Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) joined a special evening edition of the podcast War Room: Impeachment late Monday, just minutes after Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) announced that the House will hold a floor vote on Thursday to formalize the beginning of impeachment proceedings against President Trump.
Gaetz told hosts Stephen K. Bannon, Jason Miller, and Raheem Kassam that Speaker Pelosi caved because Democrats “could no longer defend the process.”
Here’s the full transcript of the interview:
Bannon: Congressman Gaetz here’s the question. You broke the fever last Thursday. Tell us what’s going on here. Because this is an explosive event that happened this afternoon. And I can’t imagine that Nancy Pelosi willingly did this.
Gaetz: Here’s the context that I use to evaluate Nancy Pelosi’s cave decision today. Pelosi does not keep her head on a swivel. She is known in this town as someone that plans and plots every single step along the way. She is a meticulous planner. So for Nancy Pelosi to have this radical shift in her thinking.
To shift away from a vote authorizing an impeachment inquiry, a Republican talking point to now it being the Democrat message of the week. That’s a substantial shift. Something had to motivate her. I believe that motivation came when Democrats in Congress could no longer defend the process that was underway.
You’ve got a lot of Democrats in districts Donald Trump won and I think Nancy Pelosi heard from those members and that with a straight face they couldn’t defend the procedure that had been undertaken. Now I think to Jason’s question.
We’ve got to get to the substance. Beyond the procedure to the actual substance of the defense. And the defense is that the President is innocent. And if we get Ambassador Volker’s transcripts into the public square. If we have the opportunity for open examination of witnesses I think we’ll be able to prove that definitively to the American people.
Miller: Congressman, question for you here. The other thing people should know is that as part of these proceedings, Speaker Pelosi has said after Thursday’s vote, that she’s going to move the hearings away from being under Adam Schiff’s purview in the intel committee and over to Jerry Nadler’s purview in the judiciary.
Now we know, that in the 1998 impeachment of Bill Clinton, that most of this happened through the judiciary where there was a more fair and equitable process. But there also seems to be here a benching of Adam Schiff as he’s become a complete lightning rod in this process.
Now the good news, moving to the judiciary is we’re going to see a whole lot more of Matt Gaetz which is fantastic. Along with Jim Jordan, Biggs and Gohmert. But can you talk a little bit about the distinction and the differences in moving from intel to judiciary?
Gaetz: Absolutely. It means that House Democrats believe that they want to fashion the Schiff work into actual articles of impeachment. Adam Schiff and Jerry Nadler are playing a strange game of musical chairs. Nadler originally had jurisdiction. Originally launched the impeachment inquiry.
But then after the hearings with Robert Mueller and with Corey Lewandowski, a lot of rank and file Democrats lost confidence in Jerry Nadler because the American people were not buying the overstated claims and allegations about the Russia hoax. So then enters Adam Schiff.
Adam Schiff deployed a strategy that really eroded his credibility. I think the American people would not trust him as a fair arbiter of anything regarding President Trump because he was so secretive and so insistent on using a leak based strategy instead of open hearings which the public typically favor.
So now Nadler’s back in the game. The original starter. Back to try to secure his position. And we’ll see how it goes. But I think that what we can take from the decision to go from intel to back into judiciary is that they are now trying to take what they’ve got and fashion them in articles of impeachment.
Miller: And congressman, what you just said there was very very important and I want to make sure that we don’t gloss over this. The fact that they’re now trying to legitimize all the un-legitimate work that Adam Schiff did, by taking his work product and shifting over to this ‘fair and open process’ with Jerry Nadler is huge.
They are absolutely trying to go an absolutely try and railroad this thing through and I think we have to make sure we keep blowing that up as we move into Thursday and beyond.
Gaetz: Well, and there’s another way to blow this up, Jason. Frankly, I don’t trust Jerry Nadler anymore than I trust Adam Schiff to run an open process because Jerry Nadler was one of the people lying to the country for two and half years about the Russia hoax.
If we are going to have open hearings with witnesses telling divergent views on facts. I think that chairman Lindsey Grahm, my good friend someone who I think does a good job in the Senate. I think he ought to hold hearings. He ought to put Ambassador Volker right alongside Ambassador Taylor.
They’ve got two very different stories that they’ve told. And let’s just flush it out. I think we’ll get a fairer process with Senator Graham gaveling in and bringing those witnesses in than we ever can get from Jerry Nadler or Adam Schiff or any other of the Trump-hating folks in the leadership in the House Democrat side.
Kassam: Congressman Gaetz, Rasheem Kasam here, for people who are just sort of tuning in to this and of finding this out and figuring out what is all going on. The Democrats had said that this was a process that they expected to go to Thanksgiving. Maybe to Christmas. Maybe beyond.
They were being very cagey and willy about what happened. I have a long list in front of me. And we can through it if you have time. Do you suspect as I do, that perhaps these testimonies weren’t quite working out the way they had hoped? That there wasn’t this great smoking gun that they had been perpetuating before the American people?
And now they’re having to put their foot on the accelerator. It switches committees. All the people involved are switching very quickly. Is this now looking like they’ve overextended here?
Gaetz: Yeah it sort of looks like a line change in a hockey game.
Kassam: Can you do that in soccer terms for me?
Gaetz: (Chuckles) So I think that what you see in this shift from House Democrats likely shows the lack of a smoking gun. The lack of a central piece of evidence or a central theme. I also think it means that the Democrats understand their evidence isn’t going to get better with age.
In litigated cases, you learn the best evidence rule. This means, that if the evidence isn’t more or less the most authentic or original evidence, it frankly can be barred from evidence by a judge. Well, here the best evidence is unquestionably the transcript between President Trump and President Zelensky.
Which shows no pressure. No quid pro quo. And then you’ve got Zelensky’s own statements which are indicative of what occurred, his state of mind, in the richest and fullest context. And he says, ‘No pressure. No quid pro quo.’
And so with those two headwinds blasting at the Democrats, they understand that there is not going to be a better atmospheric condition for them to lift off with this impeachment inquiry. And so they’re simply doing it despite the tremendous turbulence it’s causing.
Kassam: Congressman Gaetz, I know we got to let you jump. I just want to bring in Jason here.
Miller: Congressman, one final question for you. Alex Moe from NBC News just Tweeted out that she approached Speaker Pelosi to comment on the impeachment resolution. And she replied, ‘It’s not an impeachment resolution.’ Can you shed some light on what the heck it is then?
Gaetz: Yeah. I think it’s a messaging document for Democrats to try to clap back at the critiques that I’ve made and my colleagues have made regarding the lack of any formalized structure. See, when I took my colleagues and entered the committee room and sat down, we essentially called their bluff.
We showed that there was no rule by which that they could continue to justify this process and that they were going to have to institutionalize some system before the American people. So in a sense, what you see today, vindicates my efforts last week because we had a big old flashlight and shined it on the cockroaches. And they’re scattering.
And the fact that Nancy Pelosi doesn’t know whether it’s an impeachment resolution or an impeachment inquiry or a justification of a prior inquiry. It only I think reinforces how scatterbrained they are thinking because the evidence isn’t getting any better. And I think the American people are starting to see this for the not only procedural sham that it is but for the substance of sham that it is.
Kassam: Congressman Matt Gaetz thank you so much for joining us on this emergency podcast of the War Room.
Listen to the full hour of Episode 9 here.
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