After months of discussions and closed door Hearings by different US House Committees, Nancy Pelosy, the Speaker of the House brought to the Full House to vote and begin formal impeachment of President Trump on Thirsday, October 31st.
A bitterly divided House of Representatives voted Thursday to endorse the Democratic-led impeachment inquiry into President Trump, in a historic action that set up a critical new public phase of the investigation and underscored the political polarization that serves as its backdrop.
The vote was 232 to 196 to approve a resolution that sets out rules for an impeachment process for which there are few precedents, and which promises to consume the country a little more than a year before the 2020 elections. It was only the third time in modern history that the House had taken a vote on an impeachment inquiry into a sitting president.
At the same time, there are risks for Democrats. Public is almost equally divided on impeachment with 49% supporting the process while 47% against impeaching President Trump.
“Today, I’m announcing the House of Representatives is moving forward with an official impeachment inquiry,” Pelosi said in a statement outside her office on the second floor of the Capitol. “The actions of the Trump presidency revealed dishonorable facts of the president’s betrayal of his oath of office, betrayal of national security and betrayal of the integrity of our elections.”
The much anticipated vote indicates that Democrats, once wary of holding a vote on the issue, have now united solidly behind the idea. They believe it adds an air of legitimacy to the inquiry and gives them practical tools they will need to effectively — and quickly — make their case to the public. It is also meant to call the bluff of Republicans who have been arguing for weeks that the process lacks legitimacy because the full House hasn’t voted on it.
The House vote was on a resolution that would set rules for the public phase of an impeachment inquiry that has so far been conducted exclusively behind closed doors. It would authorize the House Intelligence Committee — the panel that has been leading the investigation and conducting private depositions — to convene public hearings and produce a report that will guide the Judiciary Committee as it considers whether to draft articles of impeachment against President Trump.
The measure would also give the president rights in the Judiciary Committee, allowing his lawyers to participate in hearings and giving Republicans the chance to request subpoenas for witnesses and documents. But the White House says it still does not provide “basic due process rights,” and Republicans complain that their ability to issue subpoenas is limited. They would need the consent of Democrats, or a vote of a majority of members. That has been standard in previous modern impeachments. The majority has the final say over how the proceedings unfold.
The vote will be the first time the full House has gone on the record on the impeachment inquiry since Democrats announced last month that they were starting their investigation into Mr. Trump’s dealings with Ukraine. And while it is not a formal vote to open impeachment proceedings, it is all but certain to be seen as a measure of approval or disapproval for the process.
Republicans have been demanding a formal vote to authorize the impeachment inquiry, as was done in the case of President Bill Clinton, who was impeached in the House but acquitted by the Senate, and President Richard M. Nixon, who resigned rather than face impeachment. The Constitution does not require an authorization vote, nor do House rules require it, and Democrats have repeatedly said an authorization vote is not necessary.