(CNSNews.com) - The House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday begins the next phase of the impeachment inquiry, a prelude to issuing articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump.
Wednesday's planned hearing, titled "Constitutional Grounds for Presidential Impeachment," will feature four legal "experts," still unnamed. Three will advocate for the Democrats' impeachment push, which President Trump is calling unfair.
"The Do Nothing Democrats get 3 Constitutional lawyers for their Impeachment hoax (they will need them!), the Republicans get one. Oh, that sounds fair!" Trump tweeted on Monday morning.
House rules give the majority party the advantage in calling witnesses, but Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.), the ranking member of the Judiciary Committee, said normal rules should not prevail in an impeachment inquiry:
"Why are we doing this on a normal 3:1 ratio?" Collins asked during an appearance on "Fox News Sunday."
"If it's so important like we did with Clinton where we had almost four times as many of these witnesses, why don't at least get two for two? Why don't we at least have more witnesses in this process?"
Collins said Democrats are rushing to finish their impeachment push by the end of the year, "because they want to get at this president right now before...everybody completely sees through the process sham of the elections for next year. So we're rushing this," he said.
Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.), a member of the Judiciary Committee, defended the 3 to 1 witness ratio: "Well, three witnesses consistent with the congressional rules will be called by the majority on the House Judiciary Committee and then one witness, as Congressman Collins indicated, will be called by the minority. That is consistent with the current House rules."
"But why three to one? Why not two and two?" host Chris Wallace asked Jeffries.
Well, that's something to be discussed, but what's most important is let's have a discussion, Chris, about the 12 fact witnesses who have already testified, all of whom were members of the Trump administration.
Ambassador Volker, Trump appointee. Ambassador Sondland, Trump appointee. Ambassador Taylor, Trump appointee. Dr. Fiona Hill, Trump appointee. Jennifer Williams, Trump appointee. Lieutenant Colonel Vindman, Trump appointee.
All of whom confirmed the central allegations here of the wrongdoing engaged in by the president with respect to pressuring a foreign government to target an American citizen. That is the abuse of power that we are concerned about. That act undermined America's national security.
Republicans and President Trump strongly deny any quid pro quo in Trump's July 25 call to the Ukraine president. They note that U.S. military aid flowed; Trump met with the Ukraine president on the sidelines of the United Nations in September; and those things happened without Ukraine announcing or conducting any of the investigations that Trump mentioned in the July 25 call.
Trump on Monday told reporters that Democrats are deliberately holding the next phase of impeachment hearings while he's out of the country at a long-planned NATO summit.
The White House has refused a Judiciary Committee invitation to have its own lawyers present on Wednesday to question the witnesses. Trump told reporters he won't have the White House participate in what he considers the ongoing "hoax."
"Heading to Europe to represent our Country and fight hard for the American People while the Do Nothing Democrats purposely scheduled an Impeachment Hoax hearing on the same date as NATO. Not nice!"