Republicans demand immediate release of impeachment transcripts

As the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump's dealings with Ukraine moves into the public phase, House Republicans have demanded Democrats "immediately release" transcripts from the closed-door interviews with witnesses. House Democrats say the release of transcripts may come next week.

In a letter sent to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's office dated Friday, Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., the third-ranking House Republican, said Democrats were continuing to "conduct the partisan effort to impeach the president" in secret.

"Your duty to the Constitution and the American people, as well as fundamental fairness, requires that you immediately release the full transcripts of all depositions taken since you pronounced the beginning of an impeachment inquiry on September 24, 2019," Cheney wrote.

In the six weeks since Pelosi announced the formal inquiry, House Democrats have held numerous closed-door hearings with witnesses. Democrats say the hearings behind closed doors allow witnesses to speak more candidly than they would in a public setting, but Republicans have denounced the format as a "Soviet-style" and "secret" process.

To protest the format, a group of Republican lawmakers who were not allowed to take part in the impeachment interviews entered the secure area in the Capitol basement on Oct. 23, temporarily halting the deposition of a witness.

Forty-seven Republicans already have access to the depositions through their memberships on the House Intelligence, Foreign Affairs, and Oversight Committees, as does House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif.

"Those that have complained about lack of access to the depositions – most of the members who have been permitted to attend have failed to attend, have not made use of the availability of attending each and every deposition," Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif. said at an Oct. 31 press conference.

The rules for the inquiry formalized through an Oct. 31 vote allow for the eventual release of transcripts from the impeachment inquiry and for the holding of public hearings, but did not lay out a timeline to do so.

Speaking on CNN on Oct. 31, Schiff said the release of the transcripts could come "as early as next week."

Drew Hammill, a top aide to Pelosi, responded to Cheney's critiques of the process on Twitter.

"Chairman Schiff has already announced that he expects this process to start as early as next week," he wrote on Twitter in response to a post from Cheney criticizing Pelosi for not releasing transcripts.

"Please move on to your next bogus process complaint," he added.

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