Louisiana Congressman Mike Johnson calls impeachment inquiry 'charade' before hearing
Republican Louisiana Congressmen Mike Johnson defended President Trump ahead of this week's House Judiciary Committee impeachment hearing, calling the process a "charade."
"(Democrats) have been engaged in this charade since the president took office," said Johnson, who is also chairman of the conservative Republican Study Committee. "They've changed the narrative multiple times along the way, but their goal has been to impeach the president."
The House investigation launched by Democrats seeks to determine whether Trump threatened to withhold $400 million in military aid to Ukraine unless that country moved forward with investigations the president sought that could help him politically.
Trump has insisted there was no "quid pro quo" for the aid, which was eventually released to Ukraine.
The House Intelligence Committee led by Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., outlined the evidence of the investigation. House Judiciary will outline the law, Constitution and debate whether the president committed impeachable offenses.
Johnson said he watched as much of the previous hearings as time allowed.
"So far I don't think anything comes close to an impeachable offense," Johnson said. "Impeachment is reserved for the most extreme acts. We just don't have that here. That's why the Democrats never should have brought it to this point."
Louisiana's only Democratic Congressman Cedric Richmond is also on House Judiciary and will take a different tack than Johnson, though he hasn't been as vocal an advocate for the impeachment inquiry as other Democrats.
Richmond represents Louisiana's 2nd Congressional District, which includes most of New Orleans.
Johnson represents Louisiana's 4th Congressional District with Shreveport-Bossier City as its population hub.
Johnson said he and other Republicans "are very frustrated by the process."
Johnson accused Democrats of stacking the deck of witnesses favorable to their narrative and of keeping much of the testimony and evidence secret from House Republicans.
"I don't know who the witnesses are or whether (Schiff) will allow us to view the underlying evidence," he said. "I've not been able to see the documents under seal. Republicans requested nine witnesses and were granted only three, so it's been a lopsided and unfair process."
Johnson said he will go into Judiciary Committee hearings "with an open mind as is my constitutional obligation, but so far so much of the previous testimony is pure hearsay."
"Several witnesses said they had concerns, but they were based on their own presumptions," he said. "Unless there's something new that's all I've seen so far."
On Sunday, the White House said neither the president nor his attorneys will participate in the House Judiciary hearings.
"This baseless and highly partisan inquiry violates all past historical precedent, basic due process rights, and fundamental fairness," White House counsel Pat Cipollone wrote to Rep. Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., chairman of the House Judiciary Committee.