As the contentious impeachment effort continues in the U.S. House of Representatives, one Florida Congressman is spearheading an effort to open up the process for public display.
On Wednesday morning, Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz, with House Minority Whip Steve Scalise at his side, held a press conference in the basement of the Capitol Building, outside of the closed-door committee room where the House Democrats are conducting their baseless impeachment inquiry in the shadows of democracy.
Dozens of Republican members of Congress joined, including Florida Reps. Michel Waltz, Bill Posey and Ross Spano, calling for transparency in their witch hunt against President Trump.
Once the GOP members entered the hearing room, Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff went to the sergeant-at-arms to ask how to deal with the interruption. One issue was the SCIF chamber is a secure location where electronic devices are not permitted, and some of the members who entered were spotted with phones and smart watches. But the move was designed to highlight the actions of Schiff and his Democratic allies, who have been manipulating the process and controlling the dissemination of what information they have obtained.
This is an especially ironic series of events given that, for the longest time, Schiff has been a loud proponent of transparency, demanding for years during the Russian collusion that all evidence be revealed and documents released, for the good of public knowledge. He even gave voice to this demand in the early stages of this Ukrainian call/whistleblower event. However, things have suddenly shifted on this front.
There have been numerous instances in this latest call for impeachment in which Adam Schiff has changed his narrative, a sure sign that the facts they insist are there have not materialized. First, there was the claim that President Trump threatened the Ukrainian leader; then the appearance of a quid pro quo arrangement was deemed impeachable. Both accusations have eroded from headlines. Schiff, then, in a live hearing, gave a false reading of content he claimed was in the phone transcript -- but later declared that what he engaged in was “parody”.
Now, after long declaring he had no prior knowledge of the whistleblower’s claims, we have come to learn that there had been meetings between Schiff, his staff, and the whistleblower weeks prior to their report being submitted. Since this revelation Schiff -- the loud proponent of transparency in D.C. -- has been nothing but evasive in the details. He has suggested the whistleblower does not need to testify nor face questioning, and has even said their testimony is no longer necessary, as the call transcript is sufficient. He has conducted interviews in hearings behind closed doors, and has been shutting out Republican figures from hearings.
It was last week when Matt Gaetz was escorted out of one impeachment meeting when Schiff declared that he had no standing because he was not a member of an approved committee. When Fiona Hill was testifying last week, Gaetz was ordered to leave because the hearing was conducted by those on the Intelligence, Foreign Affairs, and Oversight committees. Gaetz is not a member of those.
But, as he pointed out following his ouster, Jerry Nadler, chairman of the Judiciary Committee, started the impeachment process in the first place. Gaetz does sit on that committee. So, by this logic, Schiff approves of the process originating in Judiciary, but the members have no standing in the process going forward.
The Florida Democratic Party issued a rebuttal letter in the wake of this action. "Matt Gaetz, along with fellow Florida Rep. Ross Spano and with the blessing of House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, barged into a secure room designed to allow members of Congress to be briefed on classified and sensitive information," the Dems wrote. "Storming the room was widely condemned and has alarmed national security experts."
Sounds drastic, all the "storming" and "barging," until you see the video of the group walking very slowly and ambling their way into the chamber.
Of course, the dramatic interpretations from the Democrats and the press differ greatly from the interpretations of similar actions when Nancy Pelosi and several major Dems staged a sit-in back in 2016 during the gun debate. That was hailed in the media as a brave stance taken by noble leaders.
There's been wide coverage of the Wednesday morning stand-in, but what remains to be seen is if this will shed any media light on the actions of Adam Schiff in the past few weeks. He has manipulated and contorted the process in an effort to generate enough momentum to get an impeachment in the works. So far, the press has ignored how many times he has changed his story and clouded the process by altering the parameters and holding hidden meetings.
Wednesday’s actions have at least highlighted some of this. Maybe it will provoke Schiff, the man who calls for transparency, to be more open with his actions and any findings he manages to collect.
Brad Slager, a Fort Lauderdale freelance writer, wrote this story exclusively for Sunshine State News. He writes on politics and the industry and his stories appear in such publications as RedState and The Federalist.