Schiff v. Gaetz: The Transcript of a Showdown Behind Closed Doors

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As we all know, the members of the House took it to heart when Donald Trump instructed them to fight harder during the impeachment depositions in the basement of the Capitol Building. We had only heard second hand reports of Gaetz’s attempt to barge the meeting. Now we have the transcripts, and the intensity drips of the page.

Fiona Hill’s transcript was released yesterday and it captured the standoff minutes into the session. Schiff interrupts Minority leader Rep. Jim Jordan’s opening statement, to ask whether there is anyone in the room not on the Intelligence, Foreign Affairs or Oversight committees that are conducting the closed-door portion of the investigation.

Schiff: “Mr. Gaetz, you’re not permitted to be in the room,”

Gaetz disagrees: “I am on the Judiciary Committee,” I thought the Judiciary Committee had jurisdiction over impeachment,”

Schiff asks him to “please leave.”

Minority Leader Jordan:  “Mr. Chairman, really?”

Schiff: “Yes, really.”

Gaetz begins to respond: “You’re going to include Members of Congress on committees that have roles of impeachment —”

Schiff: “Mr. Gaetz, take your statement to the press. They do you no good here. So, please, absent yourself,”

Gaetz fighting back: “You’re going to have someone remove me from the hearing?”

Schiff responds with the best answer for the moment: “You’re going to remove yourself.”

Jordan got into the fray, backing Gaetz, stating that Gaetz was going to stay and listen to the testimony.

Gaetz then demanded that Schiff cite the rule by which Schiff could remove him from the meeting. Schiff responded that the depositions were closed sessions.

Jordan didn’t want to engage the “rule” request and instead tried a more practical argument around the rules: “Mr. Chairman, I think in the 20 hours of testimony we’ve heard in the two previous interviews, there have been a grand total of 12 members of Congress present,” Jordan argues. “I don’t think it’s going to hurt to have a 13th member actually hear something that, in my judgment, all 435 members of Congress should be entitled to hear.”

Schiff wasn’t buying it and shot back: “Mr. Gaetz, why don’t you take your spectacle outside? This is not how we conduct ourselves in this committee.”

Gaetz then responds in-kind:  “I’ve seen how you’ve conducted yourself in this committee, and I’d like to be here to observe.”

That did it. Schiff responded with the leverage afforded the leader of the committee. “I do want to say that this dilatory tactic will come out of the minority’s time for questioning.”

The transcripts ends at that point. A period of time passes without any record and resumes at 10:43 a.m. The general counsel for the Intelligence Committee, Maher Bitar, states that the House Parliamentarian ruled that Gaetz is not allowed to be present.

Jordan slipped in one last point:  “The Parliamentarian was also clear that there is no precedent, no basis for docking anyone’s time, that this was a legitimate question and not dilatory in any sense.”

The deposition then began in substance.

The anger in the room is palpable, and not without reason. Fiona Hill testified to details that Lt. Colonel Vindman addressed. She also made new allegations in critical matters we noted yesterday concerning “death threats” and that she and Ambassador Yovanovich had been subject to a “pretty ruthless, nasty defamation campaign.” This is critical testimony and damning for a White House that asserts it did nothing wrong, everything was “perfect,” and everyone should “get over it.”

These moments, ones at which we might chuckle over Gaetz’s “over the top” theatrics, are determining nothing less than the future of democracy. The showdown involved a serious House rule, one which Rep. Jordan tried to act around as a practical matter. It takes admirable discipline to remain composed (note that Gaetz did not seem composed, whereas Jordan and Schiff retained their analytical ability). These “rules” represent the law, and the principle that no one is above the law. Waving away laws or rules that may seem silly or harmless, “adding a 13th member,” is not harmless. The rules are deeply symbolic and procedurally important.

The intensity of such showdowns will only grow as hearings become public. With each damning claim and embarrassing detail, the pressure will grow among Republicans to find a way, any way, to silence the witness or the hearing itself. Tempers will flair well-beyond what we see here. It is going to be ugly and embarrassing, while also being critically important.

With respect to the future of democracy and the rule of law, one could argue that nothing is more important. Oh, and I suspect we have not heard the last from Rep. Gaetz.

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Peace, y’all

Jason

jmiciak@yahoo.com and on Twitter: @MiciakZoom

 

 

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15 Comments on "Schiff v. Gaetz: The Transcript of a Showdown Behind Closed Doors"

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Bareshark
Guest

Yeah, I fully expect Gaetz to be part of a post-Trump GOP. He comes off as an immature suck-up who keeps screaming “Look at me! Look at me!” in that transcript. But said transcript shows Schiff’s extremely low tolerance for BS. Bet you anything he’s boning up on procedure this weekend as well as questions he intends to ask.

Liz
Guest

As a 40+ year professional acting veteran of the NYC stage, I can unequivocally state that theatrics don’t work without substance and honesty to back it up in performance. Gaetz is a fool.

mae
Member

Are you Elizabeth NYC? 😊 If so, I am Cmae. If you aren’t, I apologize.

Liz
Guest

Yes! I am! Thought I’d shorten my “handle” here. 🙂
I did suspect you had done the same thing. How are you? Feeling okay? Hope so.

mae
Member

I am doing better, thanks. Yay! This makes me happy!

Liz
Guest

So glad to hear you are doing better!

Bareshark
Guest

Well, to be fair, Liz, this bunch is seriously short on substance and honesty.

Liz
Guest

You got that right, Bareshark!

blueman
Member

Dr. Hill didn’t give the thugs a break either. The Republican staff member questioning her was read the riot act after he tried to work the stupid server crap into the questioning. She went on and on about what harm to our national security this crap of Trump’s was causing.

Carol O
Guest
If only we’d heard the last from this nimrod. It’s going to get messy and nasty with the repugs going low, way low, in their desperate attempt to distract us all from the inevitable release of info that does not support their fake news version of things. Instead of repugs having to create a strategy to deal with the impeachment inquiry, how about just telling the truth for a change? The abasement these clowns are willing to descend to in order to protect tRump is astounding. Can you imagine the squealing they would be doing if Dems did anything remotely… Read more »
Bareshark
Guest

Was there ever anything that convinced you that it was going to go some other way, Carol? The truth will set them free…to go looking for other work far from the levers of power. For a bunch like this, that prospect was always unthinkable.

Carol O
Guest

I’ve always expected the worst from these losers, but now that it’s closer, I just feel flinchy and clenchy. I’m dreading the ugliness to come, the verbal vomit, the mental gyrations, the insanity to support the insane one and his minions. Buckle up, it’s going to be a rough ride.

underwriter505
Guest

My intuitive reaction that we will have heard the last from Gaetz only when his coffin is lowered into his grave was subsequently tempered by the thought of the likelihood that he will have made tapes.

anastasjoy
Member

Hopefully if it’s due to driving drunk, he won’t take anyone else with him.

anastasjoy
Member

Matt Gaetz is really a worthless, ignorant compromised piece of garbage.