Oct 23, 2019
Rep. Matt Gaetz and House Republican Press Conference Transcript: House Republicans Interrupt Impeachment Testimony
House Republicans and the Freedom Caucus, led by Representative Matt Gaetz, held a “transparency” press conference on the Trump impeachment probe before storming and interrupting a closed-door impeachment testimony at the Capitol today. A pentagon official was testifying on the Trump impeachment inquiry in the closed-door hearing. Read the full transcript of the House Republican press conference.
Matt Gaetz: (01:01)
I’m gathered here with dozens of my congressional colleagues underground, in the basement of the Capitol, because if behind those doors, they intend to overturn the results of an American presidential election, we want to know what’s going on. And it’s only reasonable that we would have questions. Because so far, Adam Schiff’s impeachment inquiry has been marked by secret interviews, selective leaks, weird theatrical performances of transcripts that never happened, and lies about contacts with a whistleblower. And so, I’m going to have a few of my colleagues give remarks, and then we’re going to try to go in there and we’re going to try to figure out what’s going on, on behalf of the millions of Americans that we represent, that want to see this Congress working for them and not obsessed with attacking a president who we believe has not done anything to deserve impeachment.
Matt Gaetz: (01:55)
Now the Republican Whip, Steve Scalise.
Steve Scalise: (01:58)
Thank you, Matt. What is Adam Schiff trying to hide? I think that’s a question so many people have, so many of my colleagues have, so many people in the press should have, is through those hidden closed doors over there, Adam Schiff is trying to impeach a president of the United States behind closed doors, literally trying to overturn the results of the 2016 election a year before Americans get to go to the polls to decide who’s going to be the president. And frankly, it should be the people of this country who decide who’s going to be the president, not Nancy Pelosi, and not Adam Schiff, in secret, behind closed doors.
Steve Scalise: (02:34)
The fact that Adam Schiff won’t even let the press in, you can’t even go in and see what’s going on in that room. Voting members of Congress are being denied access from being able to see what’s happening behind these closed doors where they’re trying to impeach the president of the United States with a one-sided set of rules. They call the witnesses. They don’t let anybody else call the witnesses. They don’t even let the president’s legal counsel question people who are making baseless allegations.
Steve Scalise: (02:59)
Maybe in the Soviet Union, this kind of thing is commonplace. This shouldn’t be happening in the United States of America where they’re trying to impeach a president in secret, behind closed doors. The American people deserve better. We will demand better for the American people. With that, I will bring up … Where’s Jim Jordan? Is he here? He’s probably in that room right now fighting. Mark Meadows.
Matt Gaetz: (03:23)
Steve Scalise: (03:24)
Mark Walker’s up. Here you go, Mark.
Mark Walker: (03:27)
Thank you, Whip. Thank you, Matt. The American people are being shut out. House Democrats are bypassing constitutional norms and basic standards of due process with their impeachment obsession. It has been said, but bears repeating, the president is not above justice. But as you know, neither is he below it. Facing your accusers, the ability to call rebuttal witnesses, cross-examination, the right to object to evidence, and ability to attend hearings, depositions, and interviews, these are basic standards that every American should expect, including the president of the United States, who is currently being the target of an angry mob, a willing media machine, and a twisted version of an impeachment process that didn’t begin two months ago, that began day one of this administration. It is a sham, and it’s time for it to end.
Mark Walker: (04:20)
Mr. Lee Zeldin and Mr. Biggs.
Andy Biggs: (04:25)
Thanks, Mr. Gaetz, thanks, Mr. Scalise, for putting this together. Let me just tell you something. You should be outraged if you’re an American at what’s happening here. You should be allowed to confront your accusers. This is being held behind closed doors for a reason, because they don’t want you to see what the witnesses are like.
Andy Biggs: (04:43)
Let me give you an example. Recently, we had the Mueller … Mr. Mueller came in to give a report to the judiciary. You were there. You saw it. The American people saw it. You know why Mr. Mueller’s report fell apart and why we knew that there was nothing there? Because we got to observe Mr. Mueller, himself, testify. Because when he was asked questions, you could see he didn’t understand what had happened in his own investigation. You saw him flipping through pages.
Andy Biggs: (05:07)
You get to see who is accusing you. When you’re denied that, you might as well be living in the former Soviet Union. This is a Soviet-style impeachment process. This is closed doors. It is unfair in every way. And I don’t care whether you are the president of the United States or any other citizens of this country, you should be allowed to confront your witnesses. Absent that, you get nothing but tyranny. And that’s what’s going on with Mr. Schiff. We’re going to go in there today and demand we get our rights as members of Congress. And with that-
Matt Gaetz: (05:44)
Andy Biggs: (05:45)
… Zeldin, Mr. Zeldin.
