Dozens of Republicans, led by Florida Congressman Matt Gaetz, stormed a secure hearing room on Wednesday where testimony was set to take place regarding the impeachment inquiry looking into President Donald Trump’s conduct in office.
Gaetz and others tried to enter the hearing because they felt it was being done in secret, and that they deserved to be involved in the process, even though Republicans who sit on the committees are taking part and asking questions of key witnesses, prior reporting from HillReporter.com detailed.
Many were critical of the move, which some deemed as a political stunt. On Fox News Thursday morning, the discussion turned to whether this was an appropriate action or not. And while some of the hosts on “Fox & Friends” appeared sympathetic to Gaetz and other Republicans, Judge Andrew Napolitano dismissed the arguments they were making, defending the process as being properly carried out.
“I read the House rules. And as frustrating as it may be to have these hearings going on behind closed doors, the hearings for which Congressman Schiff is presiding, they are consistent with the rules,” Napolitano said, according to a report from Raw Story.
Host Brian Kilmeade spoke incredulously about the way things work. “They can make up any rules they want,” he suggested, continuing to blame Democrats for trying to hide things.
Napolitano corrected him:
“When were the rules written last? In January of 2015. And who signed them? John Boehner. And who enacted them, a Republican majority.”
He also pointed out that what’s going on now isn’t inconsistent with impeachment inquiries in the past.
During Watergate, “[Congressman] Peter Rodino, instead of holding the hearings in secret, interviewed the witnesses in secret,” Napolitano recalled. “Congressman Henry Hyde in the Clinton impeachment, witnesses interviewed in secret and presented in public. Congressman Schiff, with a different set of rules, choose to do an initial set of interviews in secret.”
Andrew Napolitano: "As frustrating as it may be to have these hearings going on behind closed doors … they are consistent with the rules. … When were the rules written last? In January of 2015. And who signed them? John Boehner. And who enacted them? A Republican majority." pic.twitter.com/Zl10ZNugf4
— Bobby Lewis (@revrrlewis) October 24, 2019
When articles for impeachment eventually get made, the secrecy will end and the debate over the merits of the accusations will begin, Napolitano further explained.
“Eventually there will be a public presentation of this, at which point lawyers for the president can cross-examine these people and challenge them,” he said.
Napolitano added that the situation was akin to “presenting a case to a grand jury, which is never done in public,” he added.
The comments from Napolitano will likely earn him the ire of Trump himself. The president has gone on the attack quite a few times against Napolitano in recent months, clashing with him over his legal observations on Fox News that suggest Trump is sometimes on the wrong side of an issue.
In April of this year, Trump called one of Napolitano’s legal arguments on the network “very dumb,” and accused him of trying to get a Supreme Court nomination in the past, HillReporter.com reported.
“I said NO, he has been very hostile!” Trump wrote in a tweet.