House green-lights Trump impeachment inquiry

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Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi gavels the close of a vote by the U.S. House of Representatives on a resolution formalizing the impeachment inquiry centered on U.S. President Donald Trump October 31, 2019 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
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Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi gavels the close of a vote by the U.S. House of Representatives on a resolution formalizing the impeachment inquiry centered on U.S. President Donald Trump October 31, 2019 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON — The U.S. House on Thursday voted to formalize its impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump. 

Lawmakers adopted a resolution that lays out procedures for the inquiry that is already taking place in the House. That investigation is centered on whether the president abused his power by attempting to pressure the president of Ukraine to investigate Trump’s political opponent. 

The measure passed largely along partisan lines by a vote of 232-196, with no Republicans backing the resolution. One independent, Justin Amash of Michigan, voted in favor of the resolution and two Democrats voted against it. 

Democrats hailed the resolution as a roadmap that will provide for a fair and transparent process, while Republicans supportive of the president assailed the effort as a political attack. 

“What is at stake in all of this is nothing less than our democracy,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said ahead of the vote. “Sadly, this is not any cause for any glee or comfort. This is something that is very solemn.” 

House Democratic leadership had previously announced a formal inquiry, but held a floor vote in part to combat complaints from Republicans that the full chamber hadn’t been allowed to vote. Still, Thursday’s vote is unlikely to reduce the partisan fighting over the process. 

Trump wrote on Twitter Thursday morning, “The Impeachment Hoax is hurting our Stock Market. The Do Nothing Democrats don’t care!” He added later, “The Greatest Witch Hunt In American History!”

Trump’s critics in the House insist that the president’s behavior and their constitutional obligations have driven them to pursue their investigation. 

“Donald Trump endangered our national security and undermined our elections by pressuring a foreign country to interfere in the 2020 election,” said Nevada Rep. Dina Titus. “Moreover, the White House has repeatedly broken the law by refusing to comply with congressional subpoenas. Today I voted to let the American people hear for themselves the extent of President Trump’s abuse of power. We will continue to build a mountain of evidence to make the strongest case possible to the public and to the Senate.”

“The vote today allows the investigative inquiry to proceed in a manner that ensures public transparency, provides due process for the White House and allows for the Republican minority in the House to fully participate,” said Nevada Democratic Rep. Steven Horsford.  The process approved by the House Thursday “allows the American people to hear directly from witnesses in the House investigation in an open setting.”

Republican lawmakers continued to decry the process, drawing criticisms from Democrats that they’re making procedural arguments to avoid discussing the president’s behavior. 

Announcing Wednesday he would vote against the resolution, Mark Amodei, Nevada’s sole Republican in the House, told the Reno Gazette-Journal that process has “no transparency,” adding, “I don’t think it builds any credibility on this whistleblower thing.”

That narrative was echoed by other GOP House members Thursday.

“The resolution before us today is not about transparency, it’s about control. It’s not about fairness, it’s about winning,” said Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.), the top Republican on the House Judiciary Committee. 

Some moderate Democrats who voted for the inquiry stressed that their support for the investigation does not indicate how they may ultimately vote on articles of impeachment. 

House lawmakers could vote as soon as this year on articles of impeachment against the president. If approved, the articles would be the subject of a trial in the Senate, where the GOP-led chamber is unlikely to vote to convict the president.

Robin Bravender
Robin Bravender is the Washington, D.C., bureau chief for The Newsroom, a network of state-based non-profit news outlets that includes Nevada Current.