“They are searching for every haystack they can possibly find in hopes that there’s a needle somewhere that they can bring forward and say, ‘A-ha, we have something to impeach him,'” says Rep. Jody Hice, R-Ga. “And the American people are seeing it for what it is.” Read the lightly edited transcript of the interview, posted below, or listen on this bonus episode of the podcast:

Rachel del Guidice: We’re joined today on The Daily Signal Podcast by Congressman Jody Hice, who represents Georgia’s 10th Congressional District. Congressman Hice, thank you so much for being with us today.

Rep. Jody Hice: Always great to be with you. It’s an honor. Appreciate you having me.

Del Guidice: Well, we love having you. So, last week, House Democrats finished holding their first impeachment hearings on impeaching the president. We heard from Bill Taylor, he’s the acting U.S. ambassador to Ukraine; George Kent, the deputy assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs; and Marie Yovanovitch, the former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine.

So, looking at last week’s hearing, what all did you see from those hearings, and has any kind of information or answers been gleaned? What are your takeaways?

Hice: Yeah, I mean, [there’s] two things really that stand out to me from last week. No. 1, again, it’s all hearsay. No one had direct communication with the president. And that’s really what this whole thing is being built on.

It’s a trial in search of a crime, and there’s no evidence to substantiate any of it at this point. And that’s totally what we had last week. And I thought one of the highlights from last week was when [Rep. John Ratcliffe, R-Texas] specifically asked the witnesses, “Why are we here? What is the impeachable offense?” And none of them had an answer.

There’s absolute stunned silence. And that just reiterated the reality that the majority, the Democrats, are moving the goal post on even what the impeachable offense is. And of course, now it’s gone from “quid pro quo” to extortion to bribery.

And I mean, they’re bouncing all over the place themselves, trying to convince the American people of a crime that didn’t happen. And so they’re trying to fabricate a crime. And that was really what came out from last week to me.

Del Guidice: So, you’ve criticized this impeachment process as a sham. Can you talk a little bit about that and why you see it as a sham?

Hice: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, something as important as an impeachment inquiry impacts our entire nation. It’s something that, if we’re going to go down this path, then it needs to be done honestly. It needs to be done openly. It needs to be done with transparency, and with an authentic desire to find the truth.

That has not been the case in this sham. And that’s exactly what it is. For two months, we were in the basement of the Capitol with no transparency. No even attempt seriously to find the the truth.

[House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif.] only allowed individuals to come testify who he thought would have damaging testimony toward the president. The president was not able to defend himself.

We were not able to call forth any of our witnesses as the minority party. It was all a one-sided show. We were limited. Members of Congress were not permitted to participate unless you were on certain committees, and even then it was very difficult to get transcripts, and yet none of it was classified information.

What it ended up being is, really, two months of an audition for Schiff to determine who he thought would be the best witnesses to go public. Which is what he’s now trying to do. But again, it is an unfair process of not genuinely seeking the truth.

It’s all the left Democrats, who hate the president, who want to turn the 2016 election around, and they are trying to do everything they can to discredit and disenfranchise the voters of 2016.

Del Guidice: So, on Tuesday, House Democrats started the second week of open impeachment hearings. And so far we’ve heard from Lt. Col. [Alexander] Vindman. He’s the top Ukraine specialist at the National Security Council. He testified, as well as Jennifer Williams, who’s a foreign service aide in Vice President [Mike] Pence’s office who listened to a call between Trump and the Ukraine’s president.

What did you think of both of their testimonies, of Vindman’s testimony and Williams’ testimony?

Hice: Still, it’s nothing new. It’s more of the same old, same old. … Look, in this whole thing, there’s only one person who matters, and that is the president of the United States.

What did he say? And we have that transcript, that transcript is readily available for anyone and everyone to read. And it says what it says. And the president of Ukraine, President [Volodymyr] Zelenskyy, took it just the way the president, President Trump, said it was.

There was no quid pro quo, there was no conditions to the aid. Ukraine was not even aware that any aid was being withheld. And so how do you formulate an impeachable offense that didn’t happen?

And so what we have are individuals giving testimony of their opinion. We have people giving testimony who don’t like the foreign policy of the president. What is the president’s job, to submit foreign policy? And if they don’t like it, that’s their prerogative. But it certainly is not an impeachable offense if they don’t like the president’s foreign policy.

So it’s more of the same old argument that the Democrats continue to bring forth, … charges with absolutely zero evidence to substantiate the charge.

Del Guidice: So, you mentioned the fact of zero evidence. … Looking ahead to hearings later this week, we’re hearing a lot of the same old, same old, as you mentioned, and nothing impeachable has been raised so far. So what do you foresee as happening if none of that evidence actually surfaces?

Hice: Well, this thing is collapsing day by day, literally moment by moment, as they continue to proceed forward with it, because there is no evidence there. And the American people, as this is becoming public, as people are watching it, they’re getting fatigued, quite frankly, from a hearing that has nothing to support the so-called impeachable offenses, which even the Democrats themselves can’t even define what that offense might be. And so, the American people are seeing firsthand that this is a hoax.

It is a continuation of a witch hunt that began three years ago, when the president was inaugurated. Within days after his inauguration, there were [some] saying already that they were going to impeach him. And he hadn’t even had time to get in the office and get started. Yet, this has been an undertaking of the Democratic Party for three years.

They are searching for every haystack they can possibly find in hopes that there’s a needle somewhere that they can bring forward and say, “Aha, we have something to impeach him.” And the American people are seeing it for what it is.

