November 13, 2019 / 11:51 AM / a month ago

Factbox: Public impeachment hearings shine light on secretive House Intelligence committee

(Reuters) - The start of public impeachment hearings into President Donald Trump will shine a spotlight as never before on 22 members of the U.S. House of Representatives Intelligence Committee, a panel that typically operates behind closed doors.

Here are some of the notable figures among the 13 Democrats and nine Republicans on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.

CHAIRMAN ADAM SCHIFF

The 59-year-old Los Angeles-area Democrat has become the public face of the impeachment inquiry, with frequent appearances on television. Long a favourite target for Trump and his most ardent supporters because of his criticism of the president, Schiff is a former federal prosecutor and is a political ally of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

The 10-term Democrat’s profile rose sharply during the first two years of Trump’s presidency as a sharp-spoken but seldom-ruffled defender of the investigation into Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election. More recently, Trump has taken to Twitter to label Schiff as “corrupt” and “a lowlife,” and nicknamed him “Shifty.”

RANKING MEMBER DEVIN NUNES

While chairman of the intelligence committee in 2017, Devin Nunes - now ranking Republican - faced an ethics investigation and recused himself from the panel’s probe of Russian interference in the 2016 election after a mysterious visit to the White House and a news conference at which he claimed he had documents proving that Democratic President Barack Obama’s administration had surveilled Trump’s campaign.

Nunes, 46, has dismissed the impeachment probe as a sham. Transcripts show that he asked few questions at the closed-door depositions that have already taken place and skipped at least one.

JIM JORDAN

House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy on Friday announced that Jim Jordan, the party’s top member on the House Oversight Committee, would join the intelligence panel, presumably to play a major part in the public hearings.

The newest member of the Intelligence Committee has been the most visible House Republican during the impeachment probe. Jordan, 55, speaks to reporters frequently, and the Oversight panel’s chief Republican investigator, Steve Castor, has played a major role in the closed-door interviews, according to transcripts.

A former assistant college wrestling coach and past leader of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, Jordan is known for eschewing a suit jacket as he walks the Capitol hallways or interrogates witnesses during committee hearings.

Jordan himself has faced controversy, accused by former wrestlers he coached at Ohio State University who said he was told about sexual abuse by a team doctor but failed to intervene to stop it. The doctor committed suicide in 2005. Jordan denies wrongdoing.

FILE PHOTO: U.S. House of Representatives Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA) speaks to reporters during a break in a closed-door deposition as part of the impeachment inquiry into U.S. President Donald Trump led by the House Intelligence, House Foreign Affairs and House Oversight and Reform Committees on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., November 6, 2019. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko

JIM HIMES

The former chairman of the centrist New Democrat Coalition, the 53-year-old Himes is a moderate who was considered a potential intelligence committee chairman before Schiff was selected to lead the panel after Democrats won the House majority last year.

As the committee’s No. 2 Democrat, the former Rhodes scholar has become one of the major Democratic faces of the inquiry, making frequent television appearances discussing impeachment.

Reporting by Patricia Zengerle; editing by Jonathan Oatis

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