The Big Picture On The Impeachment Inquiry House Vote

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Voting buttons in the U.S. House of Representatives chamber are seen in Washington, D.C. (Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images)
Voting buttons in the U.S. House of Representatives chamber are seen in Washington, D.C. (Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images)

A presidential historian's view on the House vote on the impeachment inquiry and this moment for the country.


Jeffrey Engeldirector of the Center for Presidential History at Southern Methodist University. Co-author of "Impeachment: An American History." (@jeffreyaengel)

From The Reading List

The Atlantic: "Why Republicans Are Complaining About the Impeachment Process" — "There’s a reason Republicans have been making a great fuss about the process of the impeachment inquiry over the past few days. Unwilling, or more likely unable, to mount any substantive defenses of President Donald Trump’s behavior with regard to Ukraine, members have instead assailed the way Democrats are conducting the inquiry.

"You may doubt the sincerity of these complaints—more on that in a moment—but they have grabbed attention because they are intuitively persuasive. Thus far, the inquiry has taken place behind closed doors, with only opening statements and secondhand accounts of interviews reaching the public. It would be both a miscarriage of justice and political malpractice for Democrats to vote to impeach without public proceedings. The trick is that Democrats have said all along that they intend to have a public process.

"On Wednesday, GOP House members staged an odd maneuver in which they occupied the room—the Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility, or SCIF, in acronym-obsessed D.C. jargon— where Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Laura Cooper was to be interviewed under subpoena as part of the inquiry, delaying (though not preventing) her testimony. On Thursday, Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, a steadfast Trump shield, announced that he would introduce a statement criticizing the House Democratic process."

FiveThirtyEight: "Why Democrats Are Moving Quickly With Impeachment" — "House Democrats are running out of time. With a little over three months to go before the beginning of primary season, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced on Monday that the House will hold its first formal vote of the impeachment inquiry into President Trump on Thursday, signaling that the investigation, which has taken place almost entirely behind closed doors so far, is about to go public. This is an important step in expediting the proceedings, especially if Democrats are trying to avoid an impeachment process that stretches into an election year. But it’s also a sign that even after a judge ruled that their investigation was legal, Democrats aren’t waiting on the courts to help bolster their inquiry.

"This might seem like an odd capitulation, considering the courts could help Democrats obtain testimony from witnesses who have thus far refused to cooperate, including a former White House official who recently asked a judge to weigh in on whether he needs to comply with a House subpoena. And several experts told me that Trump’s claims of immunity for his aides are something of a stretch legally. But relying on the courts is also not without its risks, because reaching a final decision could take months, and even then their testimony wouldn’t be guaranteed. So Democrats may be gambling that it’s worth leaving some stones unturned to keep the impeachment process from stretching into an election year, at which point Republicans might be able to make the argument more successfully that the voters should decide Trump’s fate.

"And Democrats are on a very tight timeline. Behind-the-scenes testimony is currently scheduled to stretch into November, which means even with the floor vote scheduled for this week, it’s difficult to imagine any scenario in which Democrats will be able to vote on impeachment by Thanksgiving, as some lawmakers originally suggested. Public hearings, which will include highlights from the private testimony, could happen soon, but could also last several weeks, depending on the number of witnesses who are called to testify."

NBC News: "Read the full text of the House resolution on Trump impeachment process" — "The House is expected to vote Thursday on a resolution detailing the procedure for moving forward with the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump.

"Read the full text of the resolution, released Tuesday."

This segment aired on October 31, 2019.


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