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story.lead_photo.caption From left: U.S. Reps. Rick Crawford, French Hill, Bruce Westerman and Steve Womack.

WASHINGTON -- The four Arkansas Republicans serving in the U.S. House of Representatives voted Thursday to oppose House Democrats' impeachment inquiry, with the state's delegation portraying the process, up to now, as a sham.

The deck, they maintained, has been stacked against President Donald Trump and his Republican allies.

Democrats have created a "secretive Soviet-style process, [an] investigation that's going on behind closed doors, under a cloud of secrecy" to undermine a duly-elected president, said U.S. Rep. Steve Womack of Rogers.

"To me, it's nothing but a hyperpartisan attempt to take down the president," he added.

No evidence of high crimes or misdemeanors has emerged, according to Womack and the others.

[RELATED: House formalizes its inquiry as probe on Trump goes on » arkansasonline.com/news/2019/nov/01/house-formalizes-its-inquiry-20191101/]

The facts, for the most part, have been hidden by the Democrats, the Arkansans said.

"I'm not getting any information other than what's being leaked to the media, and who knows how accurate that is?" said U.S. Rep. Bruce Westerman of Hot Springs.

"I feel like a member of the Mushroom Caucus on this. You know how you grow mushrooms? You keep them in the dark and feed them manure. As a member of Congress, that's kind of how I feel about this whole process," Westerman said.

The new rules are "lacking in transparency," U.S. Rep. French Hill of Little Rock said.

"I think this [resolution] enshrines the current process and therefore it's not an improvement over the current basement proceedings," he added.

The rules approved Thursday simply strengthen the hand of House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., said fellow committee member U.S. Rep. Rick Crawford of Jonesboro.

The resolution authorizes, but does not require, Schiff to release transcripts of the depositions, said Crawford. It also gives Schiff veto power over the witnesses that Republicans call, he added.

"This is really a very simple choice," Crawford said. "Do you want to continue a dictatorial process or do you want to have a fair process?"

None of the Arkansans expressed faith in Schiff's leadership.

"He's trying to be the prosecutor here. He's trying to be the judge and the jury," Westerman said. "I guess maybe he'll want to be the executioner at the end of the day."

[RELATED: Trump aide verifies key testimony » arkansasonline.com/news/2019/nov/01/trump-aide-verifies-key-testimony-20191/]

Womack portrayed the Democratic effort as futile.

"Impeach him if you want to, but he's never going to be convicted in the Senate so it's never going anywhere," Womack said.

The goal, Crawford said, is to prevent Trump from winning a second term.

"This is not about nullifying the 2016 election as much as it is about preempting the 2020 election," he said. "If these Democrats had any faith at all in any one of their candidates, they wouldn't need this charade, they would take care of this at the ballot box."

It's no surprise that Democrats are fixated on trying to remove Trump from office, Womack said.

"The leadership in the House, the new majority, came in with a single objective, really. And that was: 'Get rid of the president,'" he said. "They used every lever and every tool in their toolbox and chased every rabbit down every hole that they could find to take down the president and none of it has worked."

With Democrats fixating on impeachment, they're neglecting the important issues that need to be addressed, he said.

"The other side says they can walk and chew gum at the same time. There's no evidence of that. There have been more subpoenas than there have been laws passed," Womack said. "They're throwing more stuff up against the wall, just hoping some of it sticks."

"That's no way to run a country," he added.

A Section on 11/01/2019

Print Headline: State's 4 House members all 'no' on impeachment inquiry vote

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