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.”
Trump preparing to question legitimacy of results if he loses 2020 election: Michigan lieutenant governor
Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist, D-Mich., has accused President Donald Trump of sowing doubt about November's election months before voting even begins in an attempt to question the "legitimacy of an election that he is looking to lose."
Gilchrist criticized Trump for pushing debunked conspiracy theories about voting by mail after the state sent absentee ballot applications to every registered voter amid the coronavirus pandemic.
"I think that the president wants to set us up so that there can be a conversation about the legitimacy of an election that he is looking to lose," Gilchrist told MSNBC over the weekend. "That is a really unfortunate thing. That's not how we do democracy here in the United States, and we need to be ready to respond to that forcefully."
Trump economic task force member once called minimum wage law the ‘Black Teenage Unemployment Act’
Art Laffer, a member of President Donald Trump's coronavirus economic task force who last year was honored with a Presidential Medal of Freedom, once referred to the federal minimum wage law as the "Black Teenage Unemployment Act" on Fox News while he attempted to claim that it made "no sense whatsoever."
"The minimum wage makes no sense whatsoever to me," Laffer told host Jenna Lee on the since-canceled Fox News show "Happening Now." "Honestly, it's just the teenage — 'Black Teenage Unemployment Act.' And this is the very group that we need to have jobs — not be put out of work because of a minimum wage. So, I'm very much in favor of, at least for teenagers, getting rid of the minimum wage."