Lawmakers demand transparency in impeachment inquiry

National News

WASHINGTON, D.C. (ABC NEWS) — It was a plan to bring the latest round of questioning in the impeachment investigation to a standstill.

“We demand open proceedings. The American people deserve nothing less,” said Alabama Representative Mo Brooks.

And now a day later, President Trump is thanking House republicans for being ‘tough’ and ‘smart,’ calling the impeachment probe a ‘witchhunt’ and ‘total scam.’

On Wednesday, republicans barged into a closed-door hearing, successfully delaying the testimony of a key witness in the probe. Roughly a dozen of the republicans causing the disruption were members of committees leading the inquiry and already had access to the room.

“We should remind people that behind closed doors there are some 100 members of the House democrats and republicans who are witnessing and asking questions,” said Illinois Senator Dick Durbin.

It is standard procedure for depositions to be done behind closed doors and it is exactly how the GOP handled the Benghazi investigation in 2015. That deposition with Laura Cooper, the top Pentagon official overseeing Ukraine, finally starting five hours after it was set to begin.

As the Ukraine saga unfolds, President Trump has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing.

But when the top us diplomat in Ukraine, Bill Taylor, testified behind closed doors, he described in detail a quid pro quo pressure campaign.

Taylor says the U.S. Ambassador to the EU, Gordon Sonland told him the president wanted Ukraine to announce a public investigation into Joe Biden and his family and millions in military aid would be frozen until that announcement.  

An attorney for Sonland said he did not recall that conversation, but told ABC News his client “strongly opposed the cutoff of aid and believed (and advised internally) that it should be restored unconditionally.”

Sonland told congressional investigators that President Trump directed him and others to his personal lawyer Rudy Guiliani to push Ukraine to announce investigations, but was in the dark about the extent of those efforts and the political motive behind it. 

Thursday afternoon, Senator Graham is expected to introduce a resolution condemning how democrats have handled the impeachment probe in the House, calling it unconstitutional.

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