We've been praising the performance of New York Rep. Elise Stefanik during Schiff's "inquiry" hearings, and Schiff himself must have taken note of her skills and is appropriately wary. In fact, he used his own rules to shut her down AGAIN.
It happened close to the start of ranking member Devin Nunes' allotted 45-minute questioning time. In just a few questions, he quickly showed that Marie Yovanovich had not been involved in any way in the issue of the Bidens and the military aid to Ukraine, that her time of service had preceded all that and that her removal from duty there was more a problem for Human Resources than this impeachment hearing. After nailing the point that Yovanovich was not a material fact witness, he yielded his time to Rep. Stefanik. Here's how that played...
Nunes: I know, Ms. Stefanik, you have a few quick questions for the ambassador. I yield to you, Ms. Stefanik.
Stefanik: Thank you, Mr. Nunes. Ambassador Yovanovitch, thank you for being here today---
Schiff: The gentlewoman will suspend. The gentlewoman will suspend.
Stefanik: What is the interruption for this time? It is our time.
Schiff: The gentlewoman will suspend. You are not recognized. Mr. Nunes, you are---
Nunes: I just recognized---
Schiff: Under the House Resolution 660 you are not allowed to yield time except to minority counsel---
Stefanik: The ranking member yielded time to another member of Congress---
Schiff: No, nope. (pounds gavel) That is not accurate.
Stefanik: That IS accurate---
Nunes: You're gagging the (inaudible) from New York?
Stefanik: Ambassador Yovanovich, I want to thank you for---
Schiff: The gentlewoman will suspend (pounds gavel). You are not recognized.
Stefanik: This is the fifth time you have interrupted members of Congress, duly elected members of Congress---
Schiff: You are not recognized (pounds gavel). The gentlewoman will suspend.
Nunes: Mr. Chairman, we control the time; as is customary in this committee whoever controls the time can yield to whoever they wish. If we have members of Congress that have a few questions, it seems appropriate that we be able to let Ms. Stefanik ask her questions.
Schiff: Mr. Nunes, you or minority counsel are recognized.
At that point, Nunes recognized the minority counsel for questioning Yovanovich, and the hearing continued. Maybe there's some other "rule" that prevented Nunes from doing this, but I wish he'd have instead asked Stefanik for her notes, she'd have passed them to him, and he'd have continued questioning Yovanovich himself, from her notes. That would have been great to see.
The rule Schiff referenced must have been part of the special rules for the "inquiry" committee approved by partisan vote; normally, Nunes WOULD be allowed to yield time to Stefanik or to whomever he chose. This exchange highlights not only Schiff's hesitation to allow Stefanik to question this witness but also the stunningly tight control Schiff is exerting on these hearings. Normal rules are out the window.
It truly is a kangaroo court.