Democratic Rep. John Garamendi of California on Wednesday said it’s time for the House of Representatives to hold a formal, full chamber vote on opening an impeachment inquiry – a move that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has so far resisted.
“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,” Garamendi, who represents California, told CNN’s Poppy Harlow, adding that he is sure the votes would be in place to support the inquiry.
Garamendi’s comments follow a letter from President Donald Trump’s lawyers sent to congressional Democrats stating the President and his administration won’t cooperate with the House’s ongoing impeachment inquiry and arguing the proceedings amount to an illegitimate effort to overturn the 2016 presidential election results. Pelosi has said that Democrats don’t need to take a vote and has shown little interest in doing so after she announced last month the House would open the probe, accusing the White House of trying to play politics and arguing that House rules don’t require a vote.
So far, Democrats have issued a number of subpoenas in their probe, including to US Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland after the State Department blocked his scheduled testimony to Congress on Tuesday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, the White House, the Pentagon and Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s personal attorney who is at the center of the inquiry.
If the administration wants to fight, Garamendi told Harlow, “let us arm ourselves completely and totally with the full power of Congress” to obtain the information lawmakers are seeking. He added that Congress should use its authority to enforce its ability to compel uncooperative witnesses to testify through its ability to hold them in contempt.
“With regard to inherent contempt, I have been for that all along,” he said. “I think that when the witnesses come and they simply refuse to answer questions, I think it’s time to call in the sergeant of arms, march them off to a little jail, which we do happen to have in one of the rooms of the Capitol and let them there and cool off for a while.”
Garamendi added later, “I think we ought to be prepared to go all out on this.”
Trump is facing an impeachment inquiry related to his July 25 phone call with Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky – a call in which he pressed his Ukrainian counterpart to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter, despite there being no evidence of wrong doing by either, according to a White House-released transcript of the communication. The House, though, may be considering articles of impeachment against Trump that go further than the Ukraine issue, the top House lawyer said in federal court Tuesday.
CNN’s Devan Cole, Jeremy Herb, Manu Raju, Pamela Brown and Katelyn Polantz contributed to this story.