House Democrats Just Announced the First Impeachment Inquiry Vote

WASHINGTON — Democrats will have their first vote related to their ongoing impeachment inquiry on Thursday, reversing course after insisting that such a vote was unnecessary.

President Trump and his congressional allies have repeatedly slammed the impeachment inquiry as a “witch hunt,” in part due to the lack of a formal House-wide vote.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif. announced the vote in a “dear colleague” letter to House Democrats.

“We are taking this step to eliminate any doubt as to whether the Trump Administration may withhold documents, prevent witness testimony, disregard duly authorized subpoenas, or continue obstructing the House of Representatives,” Pelosi said in the letter. “Nobody is above the law.”

Read: Trump Had a Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Impeachment Week

Democrats had earlier declined to hold a vote, correctly pointing out that the majority of the House can set impeachment rules as they see fit.

But Republicans argued the lack of a vote meant the proceedings were a sham. Despite lacking much legal merit, their complaints have carried a political bite, most notably during last week’s GOP-led takeover of the secure room in the Capitol basement where impeachment depositions are being held.

Read: House Republicans Threw a Pizza-Fueled Tantrum to Distract from the Damning Testimony Against Trump

The last two congressional impeachment investigations have held a vote, had open hearings and gave the minority the same investigative rights as the majority. Democrats are now doing two of those three things, though they have yet to commit to give Republicans subpoena power once they’re through the initial phase of the investigation. None of those things are constitutionally required, however.

The decision to hold a vote also signals that Democrats are moving full-steam ahead in their impeachment investigations. More witnesses are scheduled to testify to the impeachment inquiry this week as the House looks into allegations that President Trump sought to pressure Ukraine into publicly investigating his political opponents by withholding military aid.

The House is expected to vote on the measure on Thursday. Its exact language hasn’t been released yet, but Pelosi’s letter said it will establish procedures for future open hearings (to date they’ve been behind closed doors, authorize the disclosure of deposition transcripts from the committees’ previous interviews, and outline how the evidence will be given to the House Judiciary Committee, the committee responsible for introducing the actual articles of impeachment. Pelosi also says the vote will set forth “due process rights” for Trump, though it’s unclear what exactly that will entail.

Cover: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif., speaks at the 2019 Democratic women’s leadership forum, Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon