House panel to hold vote on defining parameters of impeachment investigation

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The House Judiciary Committee will vote Thursday on a resolution to define the parameters of its impeachment investigation into President Donald Trump, the panel announced Monday.

As CNN previously reported, the resolution will formalize the committee’s probe, laying out the ground rules for potential impeachment hearings as part of the investigation that House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler says will determine whether the committee introduces articles of impeachment against the President.

The steps that the committee will take with its resolution on Thursday are largely procedural, but they nevertheless represent a step forward for the panel’s impeachment investigation, after the committee argued in court filings earlier this summer it did not need the full House to vote on a formal impeachment inquiry.

Democratic aides on the House Judiciary Committee said Monday that the committee’s aim is to recommend articles of impeachment by the end of the year, saying there is “no question” that the committee is now engaged in an impeachment investigation.

“I think it’s everyone’s goal by the end of the year but it’s not a hard-and-fast deadline,” according to one Democratic aide. “But that’s our goal.”

It’s Nadler’s “aspirational goal” to decide on articles of impeachment by year’s end, the aide added.

What’s complicated matters are the fights in the court: Namely the Democratic efforts to force former White House counsel Don McGahn to testify about allegations that Trump tried to thwart special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe. A district court is expected to rule in November, and the appeals process could take weeks or even months longer. The aides would not say if they would wait until the McGahn court process is complete to vote on articles of impeachment.

“We will let it play out and decide where to go,” another Democratic aide said.

The committee released the text of its five-page resolution on Monday, which was titled, “Resolution for Investigative Procedures,” detailing procedures for the committee to follow in its impeachment investigation, including:

  • Nadler may designate any full committee or subcommittee hearing as part of the committee’s impeachment investigation.
  • Staff will be allowed to question witnesses for an additional hour in committee hearings, divided between Democrats and Republicans.
  • The President’s counsel can respond in writing to information and testimony provided to the committee in a public setting, and the chairman can invite the President’s lawyers to view protected information.
  • Grand-jury material and other documents obtained in the investigation will be protected under the committee’s executive session rules.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi supports the resolution introduced by the Judiciary Committee, according to an aide to the speaker. Last month on a conference call with her members, Pelosi said the public isn’t there yet on impeachment, according to an aide who was on the call at the time. But she has given a green light to the House Judiciary Committee’s moves in court filings to state that its investigation is intended to decide whether to move on impeachment.

Republicans argue that the committee isn’t really in an impeachment investigation at all.

“Judiciary Democrats are trying to pull a fast one on Americans” tweeted Rep. Doug Collins of Georgia, the top Judiciary Committee Republican. “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.”

The new resolution that the committee will approve Thursday will formalize procedures for how hearings will be conducted now that impeachment is under consideration. The first time that this will be tested will be on September 17 when former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski testifies as part of the committee’s investigation into allegations of obstruction of justice. Two other former White House aides, Rob Porter and Rick Dearborn, have been subpoenaed to testify that day but it’s unclear if the White House will try to block their testimony.

As more House Democrats publicly support an impeachment inquiry, aides said Monday that is exactly what the House Judiciary Committee is doing.

“One hundred percent it is correct to say we are in an impeachment investigation,” one Democratic aide.

Heading into a crucial fall session, the aides confirmed CNN’s previous reporting that the committee plans to broaden out its impeachment inquiry beyond the findings of the Mueller report to also examine questions about foreign payments to Trump’s businesses that could violate the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution, reports that the President dangled pardons to officials if they broke the law to carry out his immigration policies and hush-money payments made during the 2016 campaign.

“We have not seen a President that has engaged in widespread comprehensive misconduct in many decades,” an aide said.

By Jeremy Herb and Manu Raju, CNN

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