- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Rep. Doug Collins of Georgia, the top Republican on the House Judiciary Committee, is set to take the reins of the GOP opposition as the House impeachment inquiry moves into the next phase and inches closer to articles of impeachment against President Trump.

A lawyer and former Baptist pastor, Mr. Collins is known for his rapid-fire monologues and colorful expressions that infuse bursts of energy into what will be a lengthy debate on the legal justifications for impeaching a president.

“We have a saying down South when something is going to be important, my mom would tell me, ‘Go on, put your Sunday best on, and we are going to go to town,’ ” the Georgia Republican said Tuesday, bracing for the Democrats’ next move for impeachment.


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“Well, a few months ago the Democrats put on their ‘Sunday best’ and said we are going to have rules for impeachment and it is going to take care of everything, and we are going to take care of the president. The president will have a chance to look at witnesses and be a part of the process and look at witnesses and question. … They failed miserably in trying to provide any modicum of fairness,” he said.

He made the remarks as the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence cast a party-line vote to approve its report backing impeachment, sending the 300-page document to the Judiciary Committee and launching the next phase of the process.



Mr. Collins will take over from Rep. Devin Nunes of California, the ranking Republican on the intelligence committee who provided a stern and measured beat to the GOP resistance when that committee handled the first leg of the impeachment effort.

“Stylistically, he’s obviously very different from Devin Nunes,” Rep. Andy Biggs, Arizona Republican, told The Washington Times. “Devin’s a little bit more stoic — Doug is more animated. Both are vigorous and aggressive defenders of truth here.”

Mr. Collins is known as a front-line Trump defender who previously battled Democrats’ probe of alleged Russia collusion and obstruction of special counsel Robert S. Mueller’s probe. He was at the forefront of GOP objections to the process by which Democrats subpoenaed the administration for documents and testimonies, calling it an overreach of congressional oversight.

The Judiciary Committee, which is charged with writing articles of impeachment, takes up the inquiry Wednesday with a public hearing where legal scholars will opine on whether Mr. Trump’s actions warrant removal from office.

Democrats have called three legal scholars that have been critical of President Trump — Noah Feldman, Pamela Karlan and Michael Gerhardt — while Republicans have Jonathan Turley, who has repeatedly condemned the impeachment proceeding.

“Tomorrow provides nothing except a dreary-eyed, drowsy proposal for this country to watch as the impeachment process slowly drags on with no direction, no focus because they are having one big problem,” Mr. Collins said. “And the big problem is the president did nothing wrong.”

Mr. Collins spent six years in the Georgia House of Representatives before winning a seat in Congress. He represents a rural district that includes his hometown of Gainesville, which has been dubbed “Poultry Capital of the World” because of its numerous poultry processing plants.

He has been married to Lisa Collins since 1988. They have three children — daughter Jordan, and sons Copelan and Cameron.

A four-term congressman, Mr. Collins replaced retiring Rep. Bob Goodlatte of Virginia this year as the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee as the GOP settled into the minority.

Throughout the impeachment inquiry, Mr. Collins has been mostly sidelined as his panel was moved out of the way of investigating the allegations that Mr. Trump attempted to pressure Ukraine into investigating former Vice President Joseph R. Biden and his son Hunter, as well as Ukrainian interference in the 2016 election.

The Ukraine allegations are the center of the impeachment inquiry, but there are rumblings on Capitol Hill about Judiciary looping in other investigations the Democrats have been pursuing against Mr. Trump as they draft articles of impeachment.

In the public hearings and closed-door investigations held by the intelligence panel, Republicans and Democrats clashed over both the process of the inquiry and the substance of the allegations.

The clashes often featured Mr. Nunes versus Rep. Adam B. Schiff, California Democrat and intelligence chairman.

On the Judiciary panel, Mr. Collins will face off against Chairman Jerrold L. Nadler, New York Democrat. But in the new setting, a sharper focus is expected on legal issues.

Rep. Ben Cline, a Virginia Republican on Judiciary, said his party is ready and have a powerful leader in Mr. Collins.

“He unites our side of the committee as we shine a spotlight on all the shortcomings of Chairman Nadler’s impeachment circus,” Mr. Cline said.

Before the first hearing in Judiciary even began, Mr. Collins launched the Republicans’ aggressive defense of Mr. Trump.

He made the rounds on TV news shows, delivering a preview of the GOP’s arguments, staunchly defending the president’s innocence and slamming the Democrats’ process as rigged and partisan.

“It’s like me telling y’all ‘I want you to go into the kitchen. I want you to bake me something,’” he said of the impeachment process on Fox News. “And I say ‘It doesn’t matter, just go bake me something.’ ‘Well, what do you want?’ ‘I don’t know what I want.’ That is how bad this is.”

He has led the push for testimony by Mr. Schiff, whom Republicans think helped orchestrate the whistleblower complaint that set off the impeachment probe. But Democrats are unlikely to allow Mr. Schiff to be put on the stand.

Republicans on Monday preempted the Democrats’ impeachment report with a rebuttal report that rejected all allegations against the president and doubling down on criticism of the process.

Mr. Collins‘ role in those efforts earned him praise from Mr. Trump.

“Great job by Rep. Doug Collins of Georgia over the weekend in representing the Republican Party, and myself, against the impeachment hoax!” he tweeted.

As he claims the national spotlight, Mr. Collins has eyed a run for the Senate seat being vacated by Sen. Johnny Isakson, who is retiring at the end of the year due to failing health.

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp is expected to tap Atlanta businesswoman Kelly Loeffler to replace Mr. Isakson, but she would have to defend the seat in a special election to finish the remaining two years of Mr. Isakson’s term.

Mr. Collins hasn’t closed the door on a potential primary for the Senate seat.

“We’ll have to see where the governor goes with his pick, and then we’ll have a decision to make after that,” he said. “But right now, my full focus and attention is on impeachment.”

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