Who’s holding the impeachment hearings? Meet the House Intelligence Committee

Backgrounds vary on Intelligence Committee looking at impeachment of Trump

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., right, ranking member Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., center, and Rep. Mike Conaway, R-Texas, prepare for a hearing in September. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Most members of the House Intelligence Committee aren’t household names, but they’re about to be thrust into the national spotlight.

The committee this week begins public hearings in the House’s impeachment inquiry, which is investigating whether President Donald Trump abused his office by withholding military aid to Ukraine in exchange for investigations into his political opponents.

On Wednesday, lawmakers will hear from two diplomats, William Taylor, the acting U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, and George Kent, the deputy assistant secretary of State for European and Eurasian affairs. On Friday they will hear from Marie Yovanovitch, the former American ambassador to Ukraine, who was abruptly removed from her post this spring.

The hearings will open with 90-minute rounds of questioning, led by Chairman Adam B. Schiff and top Republican member Devin Nunes or their designees, alternating between parties every 45 minutes. After the leaders’ questioning ends, the remaining members — 12 Democrats and 8 Republicans — get five minutes each to ask questions or comment, alternating between parties.

Released transcripts show staff attorneys for the minority and majority took the lead on questioning witnesses during the closed depositions. They may play a substantive role in the public hearings, with cameras trained on these lawyers as much, or even more, than the elected officials in the room.

Members of the panel are not facing competitive reelections, according to race ratings from Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales. The one lawmaker in a competitive district, Texas GOP Rep. Will Hurd, is retiring.

Meet the members of the Intelligence Committee:

The Democrats

Adam B. Schiff, D-California (Chairman)

  • California’s 28th District: L.A. suburbs
  • First elected: 2008
  • Before Congress: Served in the state Senate and worked as an assistant U.S. attorney
  • 2018 election: Schiff won re-election by 57 points
  • Race rating: Solid Democratic
  • Notable: Schiff has been the frequent target of Trump’s tweets and GOP attacks on the impeachment probe, with House Republicans even attempting to censure Schiff for his handling of the probe. Schiff played an active role in the closed-door depositions, interjecting and asking additional questions of witnesses in partnership with the Democratic counsel who led the questioning.

Jim Himes, D-Connecticut

  • Connecticut’s 4th District: Southwest part of the state
  • First elected: 2008
  • Before Congress: Various positions in Greenwich town government
  • 2018 election: Himes won by 22 points
  • Race rating: Solid Democratic
  • Notable: Himes is “chair emeritus” for the New Democrat coalition, a group of more moderate, pro-business House Democrats

Terri A. Sewell, D-Alabama

  • Alabama’s 7th District: Selma and parts of Birmingham and Tuscaloosa
  • First elected: 2010
  • Before Congress: Public finance attorney
  • 2018 election: Sewell did not have an opponent in 2018
  • Race rating: Solid Democratic
  • Notable: Sewell is the first African American woman to represent Alabama in Congress. She is also a chief deputy whip.

André Carson, D-Indiana

  • Indiana’s 7th District: Includes most of Indianapolis
  • First elected: 2008 special election
  • Before Congress: Served on the Indianapolis and Marion County City-County Council
  • 2018 election: Carson won by 30 points
  • Race rating: Solid Democratic
  • Notable: Carson succeeded his grandmother in Congress, winning a special election to fill the seat after her death. He was the second Muslim member of Congress.

Jackie Speier, D-California

  • California’s 14th District: Parts of San Francisco
  • First elected: 2008
  • Before Congress: Speier served in the California Assembly and Senate and ran unsuccessfully for lieutenant governor in 2006
  • 2018 election: Speier won by 58 points
  • Race rating: Solid Democratic
  • Notable: Speier questioned of Taylor and Kent during the closed-door depositions, according to released transcripts. Before serving in state government, she worked as a congressional aide for former Rep. Leo J. Ryan, and she was shot on a fact-finding mission in 1978 to Guyana to investigate Jonestown, the home of the cult built by Jim Jones. Ryan and four others were killed in the attack. After the attack, Jones and more than 900 people in Jonestown drank a cyanide-laced drink, in what is now regarded as a mass murder.

