Last week, dozens of Republican lawmakers stormed a closed-door impeachment inquiry hearing at the U.S. Capitol building, disrupting planned depositions from witnesses whose statements were deemed important for the committees’ research into the president’s conduct.
The GOP leaders did so to protest the fact that they were disallowed from entering the room. Per the rules of the impeachment inquiry, however, only members of the committees involved can be included in the process. And as prior reporting from HillReporter.com noted, Republican lawmakers who sit on those committees are allowed into the room to take part, including questioning witnesses directly.
In spite of those facts, critics continue to lash out at the process. But one former Congressman who is a staunch ally of President Donald Trump’s says that’s just the process, and that those who criticize it are wrong to do so.
Trey Gowdy, who was the chair of the House Oversight Committee when he served in Congress, is no stranger to how that process works. In his capacity as chair, he oversaw the Benghazi inquiry — he and other lawmakers questioned several witnesses behind closed doors himself.
When asked in an interview over the weekend whether he felt the process occurring presently was constructive, he responded in the affirmative, saying it was, “100 percent.”
“You can’t pick and choose which aspects of due process you’re going to use,” Gowdy explained, according to reporting from Newsweek.
“I think if you’re going to have private investigations with unlimited time for questioning and cross examining witnesses that’s a good thing,” he added, noting that he once “threw a Republican out of a hearing because he was not a member of the committee” when he was chair of Oversight.
— Face The Nation (@FaceTheNation) October 27, 2019
Gowdy even noted that Rep. Adam Schiff (D-California), who is leading the impeachment inquiry as head of the House Intelligence Committee, is being more transparent than Republicans give him credit for. Schiff has held “more press conferences this weekend” than investigators like Robert Mueller or John Durham “have had in their lives,” Gowdy said.
The former lawmaker did take issue with some aspects of the inquiry, however. “I do understand the Republican frustration with the current investigation,” Gowdy said, noting that he’s not particularly fond of leaks coming out from the inquiry’s hearings.
It’s possible that Gowdy’s remarks could hurt his future employment prospects. Earlier this month, it was announced that Gowdy would be working as part of Trump’s legal team to defend the president against the prospects of impeachment.
Later on, however, it was reported that Gowdy had actually turned down a position to lead the impeachment defense, citing a need to be with family. He is presently slated to be part of the legal team in January, when he won’t be in violation of rules against former members of Congress serving in such roles too soon after leaving office, Fox News reported.
Gowdy’s opinions run directly against Trump’s own attitudes about the inquiry. As recently as this past weekend, Trump derided the hearings in a tweet, congratulating Republicans in the Senate for a resolution “condemning the Do Nothing Democrats for their Witch Hunt Impeachment inquiry, behind closed doors in the basement of the United States Capitol.”