Democrats are moving fast on the impeachment inquiry—and demanding the same of Republicans. In a letter issued on Wednesday morning, House Intelligence Committee chair Adam Schiff wrote to unabashed Trump defender Rep. Devin Nunes to make it clear that if the Republicans have any witnesses they want to appear, they had 72 hours to put their names on the list. And the clock is ticking.
Schiff’s letter makes it clear that Democrats don’t intend to call every witness who appeared for a closed-door deposition during the public sessions, but Republicans are free to do so if they wish. However, despite all the complaints that Republicans have made about having exactly the kind of hearings that the rules they set out demanded, and demanding that witnesses appear in public, no one expects them to go through the list of recent witnesses to make sure they all take the stand in front of cameras.
Earlier reporting suggested that Republicans intend to fill the hearings with dozens of witnesses who have no knowledge of any actions connected to the impeachment, but who would repeat conspiracy theories about Hillary Clinton, the DNC, the whistleblower, and others for the purpose of filling both the air time and congressional record with nonsense. However, the rules for the upcoming round of public hearings require witnesses to be named in advance, and the purpose of each witness needs to be justified. So if Nunes wants to have anyone come for noise-making purposes, he has to lay out the who and why. And Schiff’s letter indicates that the reason provided needs to address one of the three narrow areas on which inquiry is based.
- Did Trump request that Ukraine open an investigation designed to manufacture evidence against a candidate in the 2020 election?
- Did Trump, or people working for Trump, apply pressure to Ukraine to advance Trump’s political interests?
- Did Trump, or people working from Trump, attempt to obstruct the impeachment inquiry?
If a potential witness can address one of those questions, and Nunes gets their name to Schiff before 11:20 ET on Saturday, Nov. 9, they can join the roster of witnesses to be subpoenaed. And please, put Rudy Giuliani on that list. Or Trump. That really would be a “perfect call.”