On Wednesday on Capitol Hill, this happened:
“Roughly two-dozen House Republicans on Wednesday stormed a closed-door deposition in secure House Intelligence Committee spaces to rail against the Democratic-led impeachment inquiry, a political stunt ratcheting up the GOP complaints about the process that threw the deposition into doubt….
….Rep. Bradley Byrne yelled in committee Chair Adam Schiff’s face, but Schiff didn’t engage. Other Democrats, including Val Demings, screamed back at both Byrne and Rep. Louie Gohmert, who were yelling about the process.”
The storming of a secure conference room being used by the House Intelligence Committee to interview Assistant Secretary of Defense Laura Cooper was the latest in a series of escalating episodes by Republicans who have grown more and more frustrated with the way in which the impeachment inquiry is being conducted.
There’s very little from a technical perspective that these Republicans – many of whom align with the Trump-loyal House Freedom Caucus – can do to stop the impeachment inquiry, which is being led by Schiff and a handful of other leading Democrats.
So, instead, the likes of Gohmert and Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz, one of Trump’s most outspoken supporters in Congress, are trying to turn the whole thing into a circus. Storm the committee room! Demand to know what secrets are happening in there! Hold press conference! Mug for cameras! Order Pizza! (Yes, that last one happened. For real.)
What was the point? Nothing, really. The impeachment investigation isn’t suddenly over. The Cooper deposition eventually went forward anyway – just after 3 p.m. Eastern. And despite Gaetz tweeting Wednesday afternoon “Still inside - more details to come,” it’s unclear what, exactly, he had uncovered. (The Intelligence Committee had made known publicly who they would be interviewing on Wednesday as they have done since the start of the process.)
The goal of Gaetz and his colleagues is to make the GOP base – and less regular consumers of politics – believe that everything going on in Washington is a joke, a farce, a confirmation of their worst beliefs among how DC works (or doesn’t.) Because if that’s how the country – or even a decent chunk of it – perceive the impeachment investigation then Trump (and the likes of Gaetz) win.
Turning the whole thing into a circus – as two-dozen House Republicans did on Wednesday – is the ultimate goal then. The more people tune out, the better.
The Point: What Republicans like Gaetz are doing is HUGELY cynical. Which doesn’t mean it won’t work.