When the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence begins public hearings today on whether President Donald Trump’s behavior warrants impeachment, a trio of Ohio Republican Congress members will be thrust into the spotlight.
The committee is composed of 13 Democrats and 9 Republicans. While no Democrats on the committee are from Ohio, its GOP members include Mike Turner of Dayton, Brad Wenstrup of Cincinnati, and Rep. Jim Jordan of Champaign County, who was put on the committee Friday by House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy.
Although Jordan is actually the top Republican on the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, McCarthy said he added Jordan to the committee that will conduct the first public impeachment hearings to “ensure more accountability and transparency in this sham process.”
Democrats say it was improper for Trump to seek a political favor in exchange for releasing aid to Ukraine, while McCarthy, Jordan and other Republicans say the hearings are part of an attempted “coup” to oust a duly elected president who did nothing wrong.
Jordan has attended most of the closed depositions on the Ukraine matter, and is among Trump’s most vigorous public defenders. He’s expected to continue his fiery advocacy for Trump during the hearings.
Although witnesses have testified the aid was being withheld until Ukraine began the investigation Trump wanted, Jordan and other Republicans insist there was no “quid pro quo.” He notes Ukraine got the the aid without conducting the investigation. And he has called for public testimony by the anonymous whistleblower whose initial complaint about Trump triggered the impeachment inquiry.
“They are trying to impeach the President of the United States less than 13 months before an election based on an anonymous whistleblower with no firsthand knowledge who has a bias against the president,” Jordan declared at a recent press conference. “It is reported that the whistleblower worked with Vice President Biden and on it goes. The American people see this for what it is because the American people are fair people, they are just people, they are people with common sense and they will not tolerate this.”
The whistelblower’s complaint has recently been corroborated by other witnesses.
Jordan is also a member of the House Judiciary Committee, which is expected to draft articles of impeachment against Trump when the Intelligence Committee hearings conclude.
Turner has said it wasn’t ‘okay’ for Trump to ask Ukraine for probe
Turner, a former Dayton mayor, made headlines at a September hearing on the whistleblower complaint by saying that a July conversation where Trump asked Ukrainian President Volodymr Zelensky to investigate Biden’s son, Hunter, was “not okay,” and was “disappointing to the American public.”
Nonetheless, he also said the conversation wasn’t correctly described by the whistleblower, and notes there’s a difference between something being “not okay” and it being an impeachable offense. Turner says many Democrats have been eager to impeach Trump since he was first elected, describing those calls for impeachment as “an assault on the electorate, not just this president.”
He has also criticized Democrats for initially interviewing impeachment witnesses in closed sessions, and accused them of “selectively leaking false information that is sometimes blatantly contrary to witness testimony.”
“This is a process that needs to be open for public scrutiny,” Turner wrote last month in a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. “Something so incredibly important as removing the President of the United States and undoing our electoral proceedings cannot be done in secret.”
Wenstrup, a U.S. Army Reserve colonel who served as a surgeon in Iraq, also views the hearings as an attempt by Democrats to find any reason to impeach Trump.
“The process so far seems to be focused more on opinions rather than facts,” said a statement from Wenstrup. “Democrats have not been focused on finding the truth, but rather on influencing public opinion toward a predetermined conclusion of impeachment.”
Wenstrup has also criticized Democrats for not calling in witnesses that Republicans would like to interview. Those whom Republicans want the committee to publicly question include the whistleblower and Hunter Biden, who served on the board of a Ukrainian gas company called Burisma Holdings while his father was vice president.
The Intelligence Committee’s Democratic chairman, Adam Schiff of California, says he won’t interview those witnesses because he doesn’t want to “carry out the same sham investigation into the Bidens or debunked conspiracies about 2016 U.S. election interference that President Trump pressed Ukraine to conduct for his personal political benefit.”