In a little-noticed development on Friday, all nine GOP members of the House Intelligence Committee sent a scathing letter to Democratic Chairman Adam Schiff, accusing him of withholding pertinent information and conducting impeachment-related business in a "highly irregular manner." Byron York of the Washington Examiner flagged it:
All nine Republicans on House Intel Committee send letter to Chairman Schiff accusing him of 'withholding the existence of...documents from the minority.' List 21 letters. Also slam 'highly irregular manner' of impeachment investigation. pic.twitter.com/F9K3SHNj4q— Byron York (@ByronYork) October 18, 2019
This is an escalation of longstanding resentments and frustrated accusations leveled against Schiff, whose dishonesty and partisanship have marred his tenure as the leader of this key panel. Here are additional details about the contents of the new letter, as reported by The Federalist:
GOP HPSCI members counted 20 documents that have yet to be shared with the Minority. In the letter, the Minority requests the Majority release all documents to all committee members regardless of party identification. GOP HPSCI members call this move unprecedented: "We expect that the Majority adhere to the Committee’s past precedents and that appropriately cleared staff have immediate access to all documents generated or received by the Committee related to your impeachment inquiry. We see no reason for your withholding of these documents except as a deliberate attempt to hinder the Minority’s participation," [they write].
The missive also states that because of Schiff's seemingly abrupt flip-flop on the importance of the whistleblower testifying (the chairman suddenly turned against this idea after the prospect of potential partisan coordination came to light), their committee's jurisdiction on the question of impeachment no longer applies:
Further, given that you have recently acknowledged that the Committee no longer needs to receive testimony from the whistleblower, your ‘impeachment inquiry’ lacks any relationship with the jurisdiction of this Committee. As you are aware, the Committee was established to conduct crucial oversight of the Intelligence Community, and we are increasingly concerned our normal work is being overlooked in favor of partisan activities best suited for another Committee.
Some observers may be inclined to dismiss the importance of this letter, chalking it up as typical political wrangling -- with Republicans feigning high dudgeon in order to distract from the substance of the inquiry and whip up the president's base. I don't share this view. Without rendering any judgments on the other seven signatories, two names affixed to the above document stand out: (1) Elise Stefanik, a young, serious member from update New York who does not reflexively back Trump or feed red meat to the party faithful, and (2) Will Hurd, a fiercely independent swing district Texan who has frequently criticized and broken with the president...and who is retiring after this term. Hurd cannot be caricatured as a paint-by-numbers partisan. He also has an extensive background in the intelligence world. If he signed a letter objecting to Schiff's tactics, the objections should be taken seriously. I'll leave you with a snippet of a recent Wall Street Journal editorial about Mr. Schiff:
Donald Trump is lucky in his opponents. Hillary Clinton was a bad candidate, and now House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has chosen Rep. Adam Schiff to be the face of impeachment for Democrats. Mrs. Pelosi took the impeachment reins away from Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler and handed them to Mr. Schiff, who has been running secret hearings as Chairman of the Intelligence Committee. Witnesses testify behind closed doors, and Democrats selectively leak the testimony or evidence to the pro-impeachment press in ways that are often distorted or incomplete...“There’s a reason why investigations and grand jury proceedings for example, and I think this is analogous to a grand jury proceeding, are done out of the public view initially,” Mr. Schiff said...A grand jury? As Mr. Schiff knows, a grand jury is a criminal proceeding. Impeachment is a political process in which the House defines the meaning of “high crimes and misdemeanors.” Mr. Schiff wants it both ways: Run his secret hearings like a criminal grand jury, but then impeach Mr. Trump of political offenses even if the President committed no crime. With his every statement and action, Mr. Schiff is making Mr. Trump’s case that this impeachment is a rigged game.