The long-anticipated release of impeachment deposition transcripts did not assuage frustrated House Republicans, who complained that Democrats are issuing the documents out of order, cherry-picking those from witnesses critical of the president.
“It would seem to me to make sense to do them in the order that the depositions and the testimony was given to us,” Republican Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio told reporters.
Republicans for weeks demanded that transcripts from the closed-door hearings be publicized, insisting the additional information would paint a more positive account of Trump’s dealings with Ukraine than had House Democrats’ selective leaking of deposition testimony.
But with the first transcripts now available, Republicans are downplaying the impact of the new information.
“I don’t know that you need all the transcripts,” Jordan said. “Like I’ve said, the facts have always been there, the facts have been clear from the get-go.”
The first transcripts released by House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff were given by Marie Yovanovitch, the former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, and Michael McKinley, a former top aide to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Democrats pointed to several passages from the hundreds of pages of testimony as lending credibility to their case that Trump abused his power by withholding military aid while demanding that Kyiv launch an investigation into political rival Joe Biden.
Schiff told reporters that transcripts from depositions with Kurt Volker, Trump’s former envoy to Ukraine, and Gordon Sondland, U.S. ambassador to the European Union, would be made public Tuesday. But House Republicans said their depositions should have been issued first. Rep. Mark Meadows said he was “surprised” that Schiff released the Yovanovitch and McKinley transcripts first, accusing the California Democrat of delaying Volker and Sondland because neither reportedly said much that was problematic for Trump.
“Why pick these two?” said Meadows, a North Carolina Republican. “These are two of the most disconnected depositions as it relates to impeachment allegations.”
House Democrats throughout the process of taking depositions have held hearings behind closed doors, with only members of the Intelligence, Oversight and Government Reform and Foreign Affairs committees permitted to attend. Republicans have been demanding more transparency, predicting that once voters see more than just the selective information leaked by Democrats, public opinion of the allegations against Trump would move in the president’s favor.
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