Rep. Ron Wright is in the room each day where congressional lawmakers are quizzing impeachment inquiry witnesses — yet he joined about 40 fellow Republicans to storm the room this week.
The Texas Republican was making a point.
“The American people should be outraged about the manner in which this is being conducted,” Wright told McClatchy Friday.
“All we want is a transparent process like previous impeachment inquiries have had,” he added.
Wright, first elected to Congress last year, said Democratic leaders are collecting testimony behind closed doors in “an attempt to control the information that the American people get.”
The Texas Democratic Party opposed Wright’s decision to join the protest in the SCIF, the secure basement room where the inquiry is proceeding. SCIF is an acronym for sensitive compartmented information facility.
“Texas Republicans continue to do everything in their power to undermine this critical investigation,” Texas Democratic Party Executive Director Manny Garcia said in a statement.
Wright is a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, one of the three committees conducting the impeachment inquiry.
Only members of the three committees, including the House Oversight and Reform Committee and the House Intelligence Committee, are allowed into the secure room to hear witness testimony and review documents related to the investigation.
The House Republicans who protested this week wanted the proceedings to be made public.
“I’m on foreign affairs so I get to go in there anyway,” Wright said, but “I joined my colleagues because what’s happening here is a gross miscarriage of justice.”
However, a new Quinnipiac University poll last week suggested that more than half of Americans support the impeachment inquiry, leading Abhi Rahman, the communications director for the Texas Democratic Party to believe that Republicans are “very mistaken if they think [this protest was] a good idea.
“What it really shows is the lack of respect for the impeachment inquiry,” Rahman said.
Wright said he was also frustrated about how Republicans who are on the three investigating committees are treated. Democrats, who run the House, run the committees.
“I can’t even go in [to the secure room] and look at a transcript without a Democratic staffer being in the room with me,” he said. “How ridiculous is that? How insulting is that, that a member of Congress can’t go in without a Democratic staffer being there with them?”
He also pointed out that Republican members of the committees cannot call witnesses to testify and Republican staffers are not allowed into the secure room.
He claimed that those rules make the process unfair to House Republicans, unfair to President Trump and unclear to constituents.
“[Democrats] and their staffers are cherry picking information and leaking it every single day,” Wright said. “Invariably it’s going to be parts of testimony that make the president look bad.”