Since Nancy Pelosi announced the impeachment inquiry into Donald Trump late last month, Republicans have spent every waking hour complaining about process.
Chief among those complaints was that Pelosi had not taken a full vote to authorize the inquiry despite the fact that she wasn’t required to – not by House rules and not by the Constitution either. Those complaints will be put to bed soon, because a vote is, in fact, coming.
“For weeks, the President, his Counsel in the White House, and his allies in Congress have made the baseless claim that the House of Representatives’ impeachment inquiry ‘lacks the necessary authorization for a valid impeachment proceeding'”, Pelosi wrote Monday, in a letter to Democrats. “They argue that, because the House has not taken a vote, they may simply pretend the impeachment inquiry does not exist”.
As you can see, Pelosi aims to undercut that “defense” once and for all this week.
“We will bring a resolution to the Floor that affirms the ongoing, existing investigation that is currently being conducted by our committees as part of this impeachment inquiry, including all requests for documents, subpoenas for records and testimony, and any other investigative steps previously taken or to be taken as part of this investigation”, the speaker says.
That, in turn, will set the table for public hearings, the disclosure to the public of deposition transcripts and will also “set forth due process rights for the President and his Counsel”.
One hopes Republicans were serious when they said this is what they wanted.
Bear in mind that the obsession with process is due entirely to the fact that defending Trump on the merits was very difficult following the release of the whistle-blower complaint and the transcript of the president’s call with Ukraine’s Volodymyr Zelensky.
If defending Trump on the merits was difficult last month, it’s become next to impossible after three weeks of testimony from officials including the president’s former top adviser on Russia and Ukraine Fiona Hill, Gordon Sondland, Mike Pompeo’s former top aide Michael McKinley, deputy assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs George Kent, former Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch (who implicated Rudy Giuliani in the pressure campaign to oust her) and, of course, Bill Taylor, whose 15-page prepared statement was positively devastating to the White House.
Some House Republicans became so desperate in the wake of Taylor’s deposition that they attempted to disrupt the inquiry last Wednesday in what amounted to a silly publicity stunt.
On Friday evening, the White House (and Trump’s defenders on the Hill) were dealt a grievous blow when a federal judge ruled that the House Judiciary committee was entitled to view grand jury evidence collected by Robert Mueller. In the 75-page opinion, Judge Beryl Howell declared the impeachment probe legal.
Now, Pelosi is pressing forward with a move that is best described as “be careful what you wish for, you just might get it”.
OCTOBER 28, 2019
H. Res. ___ – Directing certain 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 exercise its Constitutional power to impeach Donald John Trump, President of the United States of America, and for other purposes.
Dear Democratic Colleague,
For weeks, the President, his Counsel in the White House, and his allies in Congress have made the baseless claim that the House of Representatives’ impeachment inquiry “lacks the necessary authorization for a valid impeachment proceeding.” They argue that, because the House has not taken a vote, they may simply pretend the impeachment inquiry does not exist.
Of course, this argument has no merit. The Constitution provides that the House of Representatives “shall have the sole Power of Impeachment.” Multiple past impeachments have gone forward without any authorizing resolutions. Just last week, a federal court confirmed that the House is not required to hold a vote and that imposing such a requirement would be “an impermissible intrusion on the House’s constitutional authority.” More than 300 legal scholars have also refuted this argument, concluding that “the Constitution does not mandate the process for impeachment and there is no constitutional requirement that the House of Representatives authorize an impeachment inquiry before one begins.”
The Trump Administration has made up this argument — apparently out of whole cloth — in order to justify its unprecedented cover-up, withhold key documents from multiple federal agencies, prevent critical witnesses from cooperating, and defy duly authorized subpoenas.
This week, we will bring a resolution to the Floor that affirms the ongoing, existing investigation that is currently being conducted by our committees as part of this impeachment inquiry, including all requests for documents, subpoenas for records and testimony, and any other investigative steps previously taken or to be taken as part of this investigation.
This resolution establishes the procedure for hearings that are open to the American people, authorizes the disclosure of deposition transcripts, outlines procedures to transfer evidence to the Judiciary Committee as it considers potential articles of impeachment, and sets forth due process rights for the President and his Counsel.
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.
Nobody is above the law.