A Monday impeachment hearing headed by House Judiciary Committee Chair Jerry Nadler (D-NY) intended to showcase the evidence against President Donald Trump turned into a chaotic near-circus when a protester had to be forcibly removed, and Republicans objected to a Democrat lawyer acting as both a witness and a questioner, The Atlantic reported.
As the questioning of congressional staff attorneys Barry Berke, Daniel Goldman, and Stephen Castor began, a man in the gallery began to shout about Trump’s innocence and what a “sham” the hearings were. His presence should have been taken as an omen about what was to come, as Republicans vociferously denounced Berke and Goldman for pushing impeachment.
Points of order and other parliamentary techniques were used by Republicans in an attempt to slow the pace of the questioning, but nothing would deter Democrats from moving forward. In fact, we now know that Democrats were likely already drafting articles of impeachment as the hearing took place, since two such articles were publicly announced less than 24 hours after the hearing ended.
Democrats were in such a rush to get those articles out in front of the nation that they canceled Republicans’ chance to have their own day of hearings. This unauthorized rule change could have been at least partially responsible for the Republicans’ obvious anger during the proceeding.
Another reason Republicans may have been agitated is that they wanted Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA) to testify about the report he submitted to the Judiciary Committee, but Schiff and Nadler refused to let that happen.
Why? Because, despite the congressman’s denials, Schiff’s staff was in contact with the whistleblower before that person’s complaint was even filed, and Schiff may know more than he would want to admit under oath about how those events unfolded Republicans made Schiff’s conspicuous absence known to all by displahing a poster of the California Democrat’s face on a milk carton.
Democrat double duty
Another infuriating element of the day’s hearing for Republicans was the fact that Berke first answered questions as a witness, then assumed the role of counsel for the Democrats and asked questions of Goldman.
“He can either ask or answer. He can’t do both,” ranking Republican Doug Collins (GA), the committee’s top Republican, protested. “It’s just wrong!” Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) said in clear exasperation.
Berke was actually never sworn in as a witness, although Nadler referred to him as one. All in all, the Democrats did not help their case with any of these antics.
Impeachment losing steam
The case for impeachment has weakened even further as public hearings have been held over the last few weeks.
Despite news headlines calling each witness’s testimony damning for Trump, recent polling suggests that fewer people support impeachment now than a month ago.
While House Democrats might have the votes to impeach Trump, their success will almost certainly come to a grinding halt in the Senate where a seemingly unattainable 67 votes are needed to declare Trump guilty and remove him from office.