GOP lawmaker says 'out-of-the-box strategy' could give Trump an 'advantage' in impeachment hearings

Kadia Tubman
Reporter

Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., on Sunday said it would play to the “president’s advantage” to have his top administration officials, in an “out-of-the-box strategy,” testify in the upcoming impeachment hearings. 

“[Do] you believe that Rudy Giuliani, Mick Mulvaney, Mike Pompeo should all come testify now?” asked ABC’s “This Week” host George Stephanopoulos. 

“I believe that Rudy Giuliani has indicated that he wants to. So, I think that's a moot point,” Gaetz said. 

“As it relates to the other members of the executive branch, the president has to make decisions not only for him but for the presidency,” he continued. “I think it would inure to the president's advantage to have people testify who could exculpate him.”

Gaetz, a Republican member of the House Judiciary Committee, referred to the White House’s potential participation in the hearings as an example of an “out-of-the-box strategy” that needed to be preserved for the executive branch. 

“If everyone is always worried from now going forward that if you suggest something to the president or you're engaging in conversations about an upcoming challenge that’s going to be read out verbatim to the Congress and the country,” Gatez told Stephanopoulos, “I think it could impair the type of creativity and out-of-the-box thinking that we want to see in the executive.”

Trump had made a similar argument in blocking his officials  from testifying as part of the House impeachment inquiry, tweeting, “I am fighting for future Presidents and the Office of the President.”

A day after the Judiciary Committee convened its first impeachment hearing, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Thursday asked her colleagues to pursue articles of impeachment against Trump for his “failure to faithfully execute the law” in his dealings with Ukraine, which involve allegedly withholding a White House meeting and military aid as he pressured Ukraine to investigate his political rivals.

Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla. (Photo: Samuel Corum/Getty Images)

“The facts are uncontested,” she said. “The president abused his power for his own personal political benefit at the expense of our national security by withholding military aid and a crucial Oval Office meeting in exchange for an announcement of an investigation into his political rival.”

Following Pelosi’s statements, the committee announced that its second public impeachment hearing, scheduled for Monday. If the Democratic-led House approves articles of impeachment, which could include abuse of power, bribery, and obstruction charges, they would be sent over to the Republican-controlled Senate for a trial that would begin in January. A vote on impeachment charges is expected as early as this week

The White House, in a letter to Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., rejected an invitation for Trump’s counsel to participate in the hearings. 

While Trump has continuously blasted the impeachment inquiry, calling it a “one-sided sham process” and blocking his highest-profile officials from testifying before a Democratic-dominated House, the president has also said he would "love" for his administration officials to testify in the Senate. 

“It will be fair in the Senate,” he said ahead of the first House impeachment hearing.

Following the hearing, during which three out of four constitutional scholars testified that they believe Trump committed impeachable offenses, Trump tweeted, “If you are going to impeach me, do it now, fast, so we can have a fair trial in the Senate, and so that our Country can get back to business.”

However, Nadler on CNN’s “State of the Union” Sunday claimed Democrats have a “very rock solid case” against Trump, adding that “if presented to a jury” there would be “a guilty verdict in about three minutes flat.”

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