WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday approved guidelines it will use for the rest of its impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump’s actions in a largely party line 232-196 vote, with assent from all Ohio’s Democrats and opposition from the state’s Republicans.
The resolution reaffirms the current probe into whether Trump improperly pressured Ukraine’s president to investigate a political rival, former Vice President Joe Biden, and establishes the procedures that the Democratic-led House of Representatives will use to continue the investigation and present impeachment articles to the House of Representatives if they’re warranted.
A statement from White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham said Trump has done “nothing wrong and the Democrats know it,” and the vote did “nothing more than enshrine unacceptable violations of due process into House rules.”
“Trying to put a ribbon on a sham process doesn’t make it any less of a sham,” said Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Urbana. “Never forget how this whole thing started. Democrats are trying to impeach the president of the United States thirteen months before an election based on an anonymous whistleblower with no first hand knowledge who has a bias against the president.”
U.S. Rep. Bob Latta, R-Bowling Green, agreed, calling it a “sham process.”
“Today’s vote was simply a tool for House Democrats to say they are now running a legitimate impeachment inquiry, even though they are conducting nothing of the sort,” he said in a statement. “Americans rightly believe in due process, in having access to legal counsel, in being able to confront your accusers – all of which we’re seeing be denied in House Intelligence hearings. Now, 37 days after this all began, with mounting criticism of the majority’s behind-closed-doors approach, House Democrats decide to put this resolution on the floor.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, of California, saw it differently.
“What’s at stake is nothing less than our democracy,” said Pelosi, who said the procedures would let the public “see the facts for themselves,” would give Republicans the same rights to question witnesses as the Democrats who control Congress “which has been true at every step of this inquiry despite what you might hear,” and would allow Trump and his family “more privileges” that previous presidents were given in past impeachment inquiries.
The top House Republican, California’s Kevin McCarthy, decried the proceedings as a “sham” and accused Democrats of trying to portray legitimate presidential actions as impeachable offenses because they couldn’t defeat him at the ballot box.
Democratic Rep. Tim Ryan said it was illegal and an abuse of power for Trump to “pressure a foreign nation to investigate his political opponent” while withholding crucial government aid. He said the U.S. Constitution says Congress is supposed to act as a check on the executive branch, and Republicans and Democrats alike need to “put country before party.”
“The President’s lawless actions threatens our free and fair elections, our national security, and our democracy,” said Ryan. “We must send a strong, unequivocal message that President Trump and his Administration are not above the law - there are consequences to their corrupt actions.”
House Democratic Leader Steny Hoyer of Maryland released a statement that said the procedures approved Thursday will let “the American people hear directly from witnesses about this President’s abuse of power.
“While it is disappointing that Republicans voted against this resolution today, it is consistent with their refusal to defend the Constitution and uphold their oath of office,” said Hoyer. “House Democrats will continue to seek the facts on behalf of the American people regarding the President’s abuse of power.”