(CNSNews.com) – In a vote of 23 to 17, the House Judiciary Committee on Friday approved two articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump, sending it to the full House for a vote before Christmas.
Rep. Mike Johnson (R-La.) told reporters on Capitol Hill Friday that the impeachment claim of obstruction is “absurd” and that the president was concerned about the impeachment process.
“The president has not been obstructing this at all. What he is worried about is the process, is this unprecedented charade that’s gone on: Adam Schiff controlling this in a basement, having secret hearings, cherry-picking witnesses, denying Republican questions, not allowing Republican witnesses to come forward. There’s been no chance for the president’s counsel to participate in the early stages of this,” he said.
The congressman said the impeachment inquiry was “rigged” and that any good attorney would advise his client not to participate if a case were handled the way it was against the president.
“I'm an attorney. Many of us are. If we were advising our client, and our client in this case happened to be Donald Trump, we would tell him not to participate in that, because it’s an ambush. We got ambushed last night on the scheduling,” Johnson said, referring to Chairman Jerrold Nadler’s (D-N.Y.) decision to postpone an impeachment vote last night until Friday when many Republicans had already made plans to leave town.
Johnson accused House Democrats of trying to “railroad the president,” saying that’s why Trump has been concerned.
The congressman noted that former President Barack Obama didn’t turn in pleadings, documents, and witnesses requested by Congress in the investigation into Operation Fast and Furious, the ATF’s gunwalking scheme.
“The fact that they brought an impeachment claim of obstruction is absurd. The Obama administration, the one just prior to this one, went to court. They didn't turn in pleadings and all the documents and witnesses that were requested in the Fast and Furious investigation. They went to the third branch of government. That's the way our system is set up. When there is a natural impasse that develops between the legislative and executive branches, we have the third branch of government, the judiciary,” Johnson said.
The congressman said Democrats could have asked a federal court to compel the White House to produce anything they needed, but it would have taken too long for them to keep to the schedule they set out to impeach the president before Christmas.
“They have could have easily gone a few blocks away to a federal court, gotten an order to compel the production of anything else they needed, but they didn't have time to do that. You know why? We all know why, because they guaranteed to the radical left base they would impeach Donald Trump by Christmas. That's why we're here. That’s why we've done all this, and that’s why they didn't go through the normal process, the custom and practice of every previous administration in the modern era,” he said.
While Democrats control the House, Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) said, “They don’t have the right to abuse the process, and this was a total abuse of process.”
“It was a witch hunt. That's why they could not settle on a charge until they had exhausted that there was no evidence of a crime,” he said.
“Let me just tell you, if the DOJ and the FBI went after you and your family and your business associates, harassed them and you find out, as the president did early on, this was all a scam to bring him down, then you would be wise, and I bet most any attorney would say, don't you go and give -- they're looking for anything. Don't help them crucify you. It would not be smart,” Gohmert said.
“The president did the right thing,” the congressman said, adding that the obstruction of justice was within the DOJ and FBI “but hopefully, there’ll be people to pay for that.”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is not likely to bring witnesses in the Senate trial, a reporter noted. “You called for witnesses. How do you think that you’re actually going to get your story out? This is not what McConnell says he wants,” she said.
“That would be a mistake,” Gohmert said. “The Senate promised for months now they would have witnesses, and I really understand the desire -- this was a ridiculous process, a report, no real witnesses here. So I understand their desire to just get it behind us, but the country needs to hear what a farce this was. They really need to bring in witnesses. They’ll have the chance to clean this mess up, and I sure hope they will.”
“This is a president who just yesterday called a teenager on the autism spectrum a person with an anger management problem. Does that make it harder to defend him this vigorously?” a reporter asked, referring to 16-year-old climate activist Greta Thunberg.
Johnson said just because Democrats don’t like the president, doesn’t give them the right to remove him from office.
“The president communicates in a unique way. He doesn't communicate the way I do and the way many of us would but ... 63 million Americans voted to make him the president of the United States. He has an unorthodox style, but what we’re talking about here is removing a president because the Democrats don't like that style. They don't like him. They don't like his Twitter account. They don't like many of his staff members,” the congressman said.
“They don't like what he does in the office, but the way our system is designed, the way our Constitution is written is the party in charge even if you have the majority in Congress, you don't get to remove a president because you don't like him. They did not produce a scintilla of evidence to support a charge of impeachment, and that is the question at the end of the day,” he said.
“That's why we're so frustrated. We may not have a trial in the Senate. The president may not get a chance to put on his witnesses and put on his defense, but we're going to do it to our constituents and the American people every opportunity we have,” Johnson added.