Lee Zeldin: (05:50)
I’ve sat through all of the depositions. I’m about to go back into Adam Schiff’s bunker here in the Capitol basement to sit through another deposition today. I want all of my colleagues to know every single question that’s been asked and every answer that’s been told. I want all of my constituents and their constituents to know every question that’s been asked and every answer that’s been told. What is happening behind closed doors is unclassified. There’s no reason why the American public shouldn’t be able to watch this in real time, live. This is a process lacking legitimacy, credibility, and fairness, and we have a huge problem with that.
Lee Zeldin: (06:35)
One fun fact from yesterday, I saw that the opening statement leaked. This is what happens. This is the Democrats’ strategy. They like to cherry pick leaks. Turn to page 12, the only reference to Joe Biden, other than one reference to the July 25th transcript, in that one reference, it’s not firsthand from Ambassador Taylor, it’s not secondhand from Ambassador Taylor, it’s not third-hand from Ambassador Taylor. You all making a big deal of Ambassador Taylor telling them that Tim Morrison told him that Sandlin told Morrison that the president told Sandlin, that the president told Zelensky, give me a break. On the process and the substance, this whole thing has been a joke. And I appreciate my colleagues for having today’s press conference. They deserve answers. My constituents deserve answers.
Lee Zeldin: (07:25)
I’d like to bring up Mo Brooks.
Mo Brooks: (07:31)
Let me focus on one of the judicial defects foisted on the American people by Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Adam Schiff, the use of secretive, infamous, Star Chamber-type proceedings in the Capitol’s basement rather than public proceedings, public proceedings where the American people can see for themselves firsthand the railroad job being presided over by Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Chairman Adam Schiff. The American people deserve a public and open process.
Mo Brooks: (08:03)
Bear in mind the significance of what we’re talking about here today. We are a republic. Close to a million Americans have fought in wars, beginning with the Revolutionary War, to give us the rights to control our own destiny. And what the socialist Democrats seek to do today is to thwart, to disregard, to repudiate the votes of 60 million Americans in the 2016 elections. By golly, if they’re going to do it, do it in public. Don’t hide it from the American people. Show your face where we can all see the travesty that you are trying to foist on America and the degradation of our republic that you are engaged in. We demand open proceedings. The American people deserve nothing less. Their representatives in Congress deserve nothing less. Next is Jim Jordan.
Mo Brooks: (08:55)
Debbie Lesko: (08:55)
Wow. I didn’t know you had such passion. I know.
Jim Jordan: (09:00)
Well, I would just say this, why don’t we know? Why don’t we know who the person is who started this whole charade that Adam Schiff is now doing in the bunker of the basement of the Capitol? If you look at the whistleblower’s complaint, page one of the complaint, he talks about more than half a dozen individuals [inaudible 00:09:16] form the basis of his complaint. We have no idea who these folks are. As I said last night on the floor of the House, 435 members of the House representing over 300 million Americans, and the only one of those 435 who know the individuals who started this whole thing, the only one, is Adam Schiff. Why don’t the rest of us know?
Jim Jordan: (09:34)
More importantly, why don’t the American people know? I mean, I think the American people, as I said before, they understand fairness, and they instinctively know that what is happening here is not fair. And that’s why I want to applaud my colleagues, Whip Scalise and Matt Gaetz and the rest of the team here, for standing up and saying, “Look, it’s time that we know who started this whole thing.” The more than half a dozen folks he referenced and said, “Over the past four months, more than half a dozen people have informed me,” about this complaint that he filed, who are those people? We’ve had seven witnesses today and I don’t think any of them have been the ones that the whistleblower, the so-called whistleblower, was referring to. So we need to hear from them and we need this done in the open so the American people can see. Thank you.
Jim Jordan: (10:14)
Debbie Lesko: (10:16)
Well, listen, for two years, Adam Schiff told the American people that he had evidence, proof, that President Trump had colluded with Russia. And then we find out after two years, $25 million or more spent, 2,800 subpoenas, 500 interviews, that, no, that was not the case. And then Adam Schiff, on public TV, says, “No, our office didn’t have any coordination. We didn’t hear it all from this whistleblower.” And then that turns out to be false. And then, in a committee hearing, he makes up a totally made-up conversation between President Trump and the Ukrainian president, I assume to try to deceive the American public.
