The lead House manager was indignant, saying senators used to care about protecting whistleblowers

Senate Television/AP
Senate Television/AP

Trump White House counsel Pat Cipollone said of House Democrats on Thursday: “If you feel confident in your facts then why do you design a process that completely shuts out the President? Why do you cook up the facts in a basement SCIF instead of in the light of day?” He continued that the Democrats “locked out the President’s counsel.”

Trump was not “completely” shut out of the House process, nor was his counsel. Though House Democrats did not allow Trump to have a lawyer participate in the closed-door initial hearings or in the public House Intelligence Committee hearings, Cipollone was invited to participate in the subsequent public House Judiciary Committee hearings. He declined.

There is no evidence of Democrats cooking up facts of their own. The closed-door hearings held in a secure room at the Capitol, known as a Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility (SCIF), allowed both Democratic and Republican lawmakers to question witnesses on an alternating basis. (Transcripts of the proceedings were then released.) And the House Intelligence Committee held public hearings, followed by the House Judiciary Committee.

Cipollone also accused Democrats of shutting out Republican witnesses, saying Democrats “denied the minority any witnesses at all.” He added: “They said, ‘Well, let’s just pick the witnesses that we want. The other ones are irrelevant, not relevant.’”

Cipollone would have been correct if he had simply complained that Republicans, the House minority, were not given the right to summon their own witnesses. But it’s not true that Democrats declared all Republican-requested witnesses “irrelevant.” The Democratic-controlled House Intelligence Committee called three people whom Republicans had formally asked Democrats to call: Kurt Volker, former special representative for Ukraine; Tim Morrison, former National Security Council senior director for Europe and Russia; and David Hale, undersecretary of state for political affairs.

The House Judiciary Committee called Jonathan Turley, a law professor at George Washington University who opposes Trump’s impeachment.

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