The House Judiciary Committee voted along party lines Thursday to approve the guidelines for an impeachment investigation into President Donald Trump.
The 24-17 vote came after two hours of debate while Chairman Jerry Nadler tried to make the goal of the inquiry clear, Breitbart reported.
“Some call this process an impeachment inquiry. Some call it an impeachment investigation. There is no legal difference between these terms, and I no longer care to argue about the nomenclature,” the New York Democrat said.
“But let me clear up any remaining doubt: The conduct under investigation poses a threat to our democracy. We have an obligation to respond to this threat. And we are doing so.”
Although Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi has cautioned her fellow Democrats against impeachment in the past, she told reporters that she supports “what is happening in the Judiciary Committee because that enables them to do their process of interrogation and investigation,” Politico reported.
Republicans on the committee unsurprisingly oppose the measure. According to Breitbart, ranking Rep. Doug Collins said that the committee “has become a giant Instagram filter … it’s put in there to look like something, but it’s really not.”
“My colleagues know very well they don’t have the votes to authorize impeachment proceedings on the House floor, but they want to impeach the president anyway,” the Georgia Republican said. “So, they are pretending to initiate impeachment.”
However, Democrats seem to still be divided over impeachment, and some even say it’ll help Trump be re-elected in 2020.
“You are going to give Donald Trump another four years by doing that,” Democratic Rep. Steven Lynch of Massachusetts said last month, according to Politico. “You are helping him. You are helping him get another four years.”
Trump responded to the vote with a tweet quoting Texas Democratic Rep. Al Green, who introduced the articles of impeachment in June: “We can’t beat him, so let’s impeach him!”
“We can’t beat him, so lets impeach him!” Democrat Rep. Al Green
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 12, 2019
Although the committee isn’t writing articles of impeachment and the measure isn’t being sent to the House floor at the moment, outlining the guidelines for the impeachment investigation would add muscle to ongoing Democrat-led investigations of the president, according to Fox News.
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 those investigations under the mantle of one 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.
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, told USA Today.
“There’s a lot at stake for the Democrats, should they take a shot and miss.”
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