Judging from his latest Facebook post, Congressman Cline is actually proud of participating in a pathetic, desperate stunt that disrupted a Congressional hearing Wednesday morning.
(Watch Cline enter at 0.11.)
And if Cline joined his colleagues in entering a secure facility with a cell phone or other electronic device, he may have put national security at risk.
Responding to the complaints of Cline and other Republicans about hearings “behind closed doors,” The Washington Post’s Amber Phillips makes the following points:
All Republicans on the three committees involved in this inquiry (Intelligence, Foreign Affairs and Oversight) are allowed into the hearings. Lawmakers from other committees are not allowed in, be they Republican or Democrat.
These hearings are taking place behind closed doors because lawmakers think things will be more productive that way. “The private ones always produce better results.” That is not a Democrat we are quoting. It is a Republican, former congressman Trey Gowdy, who conducted the Benghazi investigation into Hillary Clinton a few years ago and pushed back against criticism that most of the hearings were in private. A Democratic aide working on the impeachment inquiry emailed around Gowdy’s comments on Wednesday to underscore that when the shoe was on the other foot, Republicans were fine with having things behind closed doors.
The Democrats may soon hold public hearings, reports CNN. Even when those hearings are public, lawmakers not on the key committees will not be able to ask questions.
This is not a court of law. Another talking point Republicans are using is to compare this impeachment proceeding to a criminal trial. In a criminal trial, the accused gets to sit through the prosecution, call his own witnesses, present his own defense.
But this is not a court of law, this is Congress. And the Constitution gives Congress broad latitude to decide how to conduct its impeachment inquiry. It can have a vote to formalize it, or not. It can hold closed-door hearings with witnesses, or it can open them to the public. How the House gets from considering impeaching a president to taking a vote to impeach the president is up to it. The president is not being charged with a crime, so the rules of a criminal trial do not apply.
Of course none of these Republican stunts will change the course of events or influence public opinion.
In a Quinnipiac University poll released Wednesday, 55 percent of voters voiced support for the impeachment inquiry, the highest level of support recorded in Quinnipiac surveys. Forty-three percent opposed the inquiry.
In the end, House Republicans’ disruption of Wednesday’s impeachment hearings also did little to derail the effort.
After the long delay, the planned impeachment testimony of Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Laura Cooper resumed inside the secure facility.
If it’s part of an effort by Cline and others to display their unflagging loyalty to President Trump, the question increasingly becomes: Why?