House Intelligence Committee's GOP roster gets change-up for impeachment hearings
By LINDSEY MCPHERSON | CQ-Roll Call | Published: November 9, 2019
WASHINGTON (Tribune News Service) — Oversight ranking member Jim Jordan will serve on the Intelligence Committee during public impeachment proceedings, temporarily replacing GOP Rep. Rick Crawford, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy announced Friday.
The Ohio Republican has been leading in the closed-door impeachment inquiry depositions that have been conducted jointly by the House Intelligence, Oversight and Foreign Affairs panels. Under procedures the House passed Oct. 31, the Intelligence Committee will be the sole panel participating in the public hearings.
Since Jordan has been leading Republicans' defense of President Donald Trump in the closed witness interviews, GOP leadership wants to ensure he has a role in the public questioning as well.
"Jim Jordan has been on the front lines in the fight for fairness and truth. His addition will ensure more accountability and transparency in this sham process," McCarthy said in a statement.
McCarthy's announcement did not mention a leadership role for Jordan on the Intelligence Committee, so it appears ranking member Devin Nunes will stay in his post as the top Republican.
If that's the case, it will be Nunes, not Jordan, who is leading the Republican portions of the public hearings.
The procedures the House passed give Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff and Nunes, as ranking member, and their staffs an oversized role in conducting the hearings.
The initial questioning – to be conducted in 90-minute rounds, split evenly between the majority and the minority – can only be conducted by Schiff, Nunes or an Intelligence Committee staff member they yield to.
When both sides have exhausted questioning under that format, then other members of the Intelligence Committee will have five minutes each to ask questions, just like in normal hearings.
That means Jordan will only get to actively participate for five minutes – a much more minor role to the one he played in the closed-door depositions.
The other big question McCarthy's announcement did not address is whether Jordan's investigative counsel on Oversight, Steve Castor, who asked most of the questions for Republicans during the depositions, will also temporarily be moved to the Intelligence Committee.
If Castor is made an Intelligence staff member, then Nunes could yield to him to ask questions of the witnesses.
As for Crawford, he'll get his seat on the Intelligence back after the impeachment proceedings conclude, McCarthy said, calling Crawford "an exemplary member."
Unlike most standing committees in which GOP membership is decided by the Republican Steering Committee and subject to ratification by the full conference, the Intelligence panel is a permanent select committee in which the Republican leader has sole discretion to pick the members.
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