House Democrats have released a resolution outlining the sequence of impeachment procedures, and hope to silence Republicans’ complaints that the process is unfair, secretive, or straight-up illegal, by subjecting it to a vote.
The resolution, released on Tuesday, authorizes members of both parties to subpoena and question witnesses, requisition evidence, and release transcripts (with appropriate redactions). Released by Rules Committee chair Jim McGovern (D-Massachusetts), it is expected to be put to a vote on Thursday.
If it passes, the resolution will add legal heft to Democrats’ subpoenas, which have already been ignored at least once. An affirmative vote will help silence the Trump administration’s complaint that the proceedings are unconstitutional – though House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has insisted all along that a vote was not necessary for lawful impeachment proceedings to continue, and has maintained that line as recently as Monday, when she announced a vote would be forthcoming anyway.
But even after the vote was announced, some Republicans remained dissatisfied. House minority leader Kevin McCarthy (R-California) pointed out that the Democrats had already been conducting impeachment proceedings in secret for five weeks, with most in the House barred from cross-examining or even listening to testimony. Opening up the proceedings to the public now does not absolve them of responsibility for concealing the probe’s beginnings – it merely “proves everything we were saying is correct,” he told the Hill.
Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell kept an open mind, waiting for the resolution text to be released before deciding on whether to hold a floor vote in the Senate to condemn the House proceedings. “We’ll have to take a look at what the House produces later today and see if it passes the smell test” of providing the president with due process, he told the Hill on Tuesday morning. After the document’s release, he observed approvingly that the Democrats were “respond[ing] to the pressure that we put on them” and moving toward transparency.
Trump and his allies have railed against the secretive impeachment proceedings that began in September stemming from an alleged quid pro quo with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. Currently, only members of the Intelligence, Oversight, and Foreign Affairs committees are permitted into the ultra-secure basement room where the hearings are conducted, and they are forbidden from talking about the proceedings outside.
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