One of the complaints you’ll hear the most from Republican lawmakers is that the Democrats’ impeachment inquiry is behind closed doors and not accessible to all of them (recall the storming of the SCIF). But one of the GOP lawmakers who actually is eligible to be in the room for depositions, as he is a Foreign Affairs committee member, simply didn’t go to hearings and hasn’t read testimony. How do we know this? Because Rep. Ted Yoho (R-Fla.) said as much during a wild and revealing CNN interview on Tuesday.
Rep. Yoho predicted the impeachment inquiry sparked by the Ukraine whistleblower’s complaint about the Trump-Zelensky phone call of July 25 will end as well for Democrats as Rep. Adam Schiff’s (D-Calif.) claim that “irrefutable information” would show there was collusion with Russia. But Yoho doesn’t seem to know what has actually been said. CNN’s Poppy Harlow pressed him on this, even asking him why he was on her show when he could be asking Lt. Colonel Alexander Vindman questions. Vindman is an Army officer who listened to the Trump-Zelensky call and twice reported concerns to his superiors about the president’s tactics. He is testifying behind closed doors Tuesday on Capitol Hill.
“Then why is it legitimate for you to slam an inquiry and slam testimony when you have the opportunity to be in the room for all of it. you are not taking that opportunity,” Harlow asked. “I understand you have other important responsibilities, but respectfully, congressman, as glad as I am that you’re on this show, you don’t need to be on this show. you could be in there — you could be in there deposing Lt. Colonel Vindman.”
Yoho said that he did have questions for Vindman.
“I plan to go in there. I’ve got my questions written for him. You know, why was he worried? Was anybody else on the call worried? Did they express the same thing? When did he give his concerns. When did he make that publicly known? Was that written down in a record other than his testimony, when was that submitted?” Yoho asked. “So those are questions that I want to come out.”
Harlow then asked if Yoho would go ask these questions after the interview.
“As soon as I’m off the air, yes, ma’am,” he replied.
“And this will be the first one you attend in the inquiry?” Harlow asked.
“It will be the first one, but we’ve been very engaged in what’s going on,” Yoho claimed, before decrying information leaks from the SCIF (the Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility that the Republican lawmakers recently barged into with cell phones in hand). “And this whole vote that Ms. Pelosi is bringing up, and I’m glad she’s bringing it up, but it’s not an official impeachment inquiry. It’s a vote to okay the process that they’re going through and the transparency. And as long as we’re talking about transparency, these are held in an intelligence briefing SCIF, some of them, a lot of that information was leaked. and that goes against 2 USC §386 that members or staff members are allowing information to be released from an intelligence briefing, and that needs to be investigated, because they’re going and leaking stuff that they shouldn’t be leaking.”
Harlow then asked Yoho if he’s been reading the transcripts of depositions. He admitted that he hasn’t.
“All members of the committees, so you’re one of them, are allowed to read the transcripts of these depositions, as they’ve been happening, have you done that?” Harlow asked.
“We’ve read the summary of Volker’s and there was one other one we did,” Yoho said. Note: there have been many depositions, not just Kurt Volker and “one other one” unnamed person (Bill Taylor, Gordon Sondland, Dr. Fiona Hill, George Kent, Marie Yovanovitch, etc.).
Harlow shot back, “The summary or you’ve gone actually to read the full transcript? ”
“Just a summary of them. the summaries of them,” Yoho answered, before explaining that he hasn’t gone to hearings or read testimony because “it’s not an official inquiry.”
You can watch a couple of minutes of this interview in the player above.
[Image via CNN screengrab]