(*This story has been updated to include comment from the office of U.S. Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick, R-1st District)
WASHINGTON — Most of the Pennsylvania lawmakers who had access to the closed-door impeachment inquiry depositions in the U.S. House appear to have skipped the vast majority of them.
An analysis of transcripts from the 17 closed-door depositions that have been released by House lawmakers shows that five of the six Pennsylvania lawmakers with access to the depositions missed most of them. Two additional transcripts have not yet been released.
U.S. Rep. Scott Perry, R-10th District, who has been a vocal critic of the impeachment proceedings, is the lone exception. He was listed as present at 14 of the depositions for which transcripts have been released; he attended another but arrived after attendance was taken, according to his office.
Lawmakers may have entered some of the depositions after the attendance was logged, in which case their presence would not necessarily have been noted in the transcripts.
Perry, a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee, has made the depositions a priority, “since trying to unseat ANY sitting President of the United States is breathtakingly important to the Nation,” his spokeswoman Brandy Brown said in an email.
“As a Member of a Committee of Jurisdiction, and a sitting Member of the U.S. House, he has a Constitutional obligation to attend these hearings on behalf of his constituency,” Brown added.
The other five Pennsylvanians who sit on either the relevant committees don’t appear to have gone to nearly as many of the depositions.
Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick, R-1st District, another member of the Foreign Affairs Committee, was listed as present on two of the transcripts.
*In a statement, Fitzpatrick’s office said the Bucks County Republican has “been reviewing 100% of the transcripts and has prioritized his attendance time to his Opioid Task Force, his PFAS Task Force, and his Pediatric Cancer Initiative, all of which are at a time-sensitive and critical stage right now.”
U.S. Reps. Guy Reschenthaler, R-14th District, and Fred Keller, R-12th District, — who sit on the Foreign Affairs and Oversight and Reform Committees, respectively— each attended only one of the 17 depositions, according to the transcripts. Their offices did not respond to requests for comment about their attendance.
Reschenthaler complained on Fox News earlier this month about the closed-door proceedings. “The vast majority of Congress has been kept in the dark,” he said. “I’m very fortunate to be on the House Foreign Affairs Committee and I’ve been in some of these depositions.”
Keller penned an op-ed Tuesday calling the impeachment a “sham” and accusing Democrats of leveling “baseless political attacks” against the president.
Two Pennsylvania Democrats have also had access to the closed-door depositions: U.S. Reps. Chrissy Houlahan, D-6th District, and Susan Wild, D-7th District, who both sit on the Foreign Affairs Committee.
Houlahan was listed as present on one of the 17 transcripts; her office said she attended others, as well.
“Rep. Houlahan has attended several of the depositions and has spent time reviewing the testimony of the witnesses in both the depositions and public hearings,” her spokesperson said in a statement. “She is encouraging those in her community and across the country to do the same and read through the information as the committees continue their work.”
Wild was not listed as present at any of the 17 depositions, but she “has stopped in on depositions when she’s had the time to do so, which has not been that frequently,” her office said in a statement. She has been focused on the work being done in the Education and Labor Committee, her spokesperson added.
Reschenthaler and Democratic Reps. Madeleine Dean, D-4th District, and Mary Gay Scanlon, D-5th District, are the three Pennsylvania members of the Judiciary Committee, which is expected to draft articles of impeachment against Trump. That committee announced Tuesday that it has scheduled its first impeachment hearing for Dec. 4.
Jim Small, the editor of the Arizona Mirror, a Capital-Star sister site, contributed to this report.