House Democrats Lay Groundwork To Officially Begin Impeachment Proceedings: Report
House Democrats are expected to take action this week that would put the House Judiciary Committee on record as laying the groundwork to impeach President Donald Trump.
The precise language is still in flux but has two purposes — one to add muscle to ongoing Democrat-led investigations of the president and one to reflect a growing call for action on impeachment, Politico reported.
Anonymous sources familiar with the matter told Politico that a vote on the investigation could be held as early as Wednesday.
House Democrats currently have a number of investigations underway as they seek misconduct within the Trump administration. The investigations took on new urgency for Democrats after former special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation found that there was no collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.
To date, House Democrats have been largely checkmated by the Trump administration’s refusal to cooperate with the investigations. Putting the investigations under the mantle of an investigation that has impeachment as its ultimate purpose can give new authority to the committees investigating Trump and is seen as a tactic that might make witnesses more willing to cooperate, Politico reported.
Although the phrase “impeachment investigation” has been used by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler of New York, the term lacks a formal meaning. As Republicans in the House have pointed out, a formal impeachment investigation cannot begin without a vote, and no vote has been taken.
However, Democrats have been talking up impeachment for months to the point where many Democratic voters want action to match the rhetoric.
Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York has been a frequent supporter of impeachment and called for it again Friday because of a report that a U.S. military crew stayed at a Trump Organization-owned resort in Scotland.
The President is corrupt and must be impeached. https://t.co/L4fS2pExDe
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) September 7, 2019
“The President is corrupt and must be impeached,” she tweeted.
Support for impeachment has grown to the point where a majority of House Democrats now back it, according to The Washington Post.
Despite the loud voices calling for impeaching Trump, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has soft-pedaled impeachment, fearing it is not popular with voters.
“Nancy Pelosi is a pretty good student of history and she recognizes what a disaster this would be so close to the 2020 election, particularly if you look at the polls,” Ford O’Connell, an adjunct professor at George Washington University’s graduate school of political management, told USA Today. “She knows better.”
A Monmouth University poll bears out Pelosi’s concerns. In August, it found that 59 percent of those polled opposed impeachment. In the same poll, 51 percent of those responding opposed the Judiciary Committee labeling its hunt for misconduct as an “impeachment investigation.”
But the Monmouth University poll also found the bind in which Democrats have placed themselves. The poll found that 72 percent of Democrats respondents said the Judiciary Committee should frame its work in terms of impeachment. Only 8 percent of Republicans agreed.
One expert noted that impeachment has become less about misconduct and more about politics.
“It’s moved off of ‘do we have enough evidence, what’s the standard of proof, is it a high crime and misdemeanor’ and it’s become a complete political question at this point,” David Weinstein, a former assistant U.S. attorney said. “There’s a lot at stake for the Democrats, should they take a shot and miss.”
Impeachment takes two major steps. First, the House has to pass articles of impeachment; essentially an indictment against a president. That’s within the realm of possibility because Democrats control the House. The second phase of impeachment is a trial, which takes place in the Senate. Members of the Senate’s Republican majority have said in the past there is little doubt that an effort to remove Trump would fall short in the Senate.
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