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The House Judiciary Committee’s second impeachment hearing got testy Monday when Democrats allowed a lawyer who had already served as a witness to return to the bench and cross-examine other witnesses.
Lawyer Barry Berke, who was selected to be the Judiciary Democrats’ counsel, started the hearing by presenting his opinion as a witness as to why President Donald Trump should be impeached. After serving as a witness, Berke was then assigned to question and cross-examine other witnesses at the hearing.
As Berke started questioning the Republican counsel, Steve Castor, Republican Texas Rep. Louie Gohmert interrupted to clarify if a witness could also serve as a questioner under House rules. Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler refused to acknowledge Gohmert’s point of order.
“There is no rule or precedent for anybody being a witness and then getting to come up and question, so — the point of order is he’s inappropriate to be up here asking questions,” Gohmert asked.
“How much money do you have to give to get to do that?” Gohmert added, presumably referencing the fact that Berke has donated over $100,000 to Democrats.
Nadler responded by urging Gohmert not to “cast aspersions” on members of the committee.
Several journalists questioned the arrangement on Twitter, indicating that allowing someone to serve as both a witness and a questioner was unprecedented.
Why is witness Barry Burke now asking witness questions @replouiegohmert is asking ? Good question! Never saw this before.
— Martha MacCallum (@marthamaccallum) December 9, 2019
Wow. Nadler has his counsel sit a witness, then has him walk up to the dais and grill his fellow witness. Yah, that's normal and fair… (Not.) What a zoo.
— Kimberley Strassel (@KimStrassel) December 9, 2019
I just went to grab a salad and when I came back the witness who was testifying before is now +up on the dais+ interrogating the guy who was previously sitting next to him. Am I seeing things? #ImpeachmentHearing Did I miss the musical chairs music?
— Melissa Francis (@MelissaAFrancis) December 9, 2019