Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., discussed Republicans' strategy to combat the ongoing impeachment investigation into President Trump after House Democrats denied their requests for official testimony from the anonymous whistleblower, as the country gears up for the first public impeachment hearings on Wednesday.
"So what's your Plan B? It looks like the House Democrats are going to go forward with impeachment?" asked Maria Bartiromo on her Fox Nation show "Maria Bartiromo's Insiders".
"Our job is to expose to the American people the political illegitimacy" of the Democrat's impeachment efforts, he explained.
Gaetz said that while Republicans "cannot stop the Democrats from impeaching Donald Trump if they'd like to," he is confident the Senate will not vote to convict the President. Additionally, he said it is up to House Republicans to expose the tactics used by Democrats to further their impeachment cause.
"Americans who want to see the [U.S. Mexico Canada trade agreement] passed and want to see our farmers supported, who want to see an infrastructure bill, or asylum reform...they're being left to play second fiddle to the political ambitions of Democrats who are so afflicted by Trump Derangement Syndrome that they've forgotten their constituents and they're pursuing investigations and impeachment, instead of the policies that can lift up this great country," Gaetz said.
Gaetz's appearance on the Fox Nation show came days after he attempted to attend the testimony of Fiona Hill, a former deputy assistant to the president, but was told that because he was not a member of the House Intelligence Committee that he had to leave. Gaetz currently sits on the House Judiciary Committee.
A frustrated Gaetz aired his disappointment after being told he was not allowed to sit in on the hearing, venting his anger over what he says are “selective leaks” by House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., and questioning why he was not allowed to be present during Hill’s testimony.
"Now, instead of pushing information out to the public, the strategy has changed for Democrats. They've tried to draw information in - carefully craft leaks and now in the upcoming week, we'll see public testimony sequenced the way Democrats would like to front-load the most negative information about the president from people who have no firsthand information, but who are simply analyzing the sphere of rumors around them," Gaetz said.
The Florida Congressman also took aim at the media during the interview, after the New York Daily News reprinted a Palm Beach Post op-ed calling his efforts "unnecessary, unproductive and a distraction," he explained.
"My shock in that op-ed is really with the media," said Gaetz. "If Republicans were trying to undo the results of an election behind closed doors with nefarious leaks, you would see the media going crazy. Now you've got the media just waiting like pigeons for Adam Schiff to throw in a little bit of feed and then they go and carry that off in precisely the way he would like it to be done."
Hoping to combat the "double standard from the media," explained Gaetz, Republican leadership has assigned House Oversight Committee Ranking Member Jim Jordan to serve on the House Intelligence Committee so he can participate in questioning in the open impeachment hearings later this week.
"The way we're trying to counteract that strategy from the media and the Democrats is to try to put our best members like Jim Jordan on the Intelligence Committee so that we can really get to the bottom of what happened," Gaetz said. "Certainly Jordan helps beef up our team with Radcliffe and Nunez and many other talented people on the intelligence committee."
When Fox Business host Maria Bartiromo asked the Congressman about his predictions for the findings of the long-awaited report from Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz on potential surveillance abuses by intelligence officials during the 2016 Russia investigation, Gaetz said he doesn't anticipate a "criminal element" to the report.
"I don't expect the IG report that should be coming very soon to itself have a criminal element to it... I think that's why you've got the Durham investigation," Gaetz said, referring to U.S. Attorney John Durham's ongoing probe into potential FBI and Justice Department misconduct in the run-up to the 2016 election.
"But in terms of where it's going," he continued, "I think this is going deep into the Obama White House because of the places that Durham has gone to try to establish these factual predicates. If people in the Obama White House were trying to convince our Western allies to do things that would have been illegal for our country to do, that is the unlawful collusion that we've got to get to. The bottom of that is the true election interference...and it's what's been going on to try to destabilize a presidency that's been overwhelmingly productive for the American people."
As the highly anticipated Wednesday hearings draw near, Gaetz said he "hopes the American people will realize" the truth about those testifying.
"I think...the American people will realize that all of the folks coming forward to share negative information about the president are limited in their firsthand accounts, and they also have fundamental policy disagreements that they're trying to fashion into an impeachment basis," he said.
"But at the end of the day," Gaetz concluded, "we're here because Democrats in the House are humiliated over the Russia investigation. They're terrified in the deep state about the upcoming FISA report and the criminal Durham investigation. And so we've got the knock-off Ukrainian sequel to the Russia hoax to try to distract the country."