‘This vote magnifies Chairman Schiff’s ability to abuse his power at the expense of truth and justice…’
(Liberty Headlines) Democrats rammed a package of ground rules for their impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump through a sharply divided House Thursday, the chamber’s first formal vote in a fight that could stretch into the 2020 election year.
The vote was 232-196, with all Republicans against the resolution and two Democratic defectors joining them.
The vote attempted to lay a veneer of authenticity following weeks of star-chamber type closed-door interviews with witnesses, led by House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, who has selectively leaked carefully chosen information from the hearings to sympathetic media.
The House vote also took on more than technical meaning, with each party aware that the impeachment effort looms as a defining issue for next year’s presidential and congressional campaigns.
Democrats spoke of lawmakers’ duty to defend the Constitution, while Republicans cast the process as a skewed attempt to railroad a president whom Democrats have detested since before he took office.
“What is at stake in all this is nothing less than our democracy,” said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.
Underscoring her point, she addressed the House with a poster of the American flag beside her and began her remarks by reading the opening lines of the preamble to the Constitution.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., said Trump had done nothing impeachable and accused Democrats of trying to remove him “because they are scared they cannot defeat him at the ballot box.” Noting that elections are just a year away, he added, “Why do you not trust the people?”
No. 3 House GOP leader Steve Scalise, R-La., accused Democrats of imposing “Soviet-style rules,” speaking in front of a bright red poster depicting the Kremlin.
The investigation is focused on Trump’s efforts to push Ukraine to investigate possible corruption by former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter, whose roles related to a Ukraine prosecutor’s inquiry into a gas company that Hunter worked for are in question.
Democrats said, without evidence, that the procedures — which give them the ability to curb the president’s lawyers from calling witnesses — are similar to rules used during the impeachment proceedings of Presidents Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton. Republicans complained they were skewed against Trump.
It is likely to take weeks or more before the House decides whether to vote on actually impeaching Trump. If the House does vote for impeachment, the Senate would hold a trial to decide whether to remove the president from office.
GOP leaders called the rules “Speaker Pelosi’s sham process designed to discredit the Democratic process” in their daily impeachment email to lawmakers.
“This vote magnifies Chairman Schiff’s ability to abuse his power at the expense of truth and justice,” said Rep. Doug Collins, the Georgia Republican who is the Ranking Member on the House Judiciary Committee. “It guarantees the president no due process rights unless Democrats are inclined to grant them.
“Americans want Democrats to return to legislating, but Speaker Pelosi’s caucus turned a deaf ear to them. Instead, 231 Democrats voted to continue a covert process to undo a national election and nullify the will of the American people.”
Adapted from reporting by Associated Press.