Another thought about those “secret hearings”

The Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee have been griping publicly about the closed door hearings. They’ve accused Democrats of shutting them out, not releasing transcripts and a whole heap of other wrongs.

Well, we all should know this is bollocks.

The Republicans have members in those hearings. The members can ask questions, as they do in the open hearings. Then the court reporter taking down the testimony transcribes it. Each testimony transcript is released after it is reviewed and signed off on by the witness who gave it. This can take a few days or more.

Then all members of the committee — including the Republicans — get copies of the transcript.

Subsequently, once a witness is summoned to an open hearing, the Republicans have the same time to question him or her as do the Democrats.

One thing that hasn’t been emphasized about this:

I see the closed door testimony as equivalent to the deposition phase in a civil legal matter. During depositions, lawyers are pretty free to ask all sorts of questions — questions that may eventually be barred by the judge if the matter goes to trial.

After the testimony is transcribed by the court reporter, the lawyers receive a copy of the testimony transcript and get to plunk it down on their desks and study it. They read it thoroughly and make notes on anything they see as a weakness or a strength in the witness testimony. They prepare to examine or cross the witness at trial by probing into those weaknesses or strengths, depending on what side they’re on.

So the closed door hearings are a sort of rehearsal for the big show. They provide valuable information for the lawyers. Some of which are those Republicans who are complaining.

The Republicans who kvetch about those “secret hearings” are either too lazy to have reviewed the transcripts effectively for the public hearings, or have found no weaknesses in the witness testimony to probe in their public cross-examinations.

So when Jim Jordan, et al, yell about those closed door hearings, he’s really yelling that he hasn’t read the transcripts, or his staff hasn’t found anything to challenge.

All that yelling is a confession of incompetence and/or failure.

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