Republicans open impeachment hearing by demanding probe of whistleblower

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Republicans interrupted the hearing as soon as it started, targeting the whistleblower who issued the complaint at the center of the impeachment inquiry.

Republicans on Wednesday tried to grind the first public impeachment hearing to a halt before it even began, demanding that the identity of the whistleblower be released.

Republicans have been trying to out the whistleblower for weeks, following the lead of Donald Trump — who has tried to discredit the person whose complaint kicked off the impeachment inquiry.

At this point, however, the whistleblower's complaint has been substantiated by multiple witnesses who have testified that Trump tried to extort Ukraine into interfering in the 2020 election for Trump's own benefit.

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The attempt to identify the whistleblower began with a parliamentary inquiry from Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY), who asked whether Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), chair of the House Intelligence Committee, would block any questions GOP members tried to ask.

Schiff responded that the only questions he has tried to block were questions from Republicans that sought to reveal the whistleblower's identity — something Republicans tried to do in at least one closed-door deposition.

"As the gentlewoman should know, if she were present for the depositions ... the only times I prevented witnesses from answering questions, along with our counsel, was when it was apparent that members were seeking to out the whistleblower," Schiff responded to Stefanik, who was one of a number of Republican members who did not attend the closed-door depositions, even though they were permitted to. "We will do everything in our power to protect the whistleblower's identity, and I'm disturbed to hear members of the committee, who in the past have voiced strong support for whistleblower protections, seek to undermine those protections by outing the whistleblower."

But the GOP stunt didn't end there.

Two other Republican lawmakers, Reps. Jim Jordan of Ohio and Mike Conaway of Texas, also went on about the whistleblower.

Conaway demanded that the committee hold a vote to demand the whistleblower testify in a closed-door deposition.

When Schiff said that a vote on whether to subpoena the whistleblower would happen at a later date, Jordan — a top Trump sycophant — wanted to know exact timing.

Jordan also falsely accused Schiff of knowing who the whistleblower is.

"That's a false statement, I do not know the identity of the whistleblower, and I'm determined to make sure that identity is protected," Schiff said, officially shutting down the GOP stunt and getting the hearing underway.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.