After weeks of Republicans expressing concerns about the impeachment process in the House, Speaker Nancy Pelosi has scheduled a vote for Thursday, Oct. 31 on a resolution to formalize and establish the guidelines of the impeachment inquiry against President Trump. The resolution is expected to pass along party lines. It also will initiate a public phase of the inquiry, establish rules for the public presentation of evidence and outline due process rights for the president.Democrats are hoping the vote will help to move along the process and prevent stonewalling by the White House. Democratic leadership is concerned that a drawn out impeachment process could lessen public approval and lose momentum.
Since announcing the inquiry on Sept. 24, Republicans have protested the Democrats’ investigation, even storming a hearing room and claiming the process was violating the president’s rights. On Oct. 8, White House Counsel Pat Cipollone sent a letter to top House Democrats stating the president’s lawyers must be allowed to call and cross-examine witnesses, access evidence, and be afforded other “basic rights guaranteed to all Americans.”
Looking at precedent, the House allowed President Nixon’s and Clinton’s defense lawyers to respond to evidence and testimony during their impeachment inquiries. The House also held a full vote to authorize the impeachment inquiries against these presidents.
Now Republicans in Congress and the White House are arguing that the vote highlights how the House Democrats have been proceeding with an unauthorized inquiry. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R.-Calif.) said of the Speaker’s decision, “today’s backtracking is an admission that this process has been botched from the start.” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, stated, “A vote now is a bit like un-ringing a bell as House Democrats have selectively leaked information in order to damage President Trump for weeks.”
Sen. Graham has also spearheaded a resolution, cosponsored by a majority of Senate Republicans, that formally opposes the impeachment inquiry, and urges the House to give the president due process and hold an official vote on the inquiry by the full House.