WASHINGTON — The U.S. House on Thursday voted to formalize its impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump.
Lawmakers adopted a resolution that lays out procedures for the inquiry that is already taking place in the House. That investigation is centered on whether the president abused his power by attempting to pressure the president of Ukraine to investigate Trump’s political opponent.
The measure passed largely along partisan lines by a vote of 232-196, with no Republicans backing the resolution. One independent, Justin Amash of Michigan, voted in favor of the resolution and two Democrats voted against it.
Democrats hailed the resolution as a roadmap that will provide for a fair and transparent process, while Republicans supportive of the president assailed the effort as a political attack.
“What is at stake in all of this is nothing less than our democracy,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said ahead of the vote. “Sadly, this is not any cause for any glee or comfort. This is something that is very solemn.”
House Democratic leadership had previously announced a formal inquiry, but held a floor vote in part to combat complaints from Republicans that the full chamber hadn’t been allowed to vote. Still, Thursday’s vote is unlikely to reduce the partisan fighting over the process.
Trump wrote on Twitter Thursday morning, “The Impeachment Hoax is hurting our Stock Market. The Do Nothing Democrats don’t care!” He added later, “The Greatest Witch Hunt In American History!”
Trump’s critics in the House insist that the president’s behavior and their constitutional obligations have driven them to pursue their investigation.
“The House impeachment inquiry has discovered a substantial body of evidence that the president of the United States has violated the Constitution by placing his political interests above the interests of the country, thereby putting both our democracy and the nation’s security in jeopardy,” said Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.). “In light of this evidence, the House of Representatives must fully investigate.”
Rep. Joe Neguse (D-Colo.) said the vote marks “a serious and solemn day for our country.”
The House’s impeachment inquiry, he added, “has exposed the truth and uncovered significant evidence that the president abused his power. To honor the oath to defend the Constitution that each of us took, we must move forward with this impeachment inquiry.”
His colleague, Rep. Diana DeGette (D-Colo.), said on Twitter that the president “has been accused of abusing his power, betraying the American people and undermining our national security. He’s openly invited some of our biggest adversaries to intervene in our elections and has blocked Congress’s every attempt to get to the truth.”
Republican lawmakers continued to decry the process, drawing criticisms from Democrats that they’re making procedural arguments to avoid discussing the president’s behavior.
“No matter what is said by the other side today, this is a dark day and a cloud has fallen on this House,” said Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.), the top Republican on the House Judiciary Committee.
“The resolution before us today is not about transparency, it’s about control. It’s not about fairness, it’s about winning,” he said.
On Twitter this morning, Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colo.) called today’s vote “nothing more than a Halloween trick to try to give this sham some credibility.”
The impeachment inquiry, he said has been “without due process, fairness or transparency for over a month. No American should be subjected to this kind of unfairness.”
Buck’s fellow Coloradan and GOP Rep. Doug Lamborn also took to Twitter to blast the vote in Halloween-themed terms. “This is a ‘trick’ for the American people, and a ‘treat’ to our enemies as the full resources of the House Intelligence Committee are focused on impeachment, not national security.”
Some moderate Democrats who voted for the inquiry stressed that their support for the investigation does not indicate how they may ultimately vote on articles of impeachment.
House lawmakers could vote as soon as this year on articles of impeachment against the president. If approved, the articles would be the subject of a trial in the Senate, where the GOP-led chamber is unlikely to vote to convict the president.