Mike Quigley, D-Illinois

  • Illinois’ 5th District: North Side of Chicago
  • First elected: 2009 special election
  • Before Congress: Served on the Cook County Board of Commissioners
  • 2018 election: Quigley won by 53 points
  • Race rating: Solid Democratic
  • Notable: After Trump’s “covfefe” typo in a tweet, Quigley introduced the COVFEFE Act, or the Communications Over Various Feeds Electronically for Engagement Act, which would preserve a president’s tweets as part of the historical record. Quigley asked questions of Taylor and Kent during the closed-door depositions.

Eric Swalwell, D-California

  • California’s 15th District: East Bay
  • First elected: 2012
  • Before Congress: Served on Dublin City Council and worked as a county prosecutor
  • 2018 election: Swalwell won by 46 points
  • Race rating: Solid Democratic
  • Notable: Swalwell was part of the crowded presidential field, making young leadership and combating gun violence the centerpieces of his campaign. But he dropped out of the race in July. Swalwell participated in closed-door questioning of Taylor.

Joaquin Castro, D-Texas

  • Texas’ 20th District: Western San Antonio
  • First elected: 2012
  • Before Congress: Served in the Texas state House
  • 2018 election: Castro won by 62 points
  • Race rating: Solid Democratic
  • Notable: Castro is Congressional Hispanic Caucus chairman. His twin brother, Julián, is running for president and Castro is a co-chair of his brother’s campaign.

Denny Heck, D-Washington

  • Washington’s 10th District: Includes Olympia
  • First elected: 2012
  • Before Congress: Served in the Washington state House and was a former CEO and broadcaster for TVW, the state’s version of C-SPAN
  • 2018 election: Heck won by 23 points
  • Race rating: Solid Democratic
  • Notable: Heck served as recruitment chair for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee in 2016 and 2018, when Democrats flipped the House. He ran unsuccessfully for DCCC chair this year.

Peter Welch, D-Vermont

  • Vermont’s at-large district
  • First elected: 2006
  • Before Congress: Served in the state Senate
  • 2018 election: Welch won by 43 points
  • Race rating: Solid Democratic
  • Notable: Welch also serves on the Oversight and Reform Committee, which is also part of the impeachment inquiry. He is also a chief deputy whip.

Sean Patrick Maloney, D-New York

  • New York’s 18th District: Hudson Valley
  • First elected: 2012
  • Before Congress: Aide to former New York Governors Eliot Spitzer and David Patterson
  • 2018 election: Maloney won re-election by 11 points
  • Race rating: Solid Democratic
  • Notable: Maloney worked as former President Bill Clinton’s staff secretary. He also ran unsuccessfully for New York Attorney General in 2006 and 2018.

Val B. Demings, D-Florida

  • Florida’s 10th District: Includes part of Orlando
  • First elected: 2016
  • Before Congress: Served as Orlando’s police chief
  • 2018 election: Demings did not face an opponent in 2018
  • Race rating: Solid Democratic
  • Notable: Demings supported opening an impeachment inquiry following the release of former special counsel Robert Mueller’s report.

Raja Krishnamoorthi, D-Illinois

  • Illinois’ 8th District: Northwestern Chicago suburbs
  • First elected: 2016
  • Before Congress: President of a tech company and deputy state treasurer
  • 2018 election: Krishnamoorthi won by 32 points
  • Race rating: Solid Democratic
  • Notable: Krishnamoorthi is a member of both the Intelligence and Oversight committees and said the impeachment probe is a “sad moment” for the country but has pledged a diligent and transparent investigation.

The Republicans

Devin Nunes, R-California (Ranking Member)

  • California’s 22nd District: Central Valley
  • First elected: 2002
  • Before Congress: Served on the College of the Sequoias Board of Trustees ; California state director for the Agriculture Department’s rural development program
  • 2018 election: Nunes won by 5 points
  • Race rating: Solid Republican
  • Notable: As chairman of the Intelligence Committee in the last Congress, Nunes became known as a staunch Trump defender. He removed himself from overseeing two of the committee’s investigations, one investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election and the other probing whether intelligence community collected information about the Trump campaign. The House Ethics Committee cleared Nunes in Dec. 2017 of allegations that he disclosed classified information.

