as a tool to coerce that government to investigate Joe Biden and his son Hunter’s former business dealings in the country, in addition to 2016 U.S. election interference.

Taylor’s opening statement was pretty damning, but that is all the public's been allowed to see, so we don’t know what transpired in the rest of the testimony, what questions he received or how he answered them.

New York Republican Rep. Lee Zeldin, was present for Taylor’s testimony, and tweeted the following: “This transcript should be released ASAP along w ALL of the other transcripts. Much of his leaked opening statement collapsed, but Schiff keeps the public in the dark on that!”

House Minority Whip Steve Scalise, R-Louisiana, and other disgruntled Republicans are becoming more vocal in their opposition to the process and the lack of transparency. Scalise has spearheaded a House resolution that would open the process to all members, including access to depositions and interviews.

Similarly, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, on Thursday introduced a resolution chastising the Democratic-controlled House for its “closed door, illegitimate impeachment inquiry.”

This is not the time for political games. If the accusations against the president are credible, let the American people hear them and make their own judgments.