Debbie Lesko: (11:08)
And now he wants us to believe that he’s like a special counsel in these closed-door meetings over here that I can’t go into as a member of the judiciary committee, and that even Republican members on the committee can’t even see the transcripts. This is totally unjust. It’s totally unfair. There was no vote on the floor of the House of Representatives, as has been done in the past, to authorize this impeachment inquiry with a standard set of rules and due process procedures that any American citizen should get, let alone the president of the United States.
Debbie Lesko: (11:51)
So I say to you, this is unfair and it’s a total political hit job on the president of the United States. And this is unjust. I hope the American people see it for what it is. Thank you.
Debbie Lesko: (12:07)
Speaker 9: (12:07)
Is Vicky here? Go get it, Vicky.
Vicky Hartzler: (12:15)
it’s time for Congress to get to work for the American people. The people of my district sent me here to get things done that they care about. Their healthcare costs are expensive. Their prescription drugs are becoming unaffordable. Roads are crumbling. We need to continue to rebuild our military. Look at the threats from Russia and China. And yet, what does Nancy Pelosi want to do? What do the Democrats want to do? They want to continue America on this terrible road for impeaching our president for something that he hasn’t even been indicted on or found guilty of.
Vicky Hartzler: (12:50)
To show you how unfair this process is, we can only look at what happened when President Nixon and President Trump were starting down the road of impeachment. First, there was an indictment. There was a finding of guilt first, and then there was a vote in the House of Representatives to start the process. A process was established. And the American public had an opportunity to view and to hear from the witnesses, to see the evidence, or not. The president had an opportunity to have his counsel there by his side. He had the opportunity to ask questions. He had the opportunity to bring other witnesses. My colleagues on this committee can’t even bring their own witnesses back, and they can’t even speak about what is going on in there.
Vicky Hartzler: (13:41)
Yet, the Democrats come out and they tell what is going on. They leak certain quotes that they select to create a narrative that they want to control, that they want to put forth to the American public as a lie, with one goal in mind, to undo the election, to undo the voice of the American people from a few years ago, and to deny the American people the truth, to deny us the truth, to deny me the truth. As a member of Congress, I cannot see the testimony that was provided there from Ambassador Volker. I have requested it. I am a member of Congress. I represent or 760,000 Missourians. I represent their views.
Vicky Hartzler: (14:25)
So it’s time. And I call and my colleagues call upon the Democrats to open up this process, to be fair, to shine a light on it for the American public, for posterity, and because there’s so much at stake. And I call upon them to get things done, like pass the USMCA, which will create 176,000 jobs, $63 billion worth of economic activity. I think that’s what we should be focusing on, and not trying to impeach a president for something he hasn’t even been found guilty of. Thank you.
Vicky Hartzler: (14:56)
Speaker 11: (15:02)
This is supposed to be the people’s house. We, the legislative branch, cannot make a bill a law without a vote. That is how the people of Tennessee, the people of America, have a voice. Remember, Speaker Pelosi, this government, through its legislature, is of the people, by the people, for the people. Speaker Pelosi has tyrannically commandeered the House of Representatives. It is as if she thinks the founders wanted a government of Pelosi, by Pelosi, for Pelosi.
Speaker 11: (15:37)
America, whatever you believe about our president, you must realize that senior Democrat leadership in the House is ignoring the founding principles of our democracy. We need the House to vote on this, and it must be done in transparency. As the good book says, “Those things done in secret are from darkness.” These elites who care nothing for the people must hear from the people. Call Speaker Pelosi and demand an end to this threat, this violation of freedom and democracy. Thank you.
Speaker 11: (16:11)
Mike Waltz: (16:15)
Representative Mike Waltz from Florida. I’m a Green Beret. I’m a proud veteran. This process does not make me proud. I have fought from Afghanistan to West Africa. I have operated in countries, in third world countries who have fairer processes to deal with their elected leadership than what we’re seeing today. I talk to veterans at home. I talk to veterans abroad. We have operators and special operators in 60 to 70 countries today, as we speak. They’re ashamed of this process. They don’t have a defense bill yet. We’re on a continuing resolution, which means all of the new programs that they need to face China, to face Russia, to face Iran, to face North Korea, to continue to combat terrorism, can’t start yet because we can’t seem to get it done in this Congress, because we have six committees, six committees dealing with this investigation. We have our intelligence professionals all over the world trying to keep this country safe. And we have the intelligence committee, day after day after day, dealing with this nonsense, dealing with this unfair process.
