Pelosi under new pressure to hold an impeachment inquiry vote next week – Washington Examiner
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi faces new pressure to hold a House vote on impeachment when lawmakers return to Congress next week.
Progressive Democrats are ramping up demands for an official floor vote to open an impeachment inquiry now that President Trump has dared them to go on the record.
“I think it’s time for us to put a vote on the floor, a resolution for the inquiry structured in such a way that it can move forward with full power of the Congress behind it,” Rep. John Garamendi of California told CNN this week.
White House counsel Pat Cipollone last week warned House Democrats the Trump administration will not cooperate with a House impeachment probe unless it is sanctioned by a floor vote.
“In the history of our nation, the House of Representatives has never attempted to launch an impeachment inquiry against the President without a majority of the House taking political accountability for that decision by voting to authorize such a dramatic constitutional step,” Cipollone wrote.
Garamendi and other Democrats believe a vote would force the president to cooperate — or at least give more legitimacy to the obstruction charges Democrats are building against him in their impeachment case.
“They want a fight, then let us arm ourselves completely and totally with the full power of the Congress,” Garamendi said.
Some Democrats during a Friday conference call with Pelosi were expected to urge a House vote, which pro-impeachment Democrats believe will easily clear the 217-vote threshold needed to pass.
While Garamendi predicted a House vote on impeachment in the coming week or two, Pelosi hasn’t signaled whether she’ll take that step other than telling reporters last week a vote “is not anything that is excluded.”
The California Democrat has declared repeatedly that opening an impeachment inquiry does not require approval from the House.
Democrats are instead threatening Trump they’ll vote to impeach him for obstructing their investigation.
Three House committees have been conducting hearings and depositions with a string of witnesses who Democrats believe have information about Trump’s effort to get Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and the Democratic National Committee.
The Trump administration has blocked some witnesses from testifying, but others plan to cooperate with subpoenas.
“Any efforts by Trump Administration officials to prevent witness cooperation with the Committees will be deemed obstruction of a co-equal branch of government and an adverse inference may be drawn against the President on the underlying allegations of corruption and coverup,” House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-California, Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot Engel, D-New York, and Oversight Chairman Elijah Cummings, D-Maryland, said Friday after the ex-ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch, defied Trump’s orders and gave a deposition in a closed-door session.
Pelosi, in a memo to Democrats on Friday, suggested Democrats could pursue obstruction charges against the president, pointing to an op-ed from 17 lawyers who investigated President Richard Nixon during the Watergate probe. The House ultimately charged Nixon with obstruction, but he resigned before a House vote on impeachment.
“The president’s refusal to cooperate in confirming (or disputing) the facts already on the public record should not delay or frustrate the House’s performance of its constitutional duty,” the Watergate-era laywers wrote.
Some progressive Democrats are in no rush to hold a vote to open an impeachment inquiry.
Rep. Ro Khanna, who is one of the leaders of the House Progressive Caucus, told CNN there is no need to hold a vote.
“Because the White House has stonewalled for the past three years,” Khanna said. “And anyone who thinks that if we do this that suddenly they’re going to cooperate, I think that is just naive.”
A quick move toward a Senate trial, though would in a sense be in the interest of Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. It would benefit both figures, and the lawmakers they represent to finish off an impeachment trial by January.
Both want to keep impeachment away from the 2020 presidential campaign because it potentially risks their parties’ majorities in each respective chamber. McConnell, R-Kentucky, feels he can keep Senate Republicans lined up in opposition to impeachment, even Mitt Romney, the freshman Utah lawmaker and 2012 Republican presidential nominee, who at times has been a leading critic of Trump. That might include stinging criticism of the president, along the lines of then-Democratic Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut in 1998. At the time, Lieberman raised moral objections to President Bill Clinton’s behavior in the Monica Lewinsky scandal, but in the Senate trial voted to acquit on charges of perjury and obstruction of justice.