Government

Chuck Grassley calls for more openness in impeachment inquiry

Iowa senator says he's seen no evidence that Trump committed impeachable offense

Sen. Chuck Grassley answers a question at a town hall meeting July 2 in Anamosa. Grassley on Wednesday criticized the way U.S. House Democrats are conducting the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump. “You don’t have accountability when you have secrecy,” Grassley said during his weekly conference call with Iowa reporters. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)
Sen. Chuck Grassley answers a question at a town hall meeting July 2 in Anamosa. Grassley on Wednesday criticized the way U.S. House Democrats are conducting the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump. “You don’t have accountability when you have secrecy,” Grassley said during his weekly conference call with Iowa reporters. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)

CEDAR RAPIDS — Sen. Chuck Grassley hasn’t seen any evidence President Donald Trump has committed an impeachable offense, and continued his criticism of House Democrats’ secrecy in their impeachment inquiry.

It’s hard to know whether the president has committed an impeachable offense because of the secrecy of the House Oversight and Reform Committee, the Iowa Republican said Wednesday. It’s meeting in closed-door sessions to hear testimony from various administration and State Department officials regarding the president’s dealings with Ukraine.

“You don’t have accountability when you have secrecy,” Grassley said during his weekly conference call with Iowa reporters. Transparency brings accountability, he said.

“So all I can say is that Democrats ought to open this up,” he added.

Although Democratic members of the committee have called Tuesday’s testimony from career diplomat William Taylor damning, Grassley said that Republicans came out of the meeting with “an entirely different point of view.”

“How do I really know ... because everything’s done in secret,” Grassley said.

He contrasted the current impeachment proceedings with those of Presidents Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton, “where the president could have his lawyers at the table cross-examining people.”

Several House Republicans, including Iowa 4th District Rep. Steve King, crashed the Oversight Committee hearing Wednesday morning because of their objections to the secrecy. They called the proceedings unfair.

Majority Democrats called it a publicity stunt and said Republican committee members had equal time to question witnesses in the sessions conducted in a Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility, or SCIF, which is a secure room where members can hear classified information.

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Earlier in the week, Grassley told KXEL Radio he didn’t have concerns with the president’s handling of Ukraine, but added that he’s reserving judgment until — or if — he sees articles of impeachment.

“I hope they don’t have to do that, but if they do, then I’m going to be a juror, so obviously even if I knew what they were going to say I shouldn’t comment on it or I wouldn’t be an impartial juror as the trial goes to the United States Senate,” Grassley said.

Comments: (319) 398-8375; james.lynch@thegazette.com

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