I’ve tried my best to understand John Curtis’s reasoning for voting against the impeachment inquiry resolution. When he was Provo’s mayor, I heard only good things about him from Republicans, Democrats, and unaffiliated voters alike. I had high hopes that his actions in Congress would demonstrate integrity, show a willingness to rise above partisan bickering, and act in defense of truth.
But his talking points aren’t based in fact. Representative Curtis gave six reasons he’s opposed to the House resolution to continue the impeachment inquiry. Here is why none of those reasons make sense.
1. “The resolution voted on today ... has no actual requirement for the Intelligence Committee to hold open and public hearings.”
The resolution didn’t need to outline when the House would hold open and public hearings because the House already has policies in place for this situation.
The rules as they now stand are drawn in part from Thomas Jefferson’s manual, and the policies about impeachment were last revised in 2015, at which point they were approved by Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner and enacted by a Republican majority.
Per page 616 of the current edition of House rules, the House has discretion over what impeachment materials are made public.
This policy does mean that the majority party gets to control the narrative in a way that the minority party doesn’t, but we can’t very well help that. An inquiry is a discovery process, so you can’t decide in advance what information will be classified and what won’t. Someone has to make those calls as situations arise, and the majority party gets to make those decisions because they’re the party the voters put in power.
Senate Republicans will have similar power if the matter goes to a Senate trial.
2. “The resolution ... disallows Representative Curtis from continuing to attend and participate in impeachment-related depositions and hearings, eliminating one of Utah’s voices in the process”
The resolution specifies that five committees — intelligence, foreign affairs, oversight, financial services, and ways and means — will continue to conduct hearings. Each committee member can spend as much as 90 minutes questioning witnesses, so not all 435 House members can attend and question witnesses.
However, Representative Curtis is on the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, so his claim that he won’t be able to continue to attend and participate in hearings seems inaccurate. The resolution says nothing about disallowing participation of any members of the relevant committees, and Curtis has given us no indication that his privileges were restricted outside of the resolution.
3. “The resolution ... further restricts which Members are allowed into the SCIF”
Representatives who aren’t on the five relevant committees aren’t having their rights violated. They’ll still have access to the information they need to vote for or against impeachment if the House brings articles against the president.
4. “The resolution ... allows Chairmen Schiff and Nadler to veto subpoenaing Republican witnesses and the questions that witnesses are asked;”
The resolution also explains that if the chair declines to follow the course of action desired by the ranking minority member (in this case, the committee’s leading Republican), then that ranking member can appeal to the committee at large to have their recommendation followed. And the chair has to convene the committee promptly to render that decision.
5. “The resolution ... gives Chairman Nadler authority to dismiss the President’s legal counsel;”
The impeachment proceedings in the House are the equivalent of a grand jury proceeding. And in a federal grand jury proceeding, the defendant has no right to a lawyer’s presence. The accused is entitled to a lawyer during a trial — which is what the Senate will conduct if the House impeaches President Trump.
The House is not violating the rule of law. The House is enforcing the rule of law by holding President Trump to the same standard that every other American has to meet. John Curtis wants the president to get special treatment.
6. “The resolution ... continues to undermine and politicize both the House Intelligence and the House Judiciary Committees.”
A full House vote to move forward with impeachment proceedings solidifies the House’s subpoena power, so the resolution hardly undermines these committees. Their job is to investigate the allegations brought forward by members of the intelligence community and make sure that the president isn’t using his power unjustly.
Committees do the work of democracy, and it is certainly a legitimate act to investigate something that the president and his chief of staff have confessed to on camera.
Additionally, while the committees are made up of politicians, the parameters of the investigation bind those politicians to act in an appropriate investigative manner. If the president has in fact done nothing wrong, then this investigation is the most effective way to clear his name.
Republicans’ response to yesterday’s vote did nothing to acknowledge that this administration’s behavior is irregular. These irregularities have been reported by apolitical public servants at the highest level, and these public servants have sounded the alarm at great personal risk.
Yesterday, the House Republicans, joined by John Curtis, responded to this sacrifice by putting party before country. Whether or not their actions surprise us, we should be deeply concerned about the way that Representative Curtis twisted facts to justify his vote.