In case the circus ran too late for most American television viewers last night, Jerrold Nadler has graciously decided to hold off the main event until this morning. That seems to have been the purpose of Nadler’s surprise adjournment of the House Judiciary Committee, just at the point when a final procedural motion had cleared the way for a final vote on articles of impeachment. At 11:15 pm ET, Nadler abruptly declared that the committee needed to “prayerfully consider” their choice and unilaterally ordered everyone back for an unscheduled session today at 10 am ET.
Ranking member Doug Collins erupted over the lack of consultation, while other Republicans called it “Stalinesque.” Another quipped, “Let’s say guilty, then let’s have the trial.” Even MSNBC seemed stunned by Nadler’s move:
“It is now very late at night,” Nadler said after presiding over the two-day session. “I want the members on both sides of the aisle to think about what has happened over these past two days and to search their consciences before they cast their final votes.” …
The Republicans on the panel, blindsided by the move, were livid. When Nadler announced that the committee wouldn’t vote until the morning, gasps were heard at the dais, and Republicans immediately started yelling “Unbelievable” and “They just want to be on TV.” Congress is set to be out of session on Friday and many lawmakers had other plans, some outside Washington.
“This is the kangaroo court that we’re talking about,” stormed Rep. Doug Collins of Georgia, the top Republican on the panel, who said he had not been consulted on the decision. “They do not care about rules, they have one thing, their hatred of Donald Trump. ”
Later, Collins accused Nadler of wanting to wait for a bigger TV audience for the final vote:
“This is why people don’t like us,” he said. “This crap like this is why people are having such a terrible opinion of Congress. What Chairman Nadler just did, and his staff, and the rest of the majority who sat there quietly and said nothing, this is why they don’t like us. They know it’s all about games. It’s all about the TV screens. They want the primetime hit. This is Speaker Pelosi and Adam Schiff and the others directing this committee. I don’t have a chairman anymore. I guess I need to just go straight to Ms. Pelosi and say, what TV hit does this committee need to do? This committee has lost all relevance. I’ll see y’all tomorrow.”
Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ) immediately recorded a video response to Nadler’s surprise move, calling it a “travesty.”
Chairman Jerry Nadler just pulled a fast one on House Judiciary Republicans. We were expecting to vote on Articles of Impeachment in Committee tonight before he recessed until tomorrow.
This is yet another of a long line of bad-faith, dishonest dealings by the Democrats. pic.twitter.com/wvPs4XE1rF
— Rep Andy Biggs (@RepAndyBiggsAZ) December 13, 2019
Collins immediately argued that this demonstrates a complete lack of credibility in the Democrats’ rush to impeachment:
Democrats lie so reflexively they can't even be honest about scheduling impeachment votes.
How can anyone trust them about the claims in their actual impeachment articles?
— Rep. Doug Collins (@RepDougCollins) December 13, 2019
The committee will reconvene now or shortly to pick up where it left off, but we can expect a lot of fireworks — and, of course, passage of the articles of impeachment. Collins and the other Republican members will likely pepper Nadler with every procedural question possible in order to highlight how they got sandbagged last night, and they will use that bigger television audience to force Nadler into even more high-handed tactics to keep the committee process under control.
That won’t have any impact on the outcome in the committee vote, but it might have an impact on a few wavering moderates in the House Democratic caucus. Voters outside the bubble don’t care much about parliamentary procedure, but they do care about fairness. More importantly, though, this will likely convince Senate Republicans to close down the process as much as possible when it comes to the trial and to use the rules negotiations now to impose some order on the lower chamber. The more ridiculous House Democrats make this, the easier it will be for Lindsey Graham and Mitch McConnell to issue a disdainful dismissal right off the bat as an expression of the House’s complete lack of decorum and seriousness.
Collins was just as angry this morning, venting on Fox & Friends over the treatment of the committee minority. It doesn’t look like the break cooled any tempers.
Update: This didn’t take long, which prompts the question (again) of why Nadler didn’t just take the vote last night. Both articles passed on a strict party-line vote:
BREAKING: The House Judiciary Committee has approved two articles of impeachment against President Trump along party lines. The articles will now go to the House floor. https://t.co/mytv31beAO pic.twitter.com/OWVh9RQmeW
— CNN (@CNN) December 13, 2019