House Democrats just decided to call President Trump’s bluff and hold a floor vote on the ongoing impeachment inquiry to lay out their next steps.
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) explained what is happening in her second “Dear Colleague” letter, thirty-six days after her first of those letters arrived as a prelude to an active impeachment inquiry into the president.
President Trump has openly stonewalled House impeachment investigators by refusing to submit any documents which they’ve subpoenaed since the Speaker’s announcement in late September, arguing that he didn’t need to comply since there hasn’t been a formal floor vote yet.
Meanwhile, House Republicans have been endlessly complaining about the Democratic “failure” to respect “the process,” which happens to be running exactly according to the same House Rules that former GOP Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) enacted in 2015.
“Republicans will now be forced to defend the inexcusable and unjustifiable: the hard evidence they’ve been desperately running away from,” says a senior Democratic aide on Capitol Hill.” The Speaker wrote:
“This week, we will bring a resolution to the Floor that affirms the ongoing, existing investigation that is currently being conducted by our committees as part of this impeachment inquiry, including all requests for documents, subpoenas for records and testimony, and any other investigative steps previously taken or to be taken as part of this investigation.
This resolution establishes the procedure for hearings that are open to the American people, authorizes the disclosure of deposition transcripts, outlines procedures to transfer evidence to the Judiciary Committee as it considers potential articles of impeachment, and sets forth due process rights for the President and his Counsel.
We are taking this step to 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.
For weeks, the President, his Counsel in the White House, and his allies in Congress have made the baseless claim that the House of Representatives’ impeachment inquiry “lacks the necessary authorization for a valid impeachment proceeding.” They argue that, because the House has not taken a vote, they may simply pretend the impeachment inquiry does not exist.
The Trump Administration has made up this argument – apparently out of whole cloth – in order to justify its unprecedented cover-up, withhold key documents from multiple federal agencies, prevent critical witnesses from cooperating, and defy duly authorized subpoenas.”
Speaker Pelosi signed the letter in the same manner as her last letter, adding:
Nobody is above the law.
Last week, a federal court upheld Speaker Pelosi’s declaration of a formal impeachment inquiry as a constitutional power of the House in a ruling ordering the release of the secret Mueller grand jury materials to congressional investigators.
So there is no technical need for the House to vote on a resolution of inquiry to continue their impeachment investigation at this time.
But the process occurring in the House is starting to resemble what happened in early September when the House Judiciary Committee voted to adopt several special procedures to enhance their public hearings, including a Watergate-era idea to let top attorneys handle questioning witnesses.
Depending on what House leadership puts into the resolution of inquiry, it could make it easier for a Committee chairman to hold uncooperative witnesses in contempt of Congress, and it’ll probably put the breaks on all Republican SCIF-incursions too.
Needless to say, President Trump won’t be able to deny reality after the full House votes to move forward with an impeachment inquiry that even Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) believes is going to end in a Senate trial.
Now that the Speaker is taking up the President’s request for a floor vote, the results for him could be disastrous. By taking away his excuses for non-cooperation, Trump will be cut off at the knees politically and won’t be able to do a thing as the impeachment inquiry keeps expanding at a terrifying pace — for Trump, that is.
Here’s a copy of Speaker Pelosi’s letter:
Speaker Pelosi announces House vote on impeachment inquiry resolution in letter to Democrats: "This week, we will bring a resolution to the Floor that affirms the ongoing, existing investigation that is currently being conducted by our cmtes as part of this impeachment inquiry." pic.twitter.com/4CmXDhYQO6
— Craig Caplan (@CraigCaplan) October 28, 2019
Grant Stern is the Executive Editor of Occupy Democrats and published author. His new Meet the Candidates 2020 book series is distributed by Simon and Schuster. He's also mortgage broker, community activist and radio personality in Miami, Florida., as well as the producer of the Dworkin Report podcast. Grant is also an occasional contributor to Raw Story, Alternet, and the DC Report, and a senior advisor to the Democratic Coalition