October 24, 2019 | Reading Time: 4 minutes
Why Are Republicans Lying So Much?
Actually, Republicans sit on the committees investigating Trump.
Why are so many Republicans lying so much about the history-making House investigation into impeachable offenses by the president of the United States?
That, to me, is the central question behind yesterday’s publicity stunt by more than 30 House Republicans who broke federal law by barging into a secured room at the Capitol, delaying testimony by a Pentagon official for the coming House inquiry.
These Republicans did not defend Donald Trump on the strength of the evidence for or against the president but instead railed against due process itself. Arizona’s Andy Biggs exemplified their absurd complaint. He said: “This morning, I joined dozens of my colleagues to storm Adam Schiff’s secret, Soviet-style, Stalinist chamber to demand truth, transparency, and due process. We may have received threats for attempting to hear from today’s witness, but we are more resolved than ever to fight.”
Nothing is happening in secret. Republicans have access to the same information Democrats have.
That sounds damning—or it would if it were true. It’s a lie, all of it. The truth: every committee involved in the impeachment process—intelligence, oversight, judiciary, and finance—all of them have Republican members sitting on them. Yes, all of them. That’s how Congress works. And everyone knows this. Every Republican knows this. Their media allies know this. Because they do, we know for sure that the Wednesday editorial in New York Post asking what Democrats are hiding is a malicious lie.
The Republicans are indeed in the minority. They don’t control scheduling and other procedural matters in their respective committees. But we’re talking about dozens of GOP members with complete access to all the information the Democrats have access to. They have a say in how things are done. None of this is unfolding in secret. And yet the Republicans are attacking the process itself, claiming it’s rigged against Trump.
What are they hiding? asked House Minority Whip Steve Scalise after they “stormed” a closed-door session in a SCIF (Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility, where sensitive national security developments are discussed.) “Through those hidden, closed doors over there, Adam Schiff is trying to impeach a president of the United States. Behind closed doors. Literally trying to overturn the results of the 2016 election, a year before Americans get to go to the polls to decide who’s going to be the president.”
Steve Scalise continued: “Maybe in the Soviet Union, this kind of thing is commonplace. This shouldn’t be happening in the United States of America, where they’re trying to impeach a president in secret … The American people deserve better.”
Now that you know the truth—that Republicans have been sitting on impeachment committees from the beginning—you know that these Republicans were in fact protesting other Republicans. In fact, some of these “protesters” actually sit on the committees they were “protesting,” so they were “protesting” themselves! You also know that every single one of Scalise’s words, including “a” and “the,” was a lie, and that every word dripped with contempt for people uninformed about due process.
Moreover, since you now know the truth, you can see that Scalise was projecting. He accused his enemies of behaving exactly the way he and the Republicans are behaving, which is exactly the way totalitarians have behaved in history—they maligned norms and institutions by portraying them as decadent, immoral, corrupt or even criminal.
But again—nothing is being done in secret. The Democrats are following a set of House rules last updated in 2015 and adopted by a majority of House members under then-House Speaker John Boehner. Testimony is happening for now behind closed doors because it involves serious matters of national security. Everyone, though, will hear all the evidence once all the evidence has been collected. But this gang of Republicans objects to evidence-gathering because they know it’s damning. They are throwing fistfuls of lies in our faces in order to distract us from the emerging truth.
Recall the timing of this stunt. The “protest” happened Wednesday. On Tuesday, William Taylor, who was picked by the president to be the US diplomat to Ukraine, confirmed in testimony that Trump did indeed hold up military aid to that country with the explicit demand that Ukraine’s leader announce publicly that he would investigate Trump’s domestic opponents. That, as they say, is the smoking gun. Or as one Democrats put it, there’s a “smoking gun sitting on top of a smoking gun.”
Fortunately, neither the Democrats nor the press corps appears to be taking the bait. The Republicans really did commit a felony by entering the Capitol’s SCIF with smartphones in hand. They should have been arrested (and later prosecuted), but according to Fox News, that’s what they wanted. They wanted to be photographed being frog-walked out of the building, as if they were martyrs to justice. Accomplices to obstruction of justice is more like it. In any case, the press corps is viewing the stunt through the correct lens. NBC News said the Republicans are running out of ways to defend Trump. The Post used the words “frantic” and “disjointed.”
Perhaps the Republicans really were protesting other Republicans. Maybe this spectacle was intended for Senators sitting on the fence more than devotees of Fox News. After all, House Republicans are doomed if Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader, decides the Senate’s fate is no longer in line with the president’s. He has already signaled that Trump is toast if he threatens McConnell’s control of that chamber.
John Stoehr is the editor of the Editorial Board. He writes the daily edition. Find him @johnastoehr.