Rep. Jim Himes, D-Conn., the No. 2 Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee that has led the ongoing impeachment inquiry of President Trump, defended moving forward with the probe despite a lack of bipartisan support that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi once said was necessary, calling Trump's actions worse than what was seen during the Nixon administration.
In May 2018, Pelosi said that impeachment efforts "would have to be bipartisan to go forward." When the House voted to approve and set rules for the impeachment inquiry last week, not a single Republican voted to support it. Himes did not dispute Pelosi's 2018 position, but claimed that Trump's alleged acts are so bad that it does not matter.
"These are abuses of power by any stretch of the imagination that requires a response,” Himes said, after claiming that "we are looking at abuse of power and a level of corruption here that makes the Nixon impeachment look like child’s play." He supported that statement by claiming that Nixon himself did not participate in the Watergate break-in of the Democratic National Committee headquarters, and that "nobody died in Ukraine because Nixon held up aid to a very vulnerable nation."
Himes admitted that "in principle Nancy Pelosi is right," and lamented a lack of bipartisan support, but blamed Republicans for sticking by the president, saying that the GOP "has now completely given itself over to being a personality cult for Trump."
Republicans have blasted the impeachment inquiry, led by House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., for its secrecy. Himes said that he predicts public, televised hearings will begin "some time in the next two or three weeks," but said they still need to interview more witnesses behind closed doors before that happens.
Himes did say that transcripts of the closed hearings will be released.
A number of White House officials have already been called to testify over objections from President Trump. Himes indicated that former National Security Adviser John Bolton may be appearing soon.
"I believe John Bolton has been subpoenaed," Himes said, but noted he was not certain. Bolton has been considered a significant potential witness given his reported opposition to Trump's dealings with Ukraine, which are the focus of the inquiry. Bolton has reportedly been quoted as referring to Trump's request to have Ukraine help investigate his political opponents as a "drug deal."
Following the House vote on the impeachment inquiry, Republicans will have the opportunity to subpoena their own witnesses, but only pending the approval of the Democratic majority. When asked by host Chris Wallace if he could promise that Schiff will let GOP subpoenas through, Himes refused to do so.
"It is a majoritarian institution," Himes said.