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GOP looks to bolster its impeachment inquiry team with pro-Trump firebrand

Sarah D. Wire, Los Angeles Times on

Published in News & Features

"(McCarthy) has full discretion to put our most effective questioners on Intel for this matter," Gaetz tweeted, adding that if he didn't, "then shame on us for failing @realDonaldTrump."

Party leaders understand that the impeachment inquiry is not simply a legal fight, it's about messaging and positioning as well.

Schiff is exceedingly comfortable laying out Democrats' arguments in front of the camera, and is ready for a fight over public opinion. He's been the public face of the inquiry since it was announced in late September.

Meanwhile, Nunes has appeared on Fox News a few times and done interviews with other conservative outlets while refusing to answer questions from Capitol Hill reporters. For weeks, it has been left to Jordan, Meadows and Zeldin to argue Trump's case -- and explain which witnesses' testimony matters or doesn't -- to reporters and the American public after nearly every deposition.

"I just want to help our team. I want to help the country see the truth here that President Trump didn't do anything wrong," Jordan told Fox News this week.

Nunes was once a little-known, though fairly legislatively effective, back bench member of Congress. In the last three years, he has transformed into a conservative media darling, especially following his embrace of Trump's theories that the investigation into Russian attempts to influence the 2016 election was a "deep state" hoax.


McCarthy and Nunes have been close since college, and the minority leader has defended his friend in the past, saying Nunes will play a key role in the impeachment inquiry.

The five transcripts released so far show Nunes has also only sporadically attended the closed-door depositions over the past month, and at those he has attended, he asked few questions.

According to the transcripts, Nunes' questioning has consisted of briefly asking two State Department officials if they were aware that Ukrainians might have provided information for the so-called Steele dossier, a document funded by Democrats that played a role in launching the two-year special counsel investigation into what Trump knew about Russian interference in the 2016 election.

It spurred a snippy back-and-forth between Schiff and Nunes about the accuracy of Nunes' questions.


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