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Rep. Joaquin Castro On Impeachment Inquiry Next Steps

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Now we'd like to ask where this impeachment inquiry goes next. We're going to put that question to Joaquin Castro. He's a member of the House Intelligence Committee and a Democrat from Texas.

Congressman Castro, welcome to the program. Thanks for joining us once again.

JOAQUIN CASTRO: Yeah. Thanks for having me.

MARTIN: So your committee heard from a number of witnesses over the course of five hearings. You know, as briefly as you can, over the course of those many hours, what do you think the public hearings ultimately revealed?

CASTRO: Well, I think they affirmed what was - what Americans read on that transcript - the phone call between President Trump and the president of Ukraine - which is that the president tried to trade a political favor for U.S. government resources. And I think the case was made stronger this week because of their testimony.

MARTIN: Will your committee call any other witnesses to testify? I mean, are there other people that you want to hear from?

CASTRO: There's definitely other people that we want to hear from. There are people that we subpoenaed who refused to cooperate and show up. So we'd like to hear from people like John Bolton, Rick Perry, Mick Mulvaney, Rudy Giuliani. We don't know whether any of those people will agree to show up, and we're not inclined to go to court and fight for a year over subpoenas. But if some of those folks are willing to come in in the next - you know, shortly in the next few weeks, then certainly, we'd like to hear their testimony.

MARTIN: So there's a bit of news I wanted to run by you. This morning, CNN reported that Lev Parnas, one of Rudy Giuliani's associates, who was recently indicted on federal campaign finance charges, connected a Ukrainian official directly with Devin Nunes, the ranking Republican on your committee, the intelligence committee. A lawyer for Parnas told CNN, quote, "Mr. Parnas learned from former Ukrainian Prosecutor General Victor Shokin that Nunes had met with Shokin in Vienna last December." That's a quote.

Parnas also says he put Nunes in touch with Ukrainians who could help dig up dirt on the Bidens, and Nunes has disputed this report as demonstrably false. But Mr. Parnas says he would be willing to testify. Do you think the committee should subpoena him?

CASTRO: I do think we should hear from him. And we've not had a chance as a whole committee to discuss it, so I can't speak for the entire committee, obviously. But just from my perspective, I think it would be valuable to hear from him because we want to know just how far this work extended. How many people were doing the president's dirty work here?

MARTIN: So with no more public hearings on the calendar, the next step - if there are no more public hearings, the next step would likely be the House Judiciary Committee drawing up articles of impeachment. Do you have a sense of what you think should be included in those articles?

CASTRO: You know, ultimately, that'll be the decision of the judiciary committee and its chairman, Jerry Nadler. But I suspect that you'll see some version of extortion and/or bribery and perhaps versions of obstruction of justice or obstruction of Congress among others.

MARTIN: So before we let you go, Congressman, do you think that this was a useful process? I mean, I'm not - our purpose here isn't to sort of be continually be sort of testing the temperature here. I mean, that's somebody else's task. But it does seem as though both sides are very dug in. I mean, it seems as though the Democrats and the Republicans had very different views of the proceedings. They had very different views of what's important. They had very different views of what the responsibilities of these officials should be.

I mean, the ranking member on the Republican side said at one point that they - he felt that their job was to carry out the policy directives of the president and they - obviously and the Democrats along with them - seemed to have a very different view of what their core responsibilities are as public servants. Do you feel that anything was gained by this, given that the two sides seem to continue to maintain these very different views of their role?

CASTRO: The impeachment inquiry has been essential and vital to our democracy. And really, we owe it to the American people because they needed to hear the evidence for themselves from the witnesses directly, and that's something that's owed to the American people. I think it's part of due process to everyone involved also who may be subject of - the subject of an allegation. So yeah, I think it was very valuable, separate and apart from whatever hyper-partisanship may exist in Congress.

MARTIN: That was Joaquin Castro. He is a member of the House Intelligence Committee, a Democrat from Texas.

Congressman Castro, thanks so much for talking to us once again.

CASTRO: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.