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House Democrats reveal formal Trump impeachment plan, tentative Thursday vote

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., speaks to the media as Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., House Majority Whip Steny Hoyer, D-Md., and Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin, D-Ill., look on after a meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump at the White House Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2019 in Washington, D.C. (Olivier Douliery/Abaca Press/TNS)
October 29, 2019

Democrats in control of investigative committees in the U.S. House of Representatives are moving to quell dissent over their impeachment process against President Donald Trump through a resolution this week to “affirm” the inquiry they began in October.

The resolution, introduced by Massachusetts Democratic Rep. James McGovern, would direct committees to “continue their ongoing investigations as part of the existing House of Representatives inquiry into whether sufficient grounds exist for the House of Representatives. . . to impeach Donald John Trump.”

The eight-page resolution directs the House Financial Services, Foreign Affairs, the Judiciary, Oversight and Reform, and Ways and Means committees to investigations of Trump.

On Monday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi she would seek a House vote by Thursday to formalize the impeachment process Democrats have already initiated against Trump. If the measure passes a House vote, it would at least appear to establish the formal procedures for impeachment hearings as well as due process rights for the President, Fox News reported.

Trump administration officials and Republican lawmakers have argued for weeks that impeachment under the current terms was not legitimate as no House floor vote had been taken for an impeachment resolution.

Pelosi first announced the impeachment inquiry against President Trump on Sep. 24, following allegations Trump withheld a U.S. aid package to Ukraine to corruptly pressure Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate Ukrainian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election as well as Democratic presidential contender Joe Biden, following allegations Biden pressured a Ukrainian prosecutor’s firing while serving as Vice President in 2016.

While no formal vote had been taken in the House, Democrat-led committees have pursued witness testimony to corroborate allegations made against Trump during a July 25, phone conversation with Zelensky.

The Trump administration has made several attempts to block officials called to testify before House committees and last week Republican lawmakers forced their way into a closed door impeachment hearing, demanding they receive equal transparency with regards to witness testimony.

Earlier in October, Pelosi reportedly considered holding a formal House vote on impeachment but ultimately decided against such an action and said there is no requirement that there be a house vote.

In a statement released by Pelosi on Monday, the House Speaker said the planned Thursday vote was not a formal House floor vote on articles of impeachment, but rather a measure affirming the investigations Democrats had already begun.

“We are taking this step to eliminate any doubt as to whether the Trump administration may withhold documents, prevent witness testimony, disregard duly authorized subpoenas, or continue obstructing the House of Representatives,” Pelosi said.

When reporters asked Pelosi to comment further on the measure, she said it was not an impeachment resolution.

The new resolution purports to answer Republican concerns about access to witnesses by setting out the conditions under which Republicans may question witnesses or subpoena their own witnesses, upon the condition of consent by the Democrat committee chairs.

The resolution also appears to resolve Republican complaints about selective leaking of witness testimony by authorizing public release of full witness transcripts.

“We won’t be able to comment fully until we see the actual text,” White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham said in a Monday statement, “but Speaker Pelosi is finally admitting what the rest of America already knew – that Democrats were conducting an unauthorized impeachment proceeding, refusing to give the President due process, and their secret, shady, closed-door depositions are completely and irreversibly illegitimate.”