U.S. Rep. Doug Collins is the ranking Republican on the House Judiciary Committee. Elected to Congress in 2012, Collins represents north Georgia's 9th district. He has become one of President Trump's most ardent supporters ... and one of the most vocal critics of Democrat-led impeachment efforts. The president asked Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp to appoint Collins to replace the retiring Sen. Johnny Isakson. Kemp is appointing business executive Kelly Loeffler instead. Regardless, Collins may run for the Senate

Collins leads GOP opposition in first Judiciary impeachment hearing

The Gainesville Republican repeated his critique that the Democratic-led investigation was primarily fueled by contempt for President Donald Trump. He described the probe as a rushed attempt to ram through charges without evidence that the president had done anything wrong.

U.S. Rep. Doug Collins of Gainesville, the ranking Republican on the House Judiciary Committee, delivers his opening statement as committee Chairman Jerry Nadler of New York listens during the panel’s first hearing in the impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump. 
Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

“This is nothing new, folks; this is sad,” said Collins, the ranking Republican on the committee.

There were some points of levity — including when Collins joked about the room’s chilly temperature and uncomfortable chairs — but most of his comments were pointed and biting, both toward the Democrats on the committee and the three constitutional law experts who backed impeachment.

Collins also used his opening statement to criticize the decision to invite four constitutional law experts to the hearing, three of whom were recommended by Democrats and one called by Republicans. One of them, Stanford University law professor Pamela Karlan later said she took offense at his insinuation they had not reviewed the House Intelligence Committee’s impeachment report before testifying.

“Mr. Collins, I would like to say to you, sir, that I read transcripts of every one of the witnesses who appeared in the live hearing because I would not speak about these things without reviewing the facts,” she said. “So I’m insulted by the suggestion that as a law professor I don’t care about those facts.”

Throughout the meeting, Collins and other Republicans forced procedural votes on requests varying from postponing the hearing to requiring House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff and an anonymous whistleblower to testify. Democrats, who are in the majority, objected each time.

Two Georgia Democrats, U.S. Rep. Lucy McBath of Marietta, and U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson of Lithonia, sit on the committee. Johnson said the GOP members attempted to deflect attention away from the case for impeachment made by three of the legal experts.

He doesn’t think it worked.

“I think the Republicans have been pretty ineffective at rebutting what these constitutional scholars testified to today, and that is the standard for impeachment and whether or not the evidence that is available to Congress at the time meets that standard,” he said. “And the Democratic witnesses were unanimous that it does.”

Johnson said he is ready to move forward with articles of impeachment.

“The evidence is overwhelming,” he said, “and it is sufficient to proceed with impeachment.”

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