WASHINGTON — All four U.S. senators from Nebraska and Iowa have joined fellow Republicans lining up behind a resolution that takes issue with the ongoing House impeachment inquiry.
That resolution calls on the House to hold a formal impeachment vote and provide President Donald Trump with due process, including the ability to confront his accusers and call witnesses on his behalf.
Nebraska Sen. Ben Sasse has at times been sharply critical of Trump, but he said in a press release Thursday that he’s backing the resolution. Sasse reiterated his criticisms of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee.
“I’ll say it again: Speaker Pelosi and Congressman Schiff are running a partisan clown show in the House,” he said. “This resolution says Congress should act like adults. Knock it off with the hyperventilating for TV cameras, start with an open vote in the House, and actually care about a process that the American people could have confidence in.”
The resolution comes after a group of House Republicans that included Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, poured into a secure briefing facility to disrupt a deposition there and protest the closed-door nature of interviews thus far.
That kind of action has earned tweeted praise from Trump, who called on Capitol Hill Republicans this week to fight harder to protect him.
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The resolution casts the ongoing inquiry as an unfair process with limited opportunities for Republican participation.
Democrats have responded to those criticisms by noting that Republicans on the relevant committees can participate in the interviews.
And some have compared the current phase of the inquiry to a grand jury proceeding, suggesting that it only makes sense to gather information discreetly before pressing forward with the more formal process.
They say Republicans are attacking the process as a way to distract from mounting evidence that Trump inappropriately pressured Ukraine to investigate a political rival, former Vice President Joe Biden.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., accused Republicans of glaring hypocrisy for not training their ire on the administration’s moves to block witnesses from testifying and otherwise impede the investigation.
“They don’t want to open the process up — they want to shut it down,” Schumer said on the Senate floor Thursday. “If the White House and its congressional allies truly wanted an open and transparent process, the White House would provide the documents Congress requested. It wouldn’t defy subpoenas. It wouldn’t forbid executive branch employees from testifying. You can’t just flip a switch: one day suppress evidence and the next argue for a transparent and open process.”
Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, told reporters that she’s just trying to protect standards and norms.
“Democrats have been so heck-bent on making sure that they impeach this president that they are just randomly acting through this inquiry process,” she said.
Ernst declined to pass judgment on the evidence that has come out about Trump’s activities.
“I can’t go down that path right now,” she said. “Because again, I haven’t seen all of the information.”
At one point, Ernst invoked the “Shifty Schiff” nickname that Trump has used to taunt the congressman.
“I will be sitting in the Senate as a member of the jury, and I will at that time have the facts presented to me — not something that ‘Shifty Schiff’ is out there saying to everybody and making up his own words and his own transcript,” she said. “It will be the actual facts that they will have to present to the Senate, not this horrible show that they have going on in the House.”