Republican Group to Air Ad on 'Fox & Friends' Urging GOP to Defend Constitution, Not Trump Ahead of Public Impeachment Hearings

Republicans for the Rule of Law (RRL), a conservative group whose stated purpose is "defending the institutions of our republic," will run an advertisement on Fox News this week to urge House GOP members to defend the Constitution, not President Donald Trump ahead of the public impeachment hearings.

The video, which demonstrates how House Republicans responded to former President Richard Nixon's abuse of power during the Watergate scandal, will run as a commercial on Wednesday morning on Fox & Friends. RRL will also be promoting the clip digitally in the Congressional Districts of the GOP representatives on the House Intelligence Committee.

It comes as House Democrats take their formal impeachment inquiry against Trump public with three witnesses set to testify this week: State Department official George Kent and top U.S. Ukraine diplomat Bill Taylor are both set to be testifying on Wednesday, while former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch will appear on Friday.

"As the House of Representatives begins public impeachment hearings, every member from both parties should pay special attention to the oath they swore," RRL spokesperson and legal adviser Chris Truax said in a statement emailed to Newsweek. "Our leaders swear to protect the Constitution—not any political party or any one person."

The nearly minute-long clip opens with a voiceover to historical clips of the 1972 Watergate scandal: "When Nixon abused the power of the presidency there were those who defended the president, others defended the Constitution."

"I'm a Republican, it isn't easy for me to align myself against the president," then-GOP congressman Lawrence Hogan, a member of the House Judiciary Committee, said in the clip, "but it's impossible for me to condone or ignore the long train of abuses to which he has subjected the presidency and the people of this country."

Commenting on the video, Truax noted that the last time a Republican president faced impeachment, "some House Republicans remembered that oath." "They stood bravely to defend the Constitution and the American tradition of the Rule of Law," he added. "They're remembered for their courage and integrity. History has not been kind to their colleagues who buried their heads in the sand and refused to acknowledge the facts. Republicans should study the lessons of Watergate very closely."

Donald Trump
President Donald Trump speaks during the Veterans Day Parade opening ceremony on November 11, 2019 in New York City. Noam Galai/Getty

RRL was first established last March when reports began surfacing of Trump's alleged intentions to dismiss then-special counsel Robert Mueller who conducted the Russia probe. His 448-page redacted report, released by Attorney General William Barr in April, showed that the president had indeed tried to discharge Mueller in June 2017, but failed when former White House counsel Don McGahn refused and said he would rather resign.

In over 50 Fox News advertisements since then, RRL has encouraged "speaking up from Republicans" over Trump-related alleged abuses of power. The group told Newsweek in May that it prefers to run their videos on the network because of its wide-ranging viewer demographic and reach. Last year, Fox News attracted over double the adult viewers aged 35 and above that CNN drew, according to Nielsen Media Research. Roughly 26 percent of the network's audience are Democrats, 44 percent identify as Republicans and 30 percent undecided.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced a formal impeachment inquiry against Trump in late September after the emergence of a formal whistleblower's complaint, which accused the president of attempting to convince Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to investigate the family of former Vice President Joe Biden during a July phone call. A partial summary of their conversation, released by the White House, proved Trump did ask his foreign counterpart to probe the leading 2020 Democratic presidential candidate.

"When you are investigating a president and there's a possibility of impeachment, it's probably the most solemn act that you can engage in in Congress," Truax told Newsweek by phone on Tuesday afternoon. "It's a very serious thing. It should not be a political calculation, it should be something that's simply for the good of the country. We're trying to remind everyone in Congress, especially the Republicans that we should approach this matter with gravitas."

The witnesses this week "have a very solid story to tell and no one can judge that until we've had the public hearings and that's the attitude we need to approach this week, with a very open mind. Looking at the facts and evidence," he added. "These are very credible public servants with a dedication to this country. Many of them have put in decades of service and they need to be listened to with the proper respect."