School closings & delays

House passes impeachment inquiry resolution

U.S. President Donald Trump returns to the White House after visiting Walter Reed National Military Medical Center October 04, 2019 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Democrats rammed a package of ground rules for their impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump through a sharply divided House Thursday, the chamber’s first formal vote in a fight that could stretch into the 2020 election year.

The vote was 232-196, with all Republicans against the resolution and two Democratic defectors joining them.

The vote laid down the rules as lawmakers transition from weeks of closed-door interviews with witnesses to public hearings and ultimately to possible votes on whether to recommend Trump’s removal from office.

The action also took on more than technical meaning, with each party aware that the impeachment effort looms as a defining issue for next year’s presidential and congressional campaigns.

Democrats spoke of lawmakers’ duty to defend the Constitution, while Republicans cast the process as a skewed attempt to railroad a president whom Democrats have detested since before he took office.

“What is at stake in all this is nothing less than our democracy,” said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. Underscoring her point, she addressed the House with a poster of the American flag beside her and began her remarks by reading the opening lines of the preamble to the Constitution.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., said Trump had done nothing impeachable and accused Democrats of trying to remove him “because they are scared they cannot defeat him at the ballot box.” Noting that elections are just a year away, he added, “Why do you not trust the people?”

No. 3 House GOP leader Steve Scalise, R-La., accused Democrats of imposing “Soviet-style rules,” speaking in front of a bright red poster depicting the Kremlin.

The investigation is focused on Trump’s efforts to push Ukraine to investigate his Democratic political opponents by withholding military aid and an Oval Office meeting craved by the country’s new president.

Democrats said the procedures — which give them the ability to curb the president’s lawyers from calling witnesses — are similar to rules used during the impeachment proceedings of Presidents Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton. Republicans complained they were skewed against Trump.

It is likely to take weeks or more before the House decides whether to vote on actually impeaching Trump. If the House does vote for impeachment, the Senate would hold a trial to decide whether to remove the president from office.

Both parties’ leaders were rounding up votes as Thursday’s roll call approached, with each side eager to come as close to unanimity as possible.

Republicans said a solid GOP “no” vote would signal to the Senate that the Democratic push is a partisan crusade against a president they have never liked.

Rep. Bill Huizenga, R-Zeeland, said the inquiry has undermined the principle of due process.

“Nancy Pelosi’s closed-door impeachment inquiry has poisoned the well of impartiality, undermined the bedrock principle of due process, and eroded any hope of transparency in the Democrat-controlled U.S. House of Representatives,” Huizenga said in a statement. “Adding insult to injury, this resolution allows this partisan process to continue by giving Democrats, specifically Adam Schiff, the ability to deny Republican access to potential witnesses. Today’s vote doesn’t erase the damage Democrats have done, it merely attempts to paper over their brazen disregard for impartiality while creating yet another double standard.”

Democrats were also hoping to demonstrate solidarity from their most liberal elements to their most moderate members. They argued that GOP cohesion against the measure would show that Republicans are blindly defending Trump, whatever facts emerge.

“It will show the other party has become the party of Trump. It’s really not the Republican Party any longer,” said Rep. Dan Kildee, D-Mich.

Republicans said they’d use the vote to target freshman Democrats and those from districts Trump carried in 2016. They said they would contrast those Democrats’ support for the rules with campaign promises to focus on issues voters want to address, not on impeaching Trump.

The House GOP’s campaign arm sent emails to reporters all but taunting some of those Democrats including freshman Rep. Chris Pappas, D-N.H. “Pappas wants to be a one-termer,” one said.

GOP leaders called the rules “Speaker Pelosi’s sham process designed to discredit the Democratic process” in their daily impeachment email to lawmakers.

Pelosi decided to have the vote following weeks of GOP claims that the inquiry was invalid because the chamber had not voted to formally commence the work.

The rules lay out how the House Intelligence Committee — now leading the investigation by deposing diplomats and other officials behind closed doors — would transition to public hearings.

That panel would issue a report and release transcripts of the closed-door interviews it has been conducting.

The Judiciary Committee would then decide whether to recommend that the House impeach Trump.

According to the rules for hearings, Republicans could only issue subpoenas for witnesses to appear if the entire panel approved them — in effect giving Democrats veto power.

Attorneys for Trump could participate in the Judiciary Committee proceedings. But in a bid for leverage, panel Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., would be allowed to deny “specific requests” by Trump representatives if the White House continued refusing to provide documents or witnesses sought by Democratic investigators.

