WASHINGTON — Congressman Ken Buck has railed against the closed-door impeachment proceedings led by U.S. House Democrats in recent months. The process is “occurring outside of the full view of the American people,” he wrote in an October op-ed in Fox News, before the public impeachment hearings began.
But the Colorado Republican — the only member of the state’s congressional delegation with access to those closed-door briefings — appears to have skipped the vast majority of them.
An analysis of transcripts from the 15 closed-door depositions that have been released by House lawmakers shows that Buck was present at just one, the testimony of William Taylor, acting U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, on Oct. 22.
As a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, the congressman from Weld County was among the 47 Republicans who had access to the depositions.
Buck may have entered some of the depositions after the attendance was logged, in which case his presence would not necessarily have been noted in the transcript.
His office did not respond to a request for comment about his attendance.
In an Oct. 16 interview with The Colorado Independent, Buck slammed Democrats’ impeachment proceedings.
“I support oversight,” he said. “But I don’t support the way they’re going about this; I think it’s unfair.”
He told The Denver Post earlier this month that, even if the president asked a foreign government to investigate a political rival, it’s not an impeachable offense and voters should decide Trump’s fate.
Buck, a former district attorney, also sits on the House Judiciary Committee, where he’s one of two Colorado lawmakers who are likely to vote on articles of impeachment against Trump after the House Intelligence Committee completes its investigation along with the Foreign Affairs and Oversight panels. Colorado Democratic Rep. Joe Neguse also sits on the Judiciary Committee.
“I think if you held it in Judiciary Committee and you had it open to the public, it’d be one thing,” Buck said in October. “When you hold it in Intel, behind closed doors, you don’t allow the president’s counsel to appear to assert executive privilege, you are releasing information to the press and then a few days later releasing transcripts, I think that’s an unfair practice. It goes against precedent for something that’s this serious and I think that the way this is being conducted is wrong.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and other Democrats defended the closed-door proceedings as one step of the impeachment inquiry. They called it a private fact-finding process, much like the work of a grand jury, where proceedings aren’t open to the public. They have since released the transcripts and are now holding public hearings before the Intelligence Committee.
Some Republican lawmakers appear to have skipped all the depositions they had access to, according to the transcripts, while others attended just a few. By contrast, two prominent Republican members of the committee and staunch defenders of President Donald Trump — Reps. Jim Jordan of Ohio and Mark Meadows of North Carolina – attended all or most of the depositions; Jordan attended all 15 and Meadows attended 14, the transcripts show.
Meadows “believes that as a member of the Oversight Committee, it’s important for him to be present at these depositions so he can ask questions of the witnesses, listen to testimony, and fully understand the facts so he can speak accurately on the issues,” his spokesman Ben Williamson said in a statement.
States Newsroom Reporter Robin Bravender reported from Washington; Arizona Mirror Editor Jim Small reported from Phoenix.