The United States House of Representatives has passed a resolution Thursday that formalizes the next steps in the impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump. The final vote was 232-196, with former Republican and current independent Rep. Justin Amash voting yes and two Democrats voting no.
The measure, which came after weeks of Republican criticism of Democrats for conducting their interviews behind closed doors, signals the beginning of public hearings in which staff counsel for both parties will be given equal time to question witnesses.
“Sadly, this is not any cause for any glee or comfort. This is something that is very solemn, that is something prayerful and that we had to gather so much information to take us to this next step,” said Speaker Nancy Pelosi on the House floor prior to the vote, adding, “Every member should support allowing the American people to hear the facts themselves, that’s really what this vote is about.”
White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham portrayed the vote as a partisan exercise. “The President has done nothing wrong, and the Democrats know it. Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats’ unhinged obsession with this illegitimate impeachment proceeding does not hurt President Trump; it hurts the American people,” Grisham said in a written statement.
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., who has led the impeachment inquiry to date, referenced the founding fathers when speaking of the need to hold Trump accountable.
“This is a solemn day in the history of our country, when the president’s misconduct has compelled us to continue to move forward with an impeachment inquiry,” Schiff said at a news conference held following the passage of the measure, adding, “The founding fathers understood that a leader might take hold of the Oval Office who would sacrifice the national security, who would fail to defend the Constitution, who would place his personal and political interests above the interests of the country. They understood that might happen, and they provided a mechanism to deal with it, and that mechanism is called impeachment.”
The two Democrats to vote no were Rep. Jeff Van Drew of New Jersey and Rep. Collin Peterson of Minnesota.
Since late September, House Democrats have been building their case that Trump abused his powers as president by asking the president of Ukraine to announce an investigation of one of his political rivals, former Vice President Joe Biden, and to cooperate with Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani to validate a right-wing conspiracy theory about the 2016 election. A July 25 phone call between Trump and President Volodymyr Zelensky alarmed multiple U.S. government officials and sparked a whistleblower complaint.