House Judiciary Committee ranking member Rep. Doug Collins, R-Ga., is gearing up for his committee’s role in the impeachment inquiry of President Trump, and the first witness he plans on calling is the man who led the first phase in the process, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif.
Schiff is in the middle of preparing a report on his committee’s findings after conducting closed-door interviews and public hearings featuring a number of current and former Trump administration officials connected to the administration’s policies and relationship with Ukraine. Republicans have questioned Schiff's credibility due to contact that an anonymous whistleblower had with his staff before filing a complaint which led to the impeachment inquiry, and now they want to question him before the Judiciary Committee.
“My first and foremost witness is Adam Schiff,” Collins told “Fox News Sunday.” He claimed that if Schiff does not make himself available for questioning, it will reflect poorly on his credibility and the work he has done so far.
“If he chooses not to, then I really question his veracity and what he’s putting in his report. I question the motive of why he’s doing it,” Collins said. Collins specifically said he wants Schiff to discuss what he and his staff knew about the whistleblower’s complaint, and Schiff’s own interactions with Ukraine.
He also claimed that Schiff has withheld documents relevant to the inquiry.
“If they think they have such a case, give us all the materials,” he said.
Collins also called out Democrats for the time crunch they have imposed on Republicans and the White House, along with a lack of information regarding the next stage in the impeachment process, which will begin with House Judiciary Committee hearing featuring constitutional scholars on December 4. Collins claimed that the committee’s chairman, Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., did not give Trump or Republicans enough time to determine how to move forward.
“Chairman Nadler sent a letter asking us by Friday to present this list and present all the things that we would like to do. However, we’re not going to see the Schiff report, as it is going to be known, out of committee until Tuesday night, possibly Wednesday morning before we get to see it.”
In a letter to the president sent Friday, Nadler gave Trump until December 6 to decide whether to have counsel present at hearings and to state which privileges he will invoke. Collins claimed that this does not give Trump time to prepare, as Schiff’s report will not be released until soon beforehand.
“As an attorney, if you have a case going forward you want to know exactly what you’re facing,” Collins said.
The Republican also addressed what he believes to be an unfair process when it comes to Wednesday’s hearing featuring constitutional law experts who will be weighing in on possible impeachment. Three of the witnesses will be called by the Democratic majority, with one called by the GOP.
“Why don’t we at least have more witnesses?” Collins asked. Last week he sent Nadler a letter calling for additional witnesses besides the four academics, citing precedent for a “robust slate” of witnesses.
“For example, during the impeachment inquiry of President William J. Clinton, the Committee assembled two panels of ten and nine academics, respectively, to help the Committee grapple with impeachment,” the letter said. Collins did not specify who should be added to the list, but suggested that both parties be able to choose.