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Democrats unveil impeachment procedures against Trump

WASHINGTON (The Hill) — House Democrats on Tuesday unveiled a resolution to outline the next phase of their impeachment inquiry that will bring their case before the public after weeks of closed-door witness testimony.

The resolution, unveiled by House Rules Committee Chairman Jim McGovern (D-Mass.), sets up procedures for open hearings by the Intelligence Committee and releasing witness testimony.

It also allows Republicans to request witness testimony and documents, similar to previous impeachment inquiries. But Democrats on the Intelligence panel still have the ability to block the requests.

The resolution is expected to hit the House floor on Thursday.

The leaders of the committees involved in the impeachment process — House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), Foreign Affairs Chairman Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.), Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) and acting Oversight Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) — said that the resolution will prepare lawmakers for the next stage of the inquiry.

“The evidence we have already collected paints the picture of a president who abused his power by using multiple levers of government to press a foreign country to interfere in the 2020 election. Following in the footsteps of previous impeachment inquiries, the next phase will move from closed depositions to open hearings where the American people will learn firsthand about the president’s misconduct,” they said in a joint statement.

The resolution further outlines the format for the upcoming public hearings, which will provide for extended time for questioning and allow committee staff to cross-examine witnesses. Only House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) and the panel’s ranking Republican, Rep. Devin Nunes (Calif.), or committee employees are allowed to ask questions.

That would be a departure from the typical format of congressional hearings, in which members of each party alternate with five minutes of questioning.

The format is similar to how lawmakers on the three committees leading the impeachment inquiry have been conducting the depositions behind closed doors in a secure facility in the sub-basement of the Capitol for the past month.

Republicans would have to provide “detailed written justification” to suggest subpoenas or request witness testimony. But Democrats have veto power to block Republicans’ requests with a party-line committee vote.

The resolution also directs the House Intelligence Committee to issue a report on its findings and recommendations.

The resolution further outlines the process for transferring materials to the House Judiciary Committee, which would be tasked with formally drafting and approving articles of impeachment.

The Judiciary Committee would be authorized to “promulgate additional procedures as it deems necessary for the fair and efficient conduct of committee hearings.”

The resolution is not meant to formally authorize the impeachment inquiry that is already ongoing, as Republicans and the White House had been demanding for weeks. But it does state that the relevant committees involved in investigating the Trump administration “are directed to continue their ongoing investigations as part of the existing House of Representatives inquiry into whether sufficient grounds exist for the House of Representatives to exercise its Constitutional power to impeach Donald John Trump, President of the United States of America.”

FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Trump departs for Wisconsin from the White House in Washington
FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Donald Trump waves prior to departing on a trip to Wisconsin from the White House in Washington, U.S., October 24, 2018. REUTERS/Cathal McNaughton/File Photo – RC1C71EBBBD0

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