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A summer recess did little to quell the ardor of lawmakers seeking President Trump’s impeachment, as House Democrats on Monday laid out the scope of their case and were on track to take the first formal vote on the Judiciary Committee’s impeachment investigation this week.
Based on the text of the proposed resolution, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, New York Democrat, will be able to form subcommittees to review any evidence they collect to lay the groundwork on whether or not to recommend full impeachment articles to the House. It also gives lawmakers and committee staff more time with witnesses and makes clear that the president’s legal team will have the right to review and respond to some of the materials.
The resolution’s authors said Monday that the largely technical measure closely tracks the procedural moves that ultimately led to articles of impeachment against Presidents Nixon and Clinton.
But the impeachment drama continues to pose a political dilemma for the House Democrats. A majority of the caucus now wants to move ahead with at least an inquiry to decide whether to impeach Mr. Trump, but a significant number of moderate Democrats fear the exercise will prove futile and harmful to their reelection prospects.
Political observers also say there is virtually no chance that the Republican-dominated Senate would go along with a push to remove Mr. Trump from office.
“The adoption of these additional procedures is the next step in that process and will help ensure our impeachment hearings are informative to Congress and the public, while providing the President with the ability to respond to evidence presented against him,” Mr. Nadler said in a statement. “We will not allow Trump’s continued obstruction to stop us from delivering the truth to the American people.”
A surge of House Democrats came forward during Congress’ summer recess. Now more than 130 out of a total 235 support an impeachment inquiry. House Democrats will huddle Tuesday morning for their first caucus reunion since the five-week break, and the impeachment question is almost certain to be on the agenda.
Despite the growing support, House Speaker Pelosi, California Democrat, has not publicly shifted her stance against moving forward with impeachment. She has pushed for a methodical approach to investigations on several fronts while her troops work on their legislative agenda.
A senior Democratic aide, though, told The Washington Times that Mrs. Pelosi supports the Judiciary Committee’s resolution and plans to keep the investigation open.
House Democrats continue to investigate any ties between President Trump and Russia, even though special prosecutor Robert Mueller found insufficient evidence to accuse the Trump campaign of conspiring with Russian agents in 2016. The Mueller report omitted any firm conclusion on whether Mr. Trump attempted to obstruct justice by interfering with the investigation.
Democrats are also exploring whether Mr. Trump has run afoul of the Constitution by using the office of the presidency for personal financial gain.
The committee will use this resolution Thursday for its first formal vote on the impeachment issue.
Mr. Nadler has been embracing the investigation as formal impeachment proceedings throughout the past few weeks in public interviews and in arguments in federal court.
The committee is set for a blockbuster hearing Sept. 17. Mr. Nadler has demanded the presence of several former top Trump aides — including former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski — who the special counsel’s report said were involved in efforts to thwart the investigations.
Although the resolution focuses mostly on findings in the Mueller report on Russia, the committee has expanded its investigation to include potential violations of the Constitution’s emoluments clause, which deals with Mr. Trump’s personal business empire.
Democrats announced late last month that they were looking into Mr. Trump’s offer to host next year’s summit of the Group of Seven leading industrial nations at his Doral resort in Miami. They also are investigating Vice President Mike Pence’s recent stay at a Trump-owned property while on an official visit to Ireland.
Separately, the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, the Oversight and Reform Committee, and the Foreign Affairs Committee launched a joint investigation into allegations that the Trump administration is pressuring the Ukrainian government to help his 2020 reelection bid.
The committee chairs contend that the administration is using security assistance aid as leverage to tip the scales in a case against the son of former Vice President Joseph R. Biden, the Democratic front-runner in the 2020 presidential election, and prosecute Ukrainians who worked against former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort. The joint investigation doesn’t explicitly link to the Democrats’ push for impeachment.
Rep. Doug Collins of Georgia, the ranking Republican on the Judiciary Committee, accused Democrats of circumventing the rules.
“Judiciary Democrats are trying to pull a fast one on Americans,” he tweeted. “They know they don’t have the votes for the whole House to impeach, so they’re trying to adopt committee rules to govern an “impeachment investigation” the House hasn’t even authorized.”
While public opinion polls show shallow popular support for impeachment, liberal activists have been pushing for stronger action for months and even declared the congressional summer break “Impeachment August.”
One liberal advocacy group, Credo Action, specifically bashed Mrs. Pelosi for slowing down the process.
“Without Chairman Nadler setting a date for a vote on articles of impeachment, it’s clear that Speaker Pelosi and Democratic Leadership are still putting the brakes on impeachment. It’s beyond time for the House to do more than small-bore resolutions to give them cover,” Credo Action campaign manager Thais Marques said in a statement.
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