Mike Waltz: (17:31)
I, as a sitting member of Congress, have been asking for weeks to have access to these transcripts, to have access to Kurt Volker’s transcript. And you all know more about it than I do, you all who were not elected in the media. I am representing nearly a million Floridians, and I can’t see it. Is that fair? Is that worthy of the sacrifice of the men and women who have died for this country? I would think not.
Mike Waltz: (17:57)
And you know what rings loud and clear to me is a veteran back home, who said, “All you politicians do is fight. All you do is fight amongst each other. You’re doing nothing for me. You’re doing nothing for the care that I fought to deserve. You’re doing nothing to defend this country. You’re doing nothing to move my family’s life forward to do a better place.” And here we are, all fighting over this unfair process. It’s a shame. It’s not worthy. We can do better as Americans. And Americans expect us to do better. Thank you.
Mike Waltz: (18:30)
Matt Gaetz: (18:31)
Murphy? Murphy? Carter?
Buddy Carter: (18:38)
I’m Buddy Carter. I have the honor and privilege of representing the First Congressional District in Georgia. Ladies and gentlemen, if you’re an American and you’re within the sound of my voice, regardless of whether you’re a Democrat, regardless of whether you’re a Republican, or regardless if you consider yourself an independent, regardless if you hate Donald Trump or if you love Donald Trump, if you’re an American, you have to be outraged by what is going on here. Since day one, the Democrats have not accepted the fact that Donald J. Trump is president of the United States. Now we find ourselves with them behind closed doors trying to impeach a sitting president.
Buddy Carter: (19:18)
Ladies and gentlemen, if a government can do this to the president of the United States, they can do it to you as well. You need to be scared. You need to be very scared. This needs to stop. It needs to stop right now. We need open government. This is the United States of America. Please, I beg of you, pay attention. Stay focused. Keep your eye on the ball. What is happening here? We cannot allow this to go on. Adam Schiff has to stop. Nancy Pelosi has to stop. This process has got to stop, and it has to stop now.
Speaker 14: (20:04)
Ladies and gentlemen, what makes America the greatest country on earth? It’s the fact that we believe in justice. We believe in equal justice under the law. How is that achieved? It’s achieved through transparency and it’s achieved through fairness. This is simply not … It is not the process that is occurring now. We have secret hearings that are going on that we, as the elected members of the United States Congress, 435 members, are not privy to. That is simply not fair. That is simply not what makes America the greatest country on earth. Ladies and gentlemen, we are about the law. We are about justice. We are about doing what is right. This is not right. This is not the right process.
Speaker 14: (20:47)
So ladies and gentlemen, I call upon you to call upon Adam Schiff, to call upon the Speaker, to make these processes public. We have great work to be done in the United States. We were elected to serve the people and to do their work. We’re not doing that now. We’re doing a grave injustice to this nation. Who benefits? North Korea, Russia, China. They’re looking at us and laughing at us making a mockery of democracy. That’s what this is. It’s a mockery. Please, for the sake of America, let us end this injustice and move on with the work of the people.
Matt Gaetz: (21:28)
We’re going to go and see if we can get inside.
Mark Walker: (21:31)
Let’s do it. Let’s do it.
Matt Gaetz: (21:31)
So let’s see if we can get in.
Speaker 15: (21:32)
Congressman, do we have any questions?
Matt Gaetz: (21:35)
We’re going in.
Speaker 15: (21:35)
Congressman, any questions?
Speaker 15: (21:36)
Speaker 16: (22:31)
Sir, that includes you. Thank you. All right, guys, [inaudible 00:23:09] path, please. [inaudible 00:23:09] new paths.
Speaker 16: (23:08)
Speaker 17: (23:22)
Okay, because you got crews upstairs too.
Speaker 18: (23:25)
Well, we can, you know what, we can do it [inaudible 00:23:26] actually, that’s fine, just away from this.
Speaker 17: (23:28)
I think it’s gotten [crosstalk 00:23:28] too, yeah.
Speaker 17: (23:28)
Speaker 19: (23:36)
That’s one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, 10, 11, 12.
Speaker 19: (23:42)
Speaker 20: (23:46)
So this was the list originally, and then this morning we crossed out Murphy. He ended up speaking, and then Congressman McLeod was going to go [crosstalk 00:23:54]-
Speaker 19: (23:55)
So it’s still 13 people.