Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee Adam Schiff, D-California. (Photo by Gage Skidmore | Creative Commons)
Republicans and Democrats are divided as hearings begin on Capitol Hill
There is a formality to impeachment. It’s not the same as a hearing, this is a House of Congress debating an indictment. It’s solemn event. And the outcome? Well, there are a lot of possibilities.
This is Trahant Reports.
Adam Schiff, D-California, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said the first hearings will begin next week for an impeachment inquiry for President Donald J. Trump.
The first hearing will be Nov. 13 and the second hearing Nov. 15.
This will be the first public airing of any allegations that rise to the level of “high crimes and misdemeanors,” the standard set in the Constitution for removing a president from office.
We already know how divided the House, and the Senate, is already, divided by party identification. But, that is where we begin, not where we end. After public hearings that, too, could change.
There is an interesting range of opinion in the ranks of Indian Country’s representatives in Congress.
Kansas Rep. Sharice Davids, Ho-Chunk, said she supports the House “taking the first step in the impeachment process.” She said she wants to see the people see the facts for themselves.
That’s middle ground in Washington.
New Mexico Rep. Deb Haaland, Laguna Pueblo, said the president “and his friends continue to enrich themselves and abuse their power while New Mexicans are struggling … meanwhile, the president and his administration stonewall Congress and refuse to cooperate with congressional investigations.” She said back in August “they are impeding the ability of Congress to get to the truth.”
And, on the side of the aisle, Republicans Rep. Tom Cole, Chickasaw, and Markwayne Mullin, Cherokeee, of Oklahoma have been opposed to the very process. Cole said this “is not a fair process, it is not an open process, it is not a transparent process. He said, instead, it’s a “limited, closed process with a pre-ordained outcome.”
Mullin said the impeachment inquiry is an attempt to “undo the last election.”
But any outcome is not certain. Democrats, at least right now, do not have enough votes to remove the president.
Another option that could surface down the road is a public censure of some kind from Congress. This is a tool that has been used more than a dozen times, mostly a reprimand of individual serving in the Congress itself.
Congress has other tools, for example, it could strip the salary and benefits from any federal employee who refuses to cooperate with the investigation.
The public will have a say, too. If past impeachment hearings are an indication — there will be a lot of interest (or disinterest). And members of Congress will hear from voters about whether they think the process is fair or not.
So the next few weeks will be history in the making.
I am Mark Trahant.