Washington • Rep. Chris Stewart said Thursday that it’s “good news” that the impeachment inquiry is nearing its end in the House and will go to a Senate trial because then the truth will come out.
“Everyone knows what they're going to do next,” Stewart, R-Utah, said of Democrats on the last day of public hearings in this phase of the impeachment inquiry. “They're going to impeach the president. They're going to send it on to the Senate. But that is the good news. That's good news.”
Stewart, who used his bully pulpit during the public hearings before the House Intelligence Committee to defend Trump and castigate the impeachment process, said that Democrats uncovered no evidence of wrongdoing by the president: no bribery, no extortion and no “firsthand” knowledge of a quid pro quo in the president asking his Ukrainian counterpart for a favor to dig up dirt on a political rival.
The Intelligence Committee is expected to finish up its part of the inquiry and send a report to the House Judiciary Committee, which will decide whether to file articles of impeachment against Trump.
With a Democratic majority, the House is believed likely to impeach a president — for the first time in about 20 years and for only the fourth time in U.S. history. The Senate is expected to then hold a two-week trial.
Democrats believe they have a proven case, backed by witnesses, that Trump ordered his personal attorney Rudy Giuliani to work with others in his administration to leverage hundreds of millions in military aid earmarked for Ukraine and a White House meeting to get the country to announce investigations into former Vice President Joe Biden and his son. Hunter Biden was on the board of a Ukrainian energy company.
The GOP has countered that while Trump may have acted outside normal channels, he didn’t do anything worthy of impeachment — or, in another line of defense, that the witnesses called didn’t provide enough evidence to stick.
Stewart said the whole process was tainted because Democrats were searching for a reason to impeach Trump rather than looking for the facts.
“The leadership of this committee has been unfair and dishonest,” Stewart said. “And I know we hear these crocodile tears from some of my colleagues who are heartbroken because they finally have to impeach this president. And we know that's absurd. They're not heartbroken. There's no prayerful tears over this. They're giddy over this. And there's not a person in the country who doesn't know that.”
Stewart’s latest commentary came after another day of witnesses testifying under oath about a shadow effort by Giuliani and other Trump officials to work outside State Department channels to secure a promise of probes into Biden and a debunked conspiracy that it was Ukraine, not Russia, that interfered in the 2016 presidential election.
Fiona Hill, a former White House adviser on Russia, told the Intelligence Committee that the Ukraine election meddling narrative was started by Russia as an attempt to sew discord with Ukraine and divert attention from Russia’s wrongdoing.
“This is a fictional narrative that has been perpetrated and propagated by the Russian security services,” Hill said Thursday and later pushed back each time a GOP member tried to reference it.
Her testimony follows that of U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland, a big Trump donor and appointee, who said clearly there was a quid pro quo and that the top ranks of Trump’s administration knew about it, adding that it was his understanding Trump had directed it.
Stewart said it was all superficial but looked forward to a Senate trial, where Trump and Republicans could call their own witnesses, including, the Utah congressman suggested, the anonymous whistleblower who first raised a red flag about the Trump-Ukraine situation and House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif.
“We’ve all been to a concert,” Stewart said. “You got the warmup band and then you got the main act. And what we’ve seen here is a warmup band. This is kind of like the Sioux City crooners. This is a band that no one’s ever heard of. But the warmup band is over. And now we’re going to go on to the main event.”
That, Stewart said, was the Senate trial.
“So we’ll finally be able to get to the truth,” he said.