House votes to formalize impeachment inquiry
Rep. Adam Schiff, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, described his thinking about today's vote to formalize the impeachment inquiry.
“We take no joy in having to move down this road and proceed with the impeachment inquiry, but neither do we shrink from it," he said.
Schiff said Democrats "recognize the seriousness of this undertaking” and that they have been “compelled by the circumstances to move forward.”
“When a President abuses his or her office, when a President sacrifices the national interest, when a President refuses to defend the Constitution and does so for the purpose of advancing a personal or political agenda, the founders provided a remedy. I make no pre-judgement as to whether that remedy will be warranted when we finish these hearings. I will wait until all the facts are put forward,” Schiff said.
"We will undertake this duty with the seriousness that it deserves and to the best of our ability," he added.
Echoing Schiff, House Rules Committee chair Jim McGovern described today as "a sad and somber time in the history of the United States of America."
"Everyone on this stage agrees we have put into place a fair series of procedures to govern how this process moves forward," he added. “I’m proud of the resolution we put together. I believe it will withstand the test of time.”
House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff laid out how the impeachment inquiry will proceed moving forward.
The inquiry will move to "open hearings" where "staff counsel" will be permitted to do "sustained questioning for up to 45 minutes per side" of witnesses, according to Schiff.
He said questioning by counsel will be followed by "member questioning."
Schiff also discussed the closed-door depositions that have been taking place, noting that "over 100 members have been eligible to participate" in the depositions by the committees running the inquiry.
"I should tell you that notwithstanding those that have complained about lack of access to the depositions, most of the members who have been permitted to attend have failed to attend, have not made use of the availability of attending each and every deposition," Schiff said.
The resolution passed today will allow Schiff "to begin releasing the transcripts of the depositions" that have been happening behind closed doors, he said.
"I think that you will see when those are released just what equal opportunity members of both parties have had," Schiff said.
GOP House Minority Whip Rep. Steve Scalise blasted the procedural resolution on the impeachment inquiry that passed today in the House.
Scalise pointed out that two Democrats had joined Republicans in voting against the resolution.
"I think it's important to note, when you see that not only did every single Republican reject the Soviet-style impeachment process, but we were even joined by Democrats who couldn't stand it anymore," the Louisiana Republican said.
House Minority Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy also described the vote on the floor as bipartisan, even though only Jeff Van Drew of New Jersey and Collin Peterson voted against it.
"In all the hearings, there's nothing compelling, nothing overwhelming, so the speaker should follow her own words on what bipartisan vote on that floor and in the sham that has been putting this country through this nightmare. That's exactly what this vote shows today," he said.
House Republican Conference Chair Liz Cheney called the Democrats' impeachment inquiry into President Trump a "fundamentally tainted and unfair" process.
Before the House vote, Republicans and the White House claimed the impeachment inquiry was illegitimate because it did not receive a full House vote.
They are staying on this message even after the vote.
"This is a process that has been fundamentally tainted," Cheney said. "The President has had no rights inside these hearings, his counsel has not been able to be present, so from them now to claim that they're going to open this up — which, by the way, the resolution does not do."
"They cannot go back and fix what is a fundamentally tainted and unfair record," she added.
Reps. Jeff Van Drew of New Jersey and Collin Peterson of Minnesota were the only two Democrats to vote against the impeachment resolution today.
In a statement, Van Drew said he voted against the resolution because he believes "this inquiry will further divide the country tearing it apart at the seams and will ultimately fail in the Senate."
Van Drew added that now that the impeachment inquiry is "moving forward" he will be "making a judgment call based on all the evidence presented by these investigations."
Ivanka Trump, a senior adviser to the President and his daughter, just tweeted a quote from former President Thomas Jefferson after the House voted to formalize the impeachment inquiry into her father.
She quoted a letter from Jefferson to his own daughter, Martha:
President Trump's campaign called the just-passed House impeachment inquiry resolution "an attempt to remove a duly-elected president for strictly political reasons."
"Today’s vote merely proves that the entire impeachment process was a sham from the beginning," Trump's 2020 campaign manager, Brad Parscale, said in a statement.
He added: "Voters will punish Democrats who support this farce."
Here's the full campaign statement:
“Every American can see this for what it is: an attempt to remove a duly-elected president for strictly political reasons by a strictly partisan, illegitimate process. Today’s vote merely proves that the entire impeachment process was a sham from the beginning and Nancy Pelosi can’t legitimize it after the fact. We can all read the transcript of the Ukraine phone call for ourselves and see that there was no quid pro quo and no basis at all for overturning the legitimate results of the 2016 election. Voters will punish Democrats who support this farce and President Trump will be easily re-elected.”
Moments after the House passed the resolution formalizing the impeachment investigation, President Trump tweeted: “The Greatest Witch Hunt In American History!”
Trump has tweeted numerous times this morning on the impeachment inquiry leading up to the vote.
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi voted yes on today's resolution formalizing the impeachment inquiry into President Trump, CNN's Dana Bash reported.
As Bash explained, House Speakers usually don't vote — and Pelosi was making a point with her ballot today.
Here's how Bash put it:
"I was told she actually voted yes. And it is the tradition of the speakers of the House to actually not vote. They usually don't vote on legislation or on resolutions unless they want to make a point. She wanted to make a point — both symbolically by sitting in the chair and with her vote — that she is all in on this and that is a big shift.
In addition to her vote, Pelosi presided over the House today. She usually does not.