Should all of President Trump’s House impeachment hearings be held in public, or should some parts remain private?
Since the House of Representatives’ impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump was announced in September, debate and controversy has surrounded how that process would play out.
Among the people the House has already requested or subpoenaed to testify — whether they have yet or not — include Defense Secretary Mark Esper, former Ukrainian Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch, current Ukrainian Ambassador Bill Taylor, current E.U. Ambassador Gordon Sondland, former Special Envoy Kurt Volker and Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani.
What the bill does
House Resolution 633 would require the House’s upcoming impeachment process be conducted entirely in public. Specifically, the bill mentions hearings, witness interviews, document productions and examinations, and proceedings.
It was introduced in the House on October 16 by Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL5).
What supporters say
Supporters argue that a process — and a potential outcome — with such drastic consequences for the American citizenry should be fully exposed to them.
“Democrats are excluding the American people from the entire process,” Rep. Brooks said in a press release. “The American people deserve the right to witness this impeachment process and hear unfiltered witness testimony.”
“But Democrats instead adamantly seek to deny the American people the ability to judge the merits of impeachment efforts based solely on firsthand information, not gossip and hearsay,” Rep. Brooks continued. “The veil of secrecy must be lifted and the selective leaking of deceptive testimony without context must end.”
What opponents say
Opponent counter that secrecy during impeachment hearings, even if it may look bad, actually preserves the legitimacy of the investigation and the evidence.
“If witnesses could tailor their testimony to other witnesses, they [Republicans] would love for one witness to be able to hear what another witness says, so that they can know what they can give away and what they can’t give away, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA28), chair of the House Intelligence Committee, said on CBS’s Face the Nation. “There’s a reason why investigations and grand jury proceedings for example — and I think this is analogous to a grand jury proceeding — are done out of the public view, initially.”
“Now we may very well call some of the same witnesses, or all the same witnesses, in public hearings as well,” Rep. Schiff continued. “But we want to make sure that we meet the needs of the investigation and not give the president or his legal minions the opportunity to tailor their testimony — and in some cases, fabricate testimony — to suit their interests.”
Odds of passage
The bill has attracted 38 House cosponsors, all Republicans. It awaits a potential vote in the House Ethics or House Rules Committee.
Odds of passage are virtually none in the Democratic-controlled House. According to an ongoing tally compiled and regularly updated by the New York Times, not one House Republican currently supports the impeachment inquiry.