Impeachment Inquiry Is Legal, Judge Rules, Giving Democrats a Victory – The New York Times

In its legal filings, the House Judiciary Committee asserted that it was already conducting an inquiry into whether Mr. Trump should be impeached. At the time, Speaker Nancy Pelosi was seen as reluctant to put forward a resolution formally authorizing such an inquiry, to avoid jeopardizing newly elected Democrats who won seats in moderate districts in the 2018 midterm elections.

But in September, as revelations about Mr. Trump’s Ukraine dealings fueled support for an impeachment inquiry, Ms. Pelosi announced that one was underway — but stopped short of bringing a resolution to the floor. Republicans in Congress have seized upon the lack of a formal vote as the foundation for their opposition to the inquiry, focusing on process instead of the substance of the allegations against Mr. Trump.

As of Friday, all but three Senate Republicans — Senators Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Mitt Romney of Utah and Susan Collins of Maine — had signed onto a resolution that accused Democrats of conducting an unfair inquiry and called on the House to vote for a formal impeachment investigation.

Also on Friday, the Republican National Committee’s governing body made the unusual gesture of declaring in a symbolic resolution that it “now more than ever wholeheartedly supports” Mr. Trump in the middle of “a nakedly partisan impeachment investigation.”

Both the Trump legal team and Republicans have adopted the lack of a formal impeachment vote as a basis for their arguments that the inquiry is illegitimate — stressing it both publicly and in letters warning executive branch officials not to cooperate when Congress asks them to testify or provide documents, including Mr. Cipollone’s documents.

Some administration officials have defied that warning and testified anyway, while others have invoked the White House’s directions to refuse to cooperate with impeachment investigators.

One of the officials subpoenaed on Friday for testimony, Russell T. Vought, the acting director of the Office of Management and Budget, had cited Mr. Cipollone’s letter when he announced this week that he and another top Trump appointee there, Michael Duffey, would not appear before Congress. Mr. Cipollone denounced the inquiry as “constitutionally illegitimate.”

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