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Dems Hold Thursday Vote On Critical Impeachment Resolution: Here’s What You Need To Know

Courtesy of ZeroHedge View original post here.

After weeks of private hearing involving employees from the White House and State Department, the Democrats’ impeachment investigation is about to move into a far more public phase, following what’s likely to be a historic vote on Thursday. The House will call a vote on a resolution setting the rules for public impeachment proceedings. And if the count comes back as expected (that is, straight down party lines), the Dems will prevail, and the next round of hearings (this time, public ones) will be scheduled, according to the New York Times.

The vote also marks the first time that lawmakers will go on the record with their support for the inquiry, or opposition.

Under the proposed rules, President Trump’s legal team would be allowed to present a formal defense of the president during the hearings. And they would have the power to cross-examine witnesses once debate over impeachment begins, and submit proposals calling for additional witnesses.

Sources on Capitol Hill told the NYT, BBG and other media outlets that the resolution would call for a public phase to begin in three weeks. Though it wouldn’t put an end to the private hearings. The public hearings will largely be led by the Intelligence Committee and its Chairman Adam Schiff, one of the leaders of the impeachment inquiry and a favorite target of President Trump.

The resolution also sets the stage for the material gathered during the investigation phase to be turned over to the Judiciary Committee and Chairman Jerrold Nadler, another favorite Trump antagonist, who would hold additional hearings where Trump and/or his lawyers would be allowed to participate. Ultimately, the Judiciary Committee will be responsible for drawing up articles of impeachment.

Though the Dems’ rules allow the president pretty much all of the rights demanded by his legal team, there’s likely to still be squabbling between the Dems and Republicans, particularly over whether to call certain witnesses, like the still-anonymous whistleblower who first filed a complaint about possible quid-pro-quo surrounding the July 25 call between Trump and Ukrainian leader Zelensky.

The White House slammed the Dems’ resolution, saying that it only proved that the investigation had been an “illegitimate sham.” Under the resolution’s rules, said White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham, Trump wouldn’t be afforded due process until the proceedings were nearly finished.

Those are pretty much the basics of the resolution. Here’s a guide to what comes next, courtesy of NPR:

Open hearings

The resolution designates House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., as the point person to preside over any public hearings.

“The American people will hear firsthand about the President’s misconduct,” Schiff said in a statement on Monday, but he has not indicated which witnesses he would call.

Schiff and the top Republican on the panel, Devin Nunes, R-Calif., are the two lawmakers who would lead the questioning in hearings — but they can yield to their staff counsels. The bulk of the questioning during closed-door depositions conducted to date has been done by Democratic and Republican committee lawyers.

Republicans can request witnesses to appear at the open hearings and can request that subpoenas be approved, but those need to be approved by the majority.

Democrats have said they would like William Taylor to testify in open session. He is the top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine, and he gave a detailed account of the parallel foreign policy effort led by Rudy Giuliani, the president’s personal attorney, to leverage military assistance for investigations into former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter.

Committee public report

The resolution directs the Intelligence Committee to issue a report on its findings and recommendations and send the report to the House Judiciary Committee, which will consider any potential articles of impeachment. It also has to be publicly released. The report will be made in consultation with the House Foreign Affairs and Oversight committees — the two other panels that have been participating in the witness interviews so far.

It is also up to Schiff to publicly release any transcripts of closed-door testimony — potentially removing or blocking sensitive information.

Pelosi and most House Democrats have stressed that the current impeachment probe be narrowly focused on the issues around the Ukraine matter. But all the House panels investigating any potential impeachment issues are directed to send their evidence to the Judiciary Committee.

Judiciary hearing on articles of impeachment

The House Judiciary Committee is the panel that has jurisdiction over impeachment proceedings. Once the Intelligence Committee sends its report to the panel, it can begin the process of drafting articles of impeachment.

Top Democrats argue that the president’s alleged push to withhold military assistance for Ukraine — which Congress had already authorized — in order to secure a commitment for an investigation for his own domestic political benefit is grounds for an article of impeachment. But it’s unclear what the specific charge in the article would be.

Articles of impeachment are compared to an indictment, and the standard set forth in the Constitution is broad and at the discretion of the majority: “high crimes and misdemeanors.”

Schiff has made it clear that he does not plan to go to court to enforce subpoenas for testimony and documents from those administration officials who have refused to comply. Instead, he has maintained that those Trump officials “will be building a very powerful case against the president for obstruction — an article of impeachment based on obstruction.”

Judiciary markup and vote on articles of impeachment

The Judiciary Committee released its own procedures on Tuesday for how it will consider any articles of impeachment, separate from the House resolution.

Chairman Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., said in a written statement that the committee’s process confers “rights for the minority and for the President equal to those provided during the Nixon and Clinton inquiries.”

These include the ability of the president’s lawyers to receive copies of documents and evidence, to attend sessions and hearings when evidence is being presented, to question witnesses and to respond to the Democrats’ arguments.

Republicans have complained that the process allowed for the Judiciary Committee should also be allowed for the open Intelligence Committee hearings.

Full House vote on articles of impeachment

Once the Judiciary Committee completes its hearings and votes on any articles of impeachment, its report would go to the full House for a vote.

There is no timeline for these next steps in the House, but Democratic leaders have indicated that they would like to wrap up the process before the end of the year.

If the House passes the articles and votes to impeach, the process then heads to the Senate. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said that if the House approves articles and transmits them to the Senate, he will begin the process of holding a trial and ultimately a vote on whether to acquit or remove the president.

* * *

The vote is expected later in the day on Thursday, exactly when is still unclear. Anybody who wants to read the resolution in its entirety can find the full draft here.

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