Ga. Rep. Jody Hice missed most closed-door impeachment depositions

    Updated at 8 p.m.: This story has been updated to include information from transcripts released Tuesday evening.

    WASHINGTON — Georgia Republican Rep. Jody Hice has railed against the closed-door impeachment proceedings led by U.S. House Democrats.

    In October, before a death in the family pulled him away from Washington, he joined his GOP colleagues in a press conference assailing what he called a “shroud of secrecy” surrounding the Democrats’ impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump.

    But Hice was among the House lawmakers who had access to those closed-door hearings. He is the only member of Georgia’s U.S. congressional delegation who sits on the committees allowed to attend those sessions, but an analysis of the transcripts shows he missed most of them.

    Hice attended four of the depositions, according to his office, although he was only listed as present at one of the 17 hearings for which transcripts have been released.

    Lawmakers may have entered some of the depositions after the attendance was logged, in which case their presence would not necessarily have been noted in the transcripts.

    Hice reviewed the transcripts of several other depositions, according to his office. Four witnesses testified the week of Oct. 28, when Hice was back home in Georgia after his father died, his office said.

    House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and other Democrats defended the closed-door proceedings as one step of the impeachment inquiry. They called it a private fact-finding process, much like the work of a grand jury, where proceedings aren’t open to the public. They have since released most of the transcripts and held public hearings before the Intelligence Committee. The Judiciary Committee announced on Tuesday that it will begin its own hearings on Dec. 4.

    Some Republican lawmakers appear to have skipped all the depositions they had access to, according to the transcripts, while others attended just a few. By contrast, two prominent Republican lawmakers and staunch defenders of Trump — Reps. Jim Jordan of Ohio and Mark Meadows of North Carolina – each attended 16 depositions the transcripts show.

    Meadows “believes that as a member of the Oversight Committee, it’s important for him to be present at these depositions so he can ask questions of the witnesses, listen to testimony, and fully understand the facts so he can speak accurately on the issues,” his spokesman Ben Williamson said in a statement.

    Georgia will have more representation in the next phase of the inquiry as it moves to the Judiciary Committee. Georgia Rep. Doug Collins, the top Republican on that panel, is expected to lead the defense of the president. Democratic Reps. Hank Johnson and Lucy McBath, who are also on the committee, both supported the impeachment investigation.

    Arizona Mirror Editor Jim Small contributed to this report.

     

    Robin Bravender
    Robin Bravender is the D.C. Bureau Chief for States Newsroom, a network of nonprofit news publications, including the Georgia Recorder. Previously, Robin was a reporter for Politico, E&E News and Thomson Reuters.