Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) is under fire for running a “kangaroo court” to impeach President Donald Trump — but Sen. Lindsey Graham is calling his bluff.
Graham (R-SC) threatened to call Kurt Volker, the Democrats’ first witness in their impeachment inquiry, to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee if Schiff does not release the full transcript of Volker’s testimony before House Democrats, Breitbart reports.
Republicans have said that Volker’s testimony shot holes in the Democrats’ impeachment narrative and have called for the full transcript, but Democrats have refused to provide it.
“If this continues, I will call Volker before the Senate Judiciary Committee to testify publicly to ensure the full story is told,” Graham tweeted.
Graham calls on Schiff to release testimony
Volker, the former U.S. envoy to Ukraine, resigned last month, and Democrats made him their first witness in the impeachment inquiry. Republicans who were present for Volker’s testimony behind closed doors last week have said that it vindicated President Trump and that Democrats have selectively released Volker’s text messages to implicate Trump in wrongdoing.
In some of those texts, a top diplomat told Trump’s ambassador to the European Union, Gordon Sondland, that it was “crazy” that Trump was asking Ukraine for help with his political campaign, to which Sondland replied that there was no quid pro quo.
While Republicans lack subpoena power in the House’s impeachment inquiry, Graham, who is chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said that he would step in to correct Schiff’s “abuse of power” if he does not do so voluntarily. Graham’s tweet linked to a Fox article about demands from Republican Jim Jordan (R-OH) for Schiff to release the transcript. Jordan is not alone in demanding the transcript.
“House [Democrats] should immediately release [Amb.] Volker’s several hours long transcribed interview so all can read it. He candidly [and] professionally obliterated the bogus charge POTUS made a quid pro quo offer to Zelensky connecting aid to Ukraine with an investigation into Bidens,” Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-NY) tweeted Friday.
Republicans step up attacks
The Volker dispute is one part of a wider charge by Republicans that Democrats, and Schiff in particular, are not conducting a fair, transparent process. The White House sent a blistering letter to Democrat leaders Tuesday declaring that President Trump could not cooperate with the “baseless” inquiry, equating it to an effort to overturn the 2016 election and also influence the 2020 race by denying Trump basic due process considerations.
The letter laced into Schiff over the fact that his Intelligence Committee had advance knowledge of the whistleblower’s complaint, something about which Schiff lied. Republicans have also blasted Schiff for reading aloud a false “parody” version of Trump’s phone call with Ukraine’s president during a televised hearing.
“In any event, the American people understand that Chairman Schiff cannot covertly assist with the submission of a complaint, mislead the public about his involvement, read a counterfeit version of the call to the American people, and then pretend to sit in judgment as a neutral ‘investigator,'” the letter read.
Members of the House Freedom Caucus, of which Jordan is a part, have called on Schiff to recuse himself from the impeachment inquiry, saying he can’t be trusted. Republicans supported the State Department’s decision Tuesday to block Sondland from testifying, a move that led Schiff to raise the specter of obstruction charges.
Signs of political maneuvering by Democrats have piled up steadily since the impeachment inquiry began, including reports that Democrats are taking steps to have the whistleblower testify with his identity concealed. The whistleblower reportedly has a past “professional relationship” with a Democrat currently running for president, and his Democrat-connected lawyers once formed an organization designed to solicit damaging leaks from people inside the Trump administration.