The rules also direct House committees “to continue their ongoing investigations” of Trump.

Top Democrats think that language will shield their members from weeks of Republican complaints that the inquiry has been invalid because the House had not formally voted to begin that work.

Democrats have said there’s no constitutional provision or House rule requiring such a vote.

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29 comments

  • Gonearethedays

    And due process is revoked… followed by Lady Liberty weeping.

    It seems as though the democrats are pushing towards a civil war.

  • Hillary

    With this act, the house has nullified The Constitution.

    The President should declare martial law, and put down this unlawful dissent.

    • lml25

      Dems are pushing the same annihilation our other freedoms–including speech,due process in legal procedures and the right to defend our border–whites especially.

  • Indicible

    Funny.

    Trump flagrantly violates the Oath of Office/Constitution on an almost daily basis, and some angry commenters are crying foul (and civil war?!) for the House following the same rules of law set by the Republicans when they held the majority of Congress.
    Hypocrite much?
    Don’t worry, I’m sure Mo$cow Mitch will just throw this next to that pile of House bills sent to his desk that he refuses to bring to a Senate vote until he can “spin” this in his favor to the angry, gullible folks of Team Trump.
    Have a wonderful day! :)

  • Common cents

    Name the bills waiting at Mitch’s desk. The old witch of the west won’t bring NAFTA up for a vote even with wide spread support from her own party. She won’t bring up immigration reform, she won’t bring up boarder security, and on and on. You l!bturds are nothing but soc!alists.

  • BS

    Passed on a purely partisan vote – evidence that democrats cannot convince American voters on the merits of an issue but have to cheat, lie and change the rules in their favor. Democrats have proven they are not fit to hold public office.

  • BS

    Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    Passed on a purely partisan vote – evidence that democrats cannot convince American voters on the merits of an issue but have to cheat, lie and change the rules in their favor. Democrats have proven they are not fit to hold public office.
    I guess moderators at this fox website cannot allow their readers to know facts.

  • Not racist not violent but no longer silent

    If the president IS guilty of a crime or impeachment I’m all for it. BUT I want everything in the open. I want the truth on Obama… “Tell Vladimir I’ll have more flexibility after the election” Fast and furious. $150 billion to Iran.
    It’s super easy to target Trump, it’s been happening before inauguration. Please take him down, ONLY if Obama’s corrupt administration is treated exactly the same.

    • Indicible

      Umm…that’s whats happening.
      Everything WILL be out on the open pertaining to Trump excluding all the subpoena ignoring and such by his loyal minions.
      Obama no longer has an administration, by the way.

      • BP

        So if Obama isn’t in office it doesn’t matter? His administration spying on Trump etc? A crime is still a crime, whether Obama is in office or not.

          • Indicible

            ~BEEP~
            Nobody cares except you.
            Hillary testified, why won’t Barr be grilled…is it because I just heat from the inside? :(

  • dem o'crat

    How funny would it be if the House voted to impeach (which they will) and Trump wins re-election (which he will)? It’s times like this I’m ashamed to be an American who served and protected this country.

    • Indicible

      Denial is a stage of grief that was one of 5 debunked.
      I suggest you get caught up with the times.
      “Serving your country” means nothing to this Gen Xer and younger voters alike.
      Unless you are a “boomer”, you didn’t defend or protect us from anything invading our United States of America.
      You took an Oath to defend us, whether foreign or DOMESTIC, yes?
      Let it ride out, and make your judgement on facts instead of feelings, please.
      Thank you for your service.
      P.S. Trump will lose the election.

  • rg

    So far all the leaked witness testimony is just their opinion of the call. No facts that are impeachable. At least with the Democrats focussed on impeachment, they aren’t passing bills to take more of my money or freedoms.

  • Scott

    Antra Elnasar needs to stick to facts and not speculate what was Congressman Upton’s decision to vote against the Impeachment Inquiry. When she offers what “might” have been the reason is not reporting, it is editorializing. Please stick to facts. Because of reporting such as this, it is difficult to believe the media.

      • rg

        Many people believe that Hillary Clinton would become President if Trump is forced out of office. They are too dumb to know that VP Pence would take over.

        • stop their madness

          And many are too young and dense to realize that Clinton did not leave office after he was impeached for lying to congress. Sad.

          • stop their madness

            Not to mention this will never get thru the senate. Silly little children. Sit back with a bowl of popcorn and relax.

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