Del Guidice: So, you sit on the [House Oversight and Reform Committee], and you attended several of the closed-door depositions that happened. I’m curious if there’s anything you can share from what you observed. And as a second point to that, have Democrats even been following proper procedure when it comes to the impeachment process?

Hice: They’ve been making the rules up and the procedure up as they go. And that’s one of the frustrating things with us. The goal post has been moving all along the way. And so, I cannot get into specifics, because we are strictly forbidden from speaking about what happened in those depositions.

But I can say from a general perspective that it has been the most unfair treatment that I’ve ever seen.

I’m shocked that this type of trial, which is really what it is, is taking place in the United States, where we have only one side permitted to speak, only one side permitted to call forth witnesses, and the other side … during those depositions was not able to do anything.

The president unable to defend himself, and we [being] unable to bring forth witnesses from our side of the equation, has been the most unfair thing I’ve ever seen in my life. And I just hope that as this becomes more public, that the American people will recognize that and will reject this attempt by the Democrats to destroy and harm the president.

Del Guidice: So, looking ahead to the rest of the hearings this week, I believe Fiona Hill is scheduled to testify, she was the top Russia specialist at the National Security Council, as well as David Holmes, who’s a State Department official. Do you have any forecasts of what you expect to see, or just more of the same?

Hice: Yeah, expect more of the same. It would be kind of foolish for me to try to speculate what any of them are going to say or testify. So I won’t try to go down that hypothetical route, but, again, would say that the only conversation that matters is the conversation that President Trump had with President Zelenskyy. And that conversation we have. And in that conversation is absolutely nothing impeachable.

There was nothing of demands. There were no preconditions put upon the funding. In fact, this president has funded the Ukraine with lethal weapons to defend themselves against Russia. Something that President [Barack] Obama never did.

And … just a couple of months ago, the Democrats were accusing President Trump of colluding with Russia. And yet President Trump is the one who is providing aid, lethal aid, to Ukraine to defend themselves against Russia.

And so, that is the conversation that matters. The one that the president had with President Zelenskyy, and everything else is just opinion and presumption, made-up opinions, as to what the president really meant. When what he said is right there in clear view. And what he said is exactly the way President Zelenskyy interpreted it.

Del Guidice: President Trump has also said he’s open to contributing his own testimony to Democrats’ impeachment hearings. Do you think he should testify? What is your perspective on that?

Hice: Well, my perspective is he already has. He was not forced to provide the transcript and he did. He voluntarily put it out there. This past week, [he] came out with the second conversation he had with President Zelenskyy. Again, he was not compelled to do so. He is being transparent and open with the conversation that he had. And you know, what he decides to do beyond that is a decision I’m sure that he and other advisers around him will make.

But in my opinion, the president has already exhibited tremendous transparency and a willingness to cooperate. And providing the transcript itself is evidence enough of that.

Del Guidice: One of your colleagues in the House, Congressman Jim Jordan, he had tweeted something early this week that I feel like laid out the situation really well. And he had said that “in the 55 days that aid to Ukraine was delayed, President Zelenskyy had five calls and meetings with high-ranking American officials. And in every one of those meetings, there was never a discussion of linking aid to investigating the Bidens.”

If this is true, and we’ve seen the transcripts, you’ve been talking about that, why isn’t this being discussed in these hearings?

Hice: You know, you’d have to ask the Democrats that. I think the Republican side has done a great job bringing up those facts in this whole thing. Not only were there no preconditions in the phone call, but as you just mentioned, in the five meetings that took place afterward, there was no mention of any conditions in order for aid to come forward.

And so again, this is all nothing but individuals’ opinions, basically saying what we know, the funds went, but what the president really meant was to hold up those funds until we had the investigation on the Bidens or until we had whatever that they claim.

But the fact is, none of that holds up to what actually happened in those meetings that took place following the phone call. Again, our factual evidence that there was no intent for preconditions in the funds that were going to Ukraine.

Del Guidice: So, impeachment definitely has overtaken all of Washington right now and especially Congress in the House as they’re holding these hearings. Is there anything Congress should be doing other than holding these impeachment hearings?

Hice: Well, the first thing we should do is close the door on these impeachment hearings. It’s an absolute hoax in every way.

But yeah, I mean, the Democrats have been so focused on destroying the president and proceeding with this impeachment inquiry that they have accomplished absolutely nothing since they have been the majority here in the House. And there are multiple issues that need to be addressed.

I mean, we haven’t even funded the government, and now that is hanging over our head. We haven’t funded the military. We have drug pricing that needs to be addressed. We have trade deals, the USMCA, that needs to be addressed.

There are multiple issues that are extremely important to the well-being of our country and to every one of our constituents, be it Republican or Democrat. But they have been so focused on one single item, and that is to impeach the president, that they have shown their absolute inability to legislate and do what the American people sent us here to do.

Del Guidice: Final question: What do your constituents in Georgia think about all these impeachment hearings?

Hice: You know, we’ve got 750,000, 800,000, and there are different individuals, different parties that are represented, but overwhelmingly, the people in the 10th District of Georgia are fed up with this impeachment inquiry. They see it for what it is. They want it to come to a stop.

They see the actions of this president and the policies of this president are working in our economy. They’re working in reestablishing the strength of our military. They’re working across the board, impacting individual lives.

They appreciate this president stands for life. He stands for religious liberties. And they want us to continue supporting this president, and they want this impeachment inquiry to come to an end.

I believe, at the end of the day, this is going to prove to be an absolute disaster for the Democrats, and in my opinion, well, it should be.

Del Guidice: Congressman Hice, thank you so much for joining us today on The Daily Signal Podcast.

Hice: Always an honor to be with you. Thank you so much.