Congresswoman Susan Brooks, R-5th District, is dodging the issue of whether there should be an impeachment inquiry based on President Donald Trump’s alleged quid pro quo ultimatum to Ukraine.
Yes, she has explained why she voted against the House Democrats’ rules for the inquiry, but she must now see past the trees and survey the entire forest. The one issue that matters now is whether the president should be impeached.
This is another opportunity for Brooks, who is retiring from office and isn’t susceptible to political revenge from Trump, to get on the right side of history, which will look harshly upon those who stood in the president’s corner despite his misbehavior and his attempts to capitalize personally on his position.
In an article published Nov. 4 in The Herald Bulletin, Brooks, whose district includes the Madison County area, laid out her concerns about how the investigation inquiry is being handled.
“This is no longer a matter of supporting or opposing the investigation,” she said. “It’s now a matter of how it’s being conducted. The Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Congressman Adam Schiff, is conducting this ongoing investigation in such a secret manner so that only members of Congress who sit on the assigned committees have access to the facts.”
“I do not serve on one of the assigned committees,” Brooks continued. “He has refused to provide access to transcripts of interviews or depositions to anyone. He has restricted the rights of the White House counsel to participate. Therefore I am only receiving the facts Chairman Schiff decides to share publicly.”
While Brooks’ concerns about the transparency of the process are understandable, putting the fairness of the Trump impeachment inquiry into historical perspective by comparing it to the impeachment processes for Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton is problematic.
Those impeachments sprang from previous investigations, whereas the House Intelligence Committee is conducting a first investigation of Trump’s dealings with Ukraine. As such, it made sense to hold initial hearings behind closed doors to assure that witness testimony wasn’t impacted by previous testimony from other witnesses.
The process followed the legal and common practice in courts across the country of deposing witnesses in private to prepare for public hearings.
Now that depositions from interviews conducted by the intelligence committee have been released publicly, the entire world knows what evidence has been collected. And at open hearings beginning today, Republicans will have the opportunity to ask their own questions and get answers.
Rep. Brooks and other defenders of the president now must get past the idea that the inquiry should have been conducted differently and should judge in an apolitical manner whether Trump’s actions related to Ukraine constitute grounds for impeachment.
Put simply, Brooks and other Republicans must put country ahead of politics.