Collins, Rules Committee GOP Use Hearing To Drag Nadler

WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 17: House Judiciary Committee ranking member Rep. Doug Collins (R-GA) speaks as Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD) (L) listens during a House Rules Committee hearing on the impeachment against Preside... WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 17: House Judiciary Committee ranking member Rep. Doug Collins (R-GA) speaks as Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD) (L) listens during a House Rules Committee hearing on the impeachment against President Donald Trump on December 17, 2019 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Andrew Harnik-Pool/Getty Images) MORE LESS
December 17, 2019 3:43 p.m.

We know you “can’t speak for the chairman,” but…

House Republicans appeared to take full advantage of the fact that Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD) was filling in for House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-NY) on Tuesday. Nadler was in New York caring for his sick wife. During the public hearing before the House Rules Committee on Tuesday, ranking member Tom Cole (R-OK) used his time quizzing witnesses Raskin and House Judiciary Committee ranking member Doug Collins (R-GA) to push some Trumpian talking points and cast shade on Nadler’s handling of the vote on the articles of impeachment.

And there were several instances in which Cole asked questions that seemed to be specifically designed to make Raskin look uninformed.

Toward the beginning of his questioning time, Cole cited a document apparently written by Nadler in November of 2016 — and posted on “,” as Cole said — in which the New York representative waxed theoretical about what Democrats must do to “stop Trump and his extreme agenda now.”

Cole then raised remarks made by Nadler in August in which Nadler said his committee’s work could be leading toward articles of impeachment.

I believe it’s important to clarify for the record when formal impeachment proceedings actually started. Is chairman Nadler correct when he said they started on August 8 or was it when the house authorized them on October 31?” Cole asked.

Both questions seemed aimed at supporting a Republican talking point that Trump’s spouted in recent days: that Democrats have been out to impeach him for months if not years. 

Forgive me, Mr. Cole, I was not prepared to answer that question, but I think the Judiciary Committee has taken formal positions which we can track about this question,” Raskin responded.

Moments later Cole asked Raskin to clarify remarks Nadler made during the impeachment of former President Bill Clinton, and Raskin demurred. “Again,” he said, “I’m going to have to allow Chairman Nadler to speak for his own words.”

During a lengthy back-and-forth between Cole and Collins, Cole dragged Nadler and House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA) for the process surrounding impeachment proceedings. Process arguments have become a hobbyhorse for Republicans, particularly Collins. The exchange was primarily tongue-in-cheek.

“Were you improperly trying to delay proceedings, Mr. Collins?” Cole asked his fellow Republican at one point. 

“No,” Collins replied, saying he was trying to “actually have proper following of rules.”

Thanks to some quick work from a Democratic staffer, House Rules Committee Chair Jim McGovern (D-MA) pushed back on Nadler’s behalf toward the end of the hearing. Collins was complaining that the minority was shut out of the planning process for Judiciary Committee hearings, and Nadler never responded to Collins’ request that the minority conduct its own hearing.

“I was never promised by Mr. Nadler that he would work with us on a hearing date from now until infinity. I mean he basically just said ‘no we’re not having it,'” Collins said.

A staffer then handed McGovern a letter in which Nadler responded to Collins’ concerns about a minority hearing, reading a portion in response: “Nadler says, ‘I’m willing to work with the minority to schedule a hearing,'” he said.

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