The U.S. House of Representatives Thursday upped the ante in its ongoing efforts to impeach President Donald Trump, voting 232-196, largely along party lines, in favor of a resolution formally laying out the ground rules for a more public phase of the investigation.
Every Republican in the House voted against the measure, along with two Democratic defectors — New Jersey’s Jeff Van Drew and Minnesota’s Collin Peterson.
The resolution allows for testimony in the inquiry, carried on largely behind closed doors over the last few weeks, to be carried out in open hearings.
Going forward, Republicans may issue subpoenas for witnesses and the president’s lawyers will be allowed to participate in the proceedings, though Democrats will have veto power over their actions if the White House continues to press witnesses not to testify and withhold documents.
The House Intelligence Committee will decide whether to release transcripts of testimony that has been taken to date.
Republican leaders rounded on the rules as “Soviet-style” and accused Democrats of moving forward with the impeachment efforts because they are afraid to face the president at the ballot box.
“Why do you not trust the people?” said House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.).
The Greatest Witch Hunt In American History!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 31, 2019
Democrats noted that the rules are the same ones adopted by the House in 2015 when Republicans were in charge.
In a letter to fellow House Democrats on Monday published by Axios, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) wrote the resolution will “eliminate any doubt as to whether the Trump Administration may withhold documents, prevent witness testimony, disregard duly authorized subpoenas, or continue obstructing the House of Representatives.”
“What is at stake in all this is nothing less than our democracy,” she said on the House floor Thursday.
It is likely to be weeks or more before the House decides whether to vote on actually impeaching Trump. If the House does vote for impeachment, the Senate will hold a trial to decide whether to remove the president from office.