House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-NY) offered a bizarre justification Thursday for ignoring House rules requiring him to allow Republicans to call witnesses: it did not say he had to do so on a particular day.
The existing resolution authorizing the impeachment inquiry, H. Res. 660, allows the Ranking Member of the committee to call witnesses — subject to the approval of the chair and a majority vote by the whole committee.
Failing that, Republicans invoked House of Representatives Rule XI 12(j)(1), which requires the chairs of House committees to allow the members of the minority party to hold a full day of hearings featuring their own witnesses.
The full rule reads:
Whenever a hearing is conducted by a committee on a measure or matter, the minority members of the committee shall be entitled, upon request to the chair by a majority of them before the completion of the hearing, to call witnesses selected by the minority to testify with respect to that measure or matter during at least one day of hearing thereon.
But on Thursday morning, when Ranking Member Doug Collins (R-GA) raised the issue as a point of order, Nadler offered several reasons for sidestepping the rule.
Reading from a prepared text, Nadler argued: “The House rule does not require me to schedule a hearing on a particular day, nor does it require me to schedule the hearing as a condition precedent to taking any specific legislative action.”
In other words, he interpreted the rule as allowing him to schedule the minority witness hearing after the articles of impeachment had already passed.
Moreover, he implied, Republicans simply wanted to invoke the rule to delay impeachment. He did not acknowledge that Democrats had rushed the impeachment process, and that the committee had not heard from any fact witnesses.
Nadler also argued that since the original purpose of the rule had been to allow the minority party to be heard, there was no need to apply the rule word-for-word, since Republicans had been represented by one witness in the hearing of legal experts — the only hearing, he said, to which the Republicans’ point of order had applied.
Moreover, he said, the only precedent on the issue was the one recently decided by the House Intelligence Committee — run by Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) — in which Republican requests for a minority hearing had been voted down.
Nadler also complained about past instances in which, he said, Republicans had ignored or failed to honor the rule properly when in the majority.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He earned an A.B. in Social Studies and Environmental Science and Public Policy from Harvard College, and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. He is also the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, which is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.