90 Miles From Tyranny : Democrats Reject Republican Amendment Requiring Turnover of Exculpatory Evidence in Impeachment

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Thursday, October 31, 2019

Democrats Reject Republican Amendment Requiring Turnover of Exculpatory Evidence in Impeachment

Democrats on the House Rules Committee rejected all 17 Republican amendments to the proposed resolution on the “impeachment inquiry” against President Donald Trump — including one that would require the other investigating committees to hand over exculpatory evidence to the House Judiciary Committee.

Unlike previous impeachments, there are several committees — not just the House Judiciary Committee — being used to investigate the president, especially the House Intelligence Committee.

As currently written (entirely by Democrats), the resolution says that the chair of the House Intelligence Committee, who is Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), is authorized, but not required, to make depositions public. He is required to prepare a report for the House Judiciary Committee, which will consider articles of impeachment, and is given wide discretion over the contents of that report. He is also required to transmit dissenting views.

Other committees are merely “authorized,” but not required, to hand over “records” or “materials” to the House Judiciary Committee. The (Democratic) chairs of those committees must consult with the ranking member of the (Republican) minority, but seem to have wide discretion over what they transmit.

Rep. Debbie Lesko (R-AZ) proposed that the resolution indicate that the chairs of those committees “shall” be required to transmit exculpatory evidence to the House Judiciary Committee.

“There is no reason why anyone in this body should disagree that all materials must be transferred to the members of Congress on the Judiciary Committee,” she said, adding that it was absurd for members to have to rely on a partial account provided by Schiff. In previous impeachment hearings, she pointed out, the members of the Judiciary Committee would have heard the entire testimony, including exculpatory evidence, themselves.

Rules Committee chair Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA) suggested that there might be national security risks involved in transferring all of the evidence.

Lesko countered that members had been told there was no classified information yet in the inquiry, and that members of both parties could not be expected to vote on impeachment with incomplete information.

Rep. Michael Burgess (R-TX) added that Schiff had previously proved untrustworthy, having claimed falsely to have had no contact with the so-called...

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