“The Greatest Witch Hunt In American History!” Trump wrote on Twitter following the House vote.
The Greatest Witch Hunt In American History!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 31, 2019
The House of Representatives voted 232-196 to pass H. Res. 660 on Oct. 31. The resolution establishes rules on how the impeachment inquiry against President Trump would move forward such as how public hearings will proceed, how documents and transcripts will be released to the public, and who will be able to question witnesses.
Two Democrats, Rep. Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) and Rep. Jeff Van Drew (D-N.J.), voted against the resolution, while one independent voted to support it. This is the first time that House members have voted on anything related to the impeachment process.
Prior to the vote, House members debated on the resolution for an hour, with Republicans and Democrats speaking on party lines.
Republican lawmakers argued that the Democratic-led resolution was unfair because none of the 17 amendments requested by Republicans were accepted. The lawmakers said the process provided in the resolution does not follow precedents from previous impeachment inquiries and accused Democrats of feigning fairness as Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, ultimately has the final say on Republicans’ requested subpoenas and information.
“Trying to put a ribbon on a sham process doesn’t make it any less of a sham,” Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) said during his remarks on the House floor.
Similarly, Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) said the resolution “simply gives the House approval for intelligence committee Democrats to continue pursuing their bizarre obsession with overturning the results of the last presidential election.”
“The problem I’m having here is the resolution before us today is not about transparency,” Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.) said in his remarks. “It’s about control. It’s not about fairness, it’s about winning. It’s about following the facts, this resolution is about delivering results. You know how I know this? Because the resolution gives no proper way for how … [the] transferring of documents from the Intel committee to the Judiciary committee will happen. Doesn’t give a time frame.”
“They don’t agree with the result with the 2016 election,” Scalise said.
“This is Soviet-style rules,” he said about the resolution, “maybe in the Soviet Union you do something like this.”
Meanwhile, Democratic lawmakers said the resolution affords the president with more due process rights than provided to presidents in previous impeachment inquiries. Many members invoked the Constitution to argue the need for the impeachment inquiry, saying that their oath of office requires them to investigate the allegations against Trump.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) invoked the Founding Fathers of the United States constitution, saying that “what is at stake is our democracy” during the impeachment process.
“This constitution is the blueprint for our republic and not a monarchy,” she said, adding that that’s “what this vote is about.”
Similarly, Rep. Joe Morelle (D-N.Y.) said the “only goal is uncovering the truth.”
The impeachment inquiry is focused on allegations about Trump’s conduct during a call with Ukraine in July. House Democrats have accused the president of leveraging his office and withholding U.S. aid to Ukraine to obtain information on a political opponent—2020 Democratic candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden.
Trump has defended his request for Ukraine’s assistance to look into Biden’s dealings, saying that it was intended to investigate alleged corruption, not to look for information on a political opponent. In 2018, Biden boasted that he had pressured then-Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko to remove a prosecutor who was investigating a Ukrainian gas company, Burisma, where the former vice president’s son held a lucrative board position.
A transcript of the call, released by the White House on Sept. 25, revealed that Trump had asked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to look into Biden’s dealings in Ukraine but seemingly hadn’t pressured him.
Following the vote, the White House issued a statement criticizing Democrats for focusing on unimportant issues rather than working together to benefit the American people.
“The president has done nothing wrong, and the Democrats know it. Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats’ unhinged obsession with this illegitimate impeachment proceeding does not hurt President Trump; it hurts the American people,” the White House’s press secretary said in the statement. “The Democrats are choosing every day to waste time on a sham impeachment—a blatantly partisan attempt to destroy the president.”
The statement continued: “With today’s vote, Speaker Pelosi and the Democrats have done nothing more than enshrine unacceptable violations of due process into House rules. Speaker Pelosi, Chairman Schiff and the Democrats conducted secret, behind-closed-door meetings, blocked the administration from participating, and have now voted to authorize a second round of hearings that still fails to provide any due process whatsoever to the administration. The Democrats want to render a verdict without giving the administration a chance to mount a defense. That is unfair, unconstitutional, and fundamentally un-American.”
Jack Phillips contributed to this report.