House votes to formalize impeachment inquiry procedures
Washington (CNN) The House of Representatives on Thursday approved a resolution to formalize the procedures of the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump, marking a significant step in the ongoing investigation and setting the stage for the next phase in the investigation.
The vote was 232-196 and was the first time that the full House chamber took a vote related to the inquiry.
The resolution passed largely on party lines. Two Democrats, Reps. Jeff Van Drew of New Jersey and Collin Peterson of Minnesota, split with their colleagues to vote against the resolution. No Republicans supported it. Independent Rep. Justin Amash of Michigan, who left the Republican party earlier this year, voted in favor.
The resolution provides the procedural details for how the House will move its impeachment inquiry into its next phase as it investigates a whistleblower complaint alleging that the President attempted to pressure Ukraine to interfere in the 2020 presidential election by investigating the family of his potential political rival, former Vice President Joe Biden.
The speaker usually does not preside, but for this historic vote, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi did so Thursday morning. Pelosi also voted for the resolution, which is typically reserved only for drawing specific attention to an issue.
Before the vote, Pelosi said she had the votes to pass the resolution but called it a "sad day" because "nobody comes to Congress to impeach a president."
"Today we move further down the path in our inquiry by putting forth our procedures, which are very transparent and open and frankly more transparent and more open giving more privileges to the President," Pelosi said.
Pelosi added: "It isn't about partisanship, it's about patriotism."
The House Intelligence, Foreign Affairs and Oversight Committees have been holding a series of closed-door interviews with current and former administration officials as part of the inquiry, a phase of the probe that is still ongoing and has already stretched over several weeks.
But House Democrats have said that they intend to hold public hearings as well and the resolution vote comes as the House gears up for that to soon get underway.
The text of the resolution lays out how the House Intelligence Committee will conduct public hearings and how the House Judiciary Committee "shall report to the House of Representatives such resolutions, articles of impeachment, or other recommendations as it deems proper."
The resolution also states that the minority may request witnesses to be called and issue subpoenas — but those subpoenas can only be issued "with the concurrence of the chair," meaning that Democrats would have to sign off on any Republican-led subpoenas.
The resolution says that the House Intelligence Committee will write a report "setting forth its findings and any recommendations" and that the report will be transmitted to the Judiciary Committee and be made public.
Congressional Republicans and the White House have criticized the way Democrats are conducting the impeachment inquiry as unfair and secretive, and Republicans have called on the full House to hold a vote to authorize the inquiry.
Democrats say Thursday's vote is not a formal authorization of the impeachment inquiry, but the decision to hold a vote may nevertheless serve to undercut the Trump administration talking point that the inquiry was illegitimate because it did not receive a full House vote.
House Democrats are discussing a time frame that would include public impeachment hearings before Thanksgiving and votes on whether to impeach Trump by Christmas, multiple Democratic sources have told CNN, though the timing remains fluid.