K. Michael Conaway, R-Texas

  • Texas’ 11 District: Includes Midland and Odessa
  • First elected: 2004, retiring from the House
  • Before Congress: Served on the Texas State Board of Public Accountancy
  • 2018 election: Conaway won by 62 points
  • Race rating: Solid Republican
  • Notable: Conaway temporarily took over the Russia investigation during the last Congress after Nunes removed himself.

Michael R. Turner, R-Ohio

  • Ohio’s 10th District: Dayton 
  • First elected: 2002
  • Before Congress: Mayor of Dayton, lawyer
  • 2018 election: Turner won by 14 points
  • Race rating: Solid Republican
  • Notable: Over the summer, Turner broke from his party and jeopardized his rating from the National Rifle Association to announce his support for ending sales of assault weapons to civilians, limiting the size of ammunition magazines and enacting red-flag laws to bar firearms from any individual considered an imminent threat to themselves or others. Turner said in a recent Intelligence Committee hearing that Trump’s phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy was “not OK.”

Brad Wenstrup, R-Ohio

  • Ohio's 2nd District: Eastern Cincinnati and suburbs
  • First elected: 2012
  • Before Congress: Surgeon
  • 2018 election: Wenstrup won by 16 points
  • Race rating: Solid Republican
  • Notable: Wenstrup was on the scene in 2017 when a gunman attacked Republicans practicing for a charity baseball game and treated GOP Whip Steve Scalise’s wounds on the field before paramedics arrived.

Chris Stewart, R-Utah

  • Utah’s 2nd District: Most of Salt Lake City
  • First elected: 2012
  • Before Congress: Author and management consultant
  • 2018 election: Stewart won by 17 points
  • Race rating: Solid Republican
  • Notable: Stewart’s office confirmed to the Salt Lake Tribune that he only attended depositions conducted while Congress was in session and that he missed testimony from William Taylor, Marie Yovonovich, Kurt Volker, Fiona Hill and George Kent.

Jim Jordan, R-Ohio

  • Ohio’s 4th District: Northwest part of the state, includes Elyria and Lima
  • First elected: 2006
  • Before Congress: College wrestling coach
  • 2018 election: Jordan won by a 30 point margin
  • Race rating: Solid Republican
  • Notable: A leading voice in defense of Trump as ranking member on the Oversight Committee, Jordan is temporarily assigned to the Intelligence Committee specifically for the impeachment inquiry. He was an active questioner of witnesses in the closed door depositions. 

Elise Stefanik, R-New York

  • New York’s 21st District: Northern part of the state, including Watertown and Plattsburgh
  • First elected: 2014
  • Before Congress: Worked as 2012 campaign aide to Mitt Romney and ran communications for a conservative think tank.
  • 2018 election: Stefanik won by 14 points
  • Race rating: Solid Republican
  • Notable: Stefanik questioned witnesses in the closed-door depositions, including Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman. When Stefanik was elected in 2014, she was the youngest woman ever elected to the House. Stefanik is leading efforts to recruit and elect more Republican women to Congress.

Will Hurd, R-Texas

  • Texas’ 23rd District: Stretches from El Paso to San Antonio
  • First elected: 2014, retiring from the House
  • Before Congress: Served as a CIA officer in Pakistan and Afghanistan
  • 2018 election: Hurd won by less than half a point
  • Race rating: Lean Democratic
  • Notable: Hurd has said he believes the identity of the whistleblower should be protected, but would like more information about Schiff’s contact with the whistleblower before the impeachment inquiry began.

John Ratcliffe, R-Texas

  • Texas' 4th District: Includes Sherman, Paris and Texarkana
  • First elected: 2014
  • Before Congress: Terrorism prosecutor and U.S. attorney
  • 2018 election: Ratcliffe won by 53 points
  • Race rating: Solid Republican
  • Notable: Ratcliffe participated in questioning Taylor in the closed door deposition. He was under consideration for Director of National Intelligence for the Trump administration, but he withdrew his name amid questions about whether he was qualified for the job.

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