As House Democrats ramp up their impeachment push, their adversaries on the Republican side are preparing to unleash a counter-push to disrupt impeachment proceedings, discredit the whistleblower, and interrogate every person the whistleblower spoke with.
In a show of unity, House Republicans unanimously voted on Thursday against a resolution recognizing the framework of the impeachment inquiry and outlining its next phase. Though that resolution passed, it was a chance for the GOP to lock arms on the proceedings and beat back lingering questions over just how committed Hill Republicans are to risk their political hides in defense of the president.
With the party now relatively focused, the Republicans leading the counter-impeachment campaign are taking this moment to lay out their next steps, which will continue to center on claims that the impeachment process is profoundly unfair to Trump and Republicans—and that the whole Ukraine matter was a sham to begin with.
According to GOP lawmakers and aides, the party’s game plan includes calling for witnesses who could bolster their narrative and hammering away at the anonymous whistleblower whose account launched the inquiry in the first place. They’re also holding out the possibility of more tactics to disrupt impeachment—like last week’s stunt to shut down the inquiry’s secure hearing room. Lawmakers are also likely to release a report when the probe is concluded to counter the report the Democratic majority will release to form the basis for impeachment.
That game plan—particularly its emphasis on outing the whistleblower—is already getting some pushback. On Sunday, Mark Zaid, the lawyer representing the whistleblower, wrote on Twitter that they had offered Republican lawmakers a “direct opportunity to ask written questions of the whistleblower” without compromising his or her identity. Zaid added that the GOP has “sought to expose our client’s identity which could jeopardize their safety, as well as that of their family.”
A GOP source connected to the impeachment told The Daily Beast Republicans in the House probably won’t take up the whistleblower’s lawyers on their offer to field written questions. “I don’t think we will settle for scripted interrogatories,” the source said. “We need a full accounting of his actions and how this was orchestrated.”