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Republicans can't complain about impeachment inquiry rules — they wrote and passed them, Fox News legal analyst says


How quickly we forget

Aaron P. Bernstein/Getty Images

House Republicans are making a big deal out of the fact that House Democrats are holding impeachment inquiry proceedings behind closed doors.

By big deal, I mean a group of Republican U.S. representatives gathered together to barge into a secure room at the Capitol where a witness was being interviewed, as a form of protest.

Gohmert and House Republicans Storm the SCIF

One might be led to believe, based on the outrage and behavior from House Republicans, that only Democrats are allowed in these depositions. That is not the case, however. In fact, a dozen of the Republicans that joined the protest were actually allowed to be in the deposition, because they sit on the relevant committees.

That's not the only problem with all this. Not only are some Republicans allowed to participate in these impeachment inquiry interviews, but Republicans are also responsible for the reality that it's actually perfectly OK for these inquiry hearings to be closed to the public. Fox News senior legal analyst Andrew Napolitano explained (via Newsweek):

"When were the rules written last?" the legal expert asked. "In January of 2015. And who signed them? John Boehner [the Republican speaker of the House]. And who enacted them? A Republican majority," he asserted.

"The rules say that this level of inquiry, this initial level of inquiry, can be done in secret," Napolitano said. He pointed out that he personally wishes he could view the testimony and that it was public, but he added that the impeachment investigation was thus far consistent with the ones conducted against Presidents Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton. Nixon inevitably resigned to avoid impeachment, while Clinton was formally impeached by the House but not removed by the Senate.

"Eventually, there will be a public presentation of this, at which lawyers for the president can cross-examine these people and challenge them," Napolitano explained. "This is like presenting a case to a grand jury, which is never done in public."

Some Republicans, such as Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), were not pleased with the dramatic protest by House Republicans. Graham called the protest "nuts."

"That's not the way to do it," Graham said.

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