President Donald Trump has raged against the closed-door testimonies in his impeachment inquiry, but a Democratic lawmaker explained why that’s necessary to preserve the integrity of an investigation into a possible criminal conspiracy.
Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA), who sits on the House Intelligence Committee, told MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” that these hearings must be held in a room beneath the Capitol to protect classified information and quarantine witnesses from one another.
“It’s three floors below the Capitol, no cameras inside, no phones allowed inside,” Swalwell said. “Any classified notes stay inside, classified conversations stay inside. It’s to protect the information, and in this case there was no special counsel, there was no special prosecutor.”
“The attorney general refused to even take up this case, so we have to do this in a closed environment because we know that if witnesses know what other witnesses will say, they will tailor their testimony and cook up alibis, and we have reason to believe that may be going on,” he added. “We’re trying to protect that information to the degree that we can.”
Swalwell confirmed that Congress had evidence that witnesses in the inquiry were trying to coordinate their testimony, and he explained why that necessitates closed-door hearings.
“So what we have seen — and I’m not going to go into it — but we have seen evidence that witnesses have talked to other witnesses, and the reason we’re having these hearings in this fashion is so that when witnesses testify, the information is held closely,” Swalwell said.
“If the information is getting out in the public, then they’re able to work together and try and get their stories, you know, together and aligned,” he added, “especially if they’re not necessarily innocent actors in this scheme.”
Former Ukraine ambassador Bill Taylor testified Tuesday, when he revealed quid pro quo evidence and deeply implicated Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in a corrupt scheme, but Swalwell said most Republican lawmakers had left the hearing before the end.
“There were a lot when we started,” he said. “I counted about 75 people in this very small room, you know, about two-thirds of them were members. Now, at the end of the day, after all of the complaints about the process, after all of the attacks on the chairman, it was about, you know, a 10-1 ratio of Democrats to Republicans.”
He said “dozens” of Republicans were present as Taylor read his damning opening statement, but Swalwell said the few questions they asked were focused on proving conspiracy theories pushed by the president.
“Cockamamie conspiracy questions,” Swalwell said. “More 2016 Hillary server, what about her emails, that type of nonsense.”
Pelosi smacks down Fox News reporter’s question — and hilariously explains to Trump what ‘exculpatory’ means
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) on Thursday smacked down Fox News reporter Chad Pergram after he insinuated that House Democrats seemed "excited" about the prospect of impeaching President Donald Trump.
During a press conference, Pergram asked Pelosi, "Why would the public not think that the House is dead set on a course to impeach the president when all of this milieu was going on?"
"All this milieu is a seeking of the truth," she replied. "It's called an inquiry."
Pelosi at this point turned to the camera and seemed to address Trump directly.
"And if the president has something that is exculpatory -- Mr. President, that means if you have anything that shows your innocence -- then he should make that known," she said. "And that's part of the inquiry. So far we haven't seen that."
‘That’s bribery’: Nancy Pelosi explains why Trump is in deeper water than he thinks
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) on Thursday explained why President Donald Trump could be guilty of attempted bribery.
At a press conference, Pelosi pointed out that bribery is named in the U.S. Constitution as an impeachable offense.
"What is the bribe?" the Speaker was asked.
"The bribe is to grant or withhold military assistance [from Ukraine] in return for a public statement of a fake investigation into the elections. That is bribery," she explained.
Watch the video from Fox News.
LIVE COVERAGE: Multiple victims reported in Southern California school shooting
Police are searching for a shooter who opened fire at southern California high school.
The Santa Clarita Valley sheriff's office tweeted Thursday around 8 a.m. local time that shots had been fired at Saugus High School.
Saugus was placed on lockdown, along with nearby elementary schools.
Multiple victims were reported at the school, although few details were released.
The shooter remains at large.