As expected, the House of Representatives passed a resolution on Thursday that moves the impeachment inquiry into Donald Trump into a new, more public phase.
A pair of Democrats – Collin Peterson and Jeff Van Drew – broke ranks with Pelosi and voted with Republicans against adopting the rules set out earlier this week, after the Speaker announced that she would hold a full vote.
Also in line with expectations, Justin Amash – who abandoned the Republican Party on July 4 to become an Independent – voted with Democrats for the inquiry.
The vote was 232-196.
Now, the door is open to public hearings and the release of transcripts from the myriad closed-door depositions House investigators have conducted over the course of the last several weeks.
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. A statement from Alexander Vindman proved so damning that the president and some of his allies spent Tuesday slandering the Purple Heart recipient.
The measure passed on Thursday also details the rights Republican lawmakers and Trump have in terms of participating as the inquiry barrels along.
In all likelihood, Trump will be impeached by the end of the year. Although the Syria debacle raised the odds of a Senate conviction from zero to a number greater than zero, it still seems far-fetched (in the extreme) to suggest he’ll be removed from office by the Republican-controlled chamber.
That said, upcoming testimony – including possible depositions for John Bolton and John Eisenberg – has the potential to sway moderate Republicans and, perhaps more importantly, public opinion.
Naturally, Trump is furious, although the White House issued a patently ridiculous statement suggesting that somehow, the president is “not hurt”.
“Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats’ unhinged obsession with this illegitimate impeachment proceeding does not hurt President Trump; it hurts the American people”, the statement reads.
Don’t let it be lost on you that one of the main arguments for characterizing the impeachment inquiry as “illegitimate” was that Pelosi hadn’t taken a vote. Now she has, and Republicans are moving the goal posts.
For his part, the president tweeted about witch hunts.
“The Greatest Witch Hunt In American History!”, he shouted, into the digital void. He also claimed “The Impeachment Hoax is hurting our Stock Market”.
To be clear, weakness on Wall Street Thursday had nothing at all to do with the impeachment inquiry. Stocks fell on a Bloomberg report about trade talks and a series of downbeat economic reports.