'Follow the facts, apply the law, be guided by the Constitution'

Near party line vote is expected on rules for the impeachment process; rules direct House committees 'to continue their ongoing investigations'

Alan Fram and Matthew Daly

Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — Democrats set the stage Wednesday for certain House approval of the ground rules lawmakers will use as they consider impeaching President Donald Trump. The chamber braced for a near-party line vote in its first showdown over the inquiry.

There was no doubt that the Democratic-controlled chamber would approve the eight pages of rules on Thursday. But it was unclear exactly how many defectors each party would suffer.

"As much as this president flaunts the Constitution, we are going to protect it," House Rules Committee Chairman James McGovern, D-Mass., said as his panel debated the procedures.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy told The Associated Press that the package creates "much more of a politically closed system than an open system."

That echoed Republican complaints that the Democratic-run process has been secretive and tilted against them. Democrats say their plan follows how impeachment efforts against Presidents Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton were run.

The investigation is focused on Trump's efforts to push Ukraine to investigate his Democratic political opponents by withholding military aid and an Oval Office meeting craved by the country's new president.

Both parties' leaders have been rounding up votes as Thursday's roll call approaches, with each side eager to come as close to unanimity as possible.

Republicans said a solid GOP "no" vote would signal to the Senate that the Democratic push is a partisan crusade against a president they have never liked. McCarthy, R-Calif., said he's unaware of any Republican even "leaning toward voting for it."

If the House impeaches Trump, the Senate would decide whether to remove him from office.

Rep. Fred Upton, R-Mich., a moderate who some thought might be open to backing the Democratic rules, said he would oppose them. He complained about the secrecy that Democrats have used and said he would not been pressured by GOP leaders or Trump, with whom he had a drink at a Republican fundraiser Tuesday night.

"You really can't roll back the clock" from the time the investigation began last month, Upton said.

Democrats were also hoping to stay united to demonstrate solidarity from their most left-wing elements to their most moderate members.

"We all want to just follow the facts, apply the law, be guided by the Constitution, present the truth to the American people, and a vote tomorrow is a step in that direction," said Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., a member of the Democratic leadership.

He said he believed "the overwhelming majority" of Democrats would back the measure.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., decided to have the vote following weeks of GOP claims that the inquiry was invalid because the chamber has not voted to formally commence the work.

The rules lay out the process by which the House Intelligence Committee — now leading the investigation by deposing diplomats and other officials behind closed doors — would transition to public hearings.

That panel would issue a report and release transcripts of the closed-door interviews it has been conducting with diplomats and other officials with connections to Trump's interactions with Ukraine.

The Judiciary Committee would then decide whether to recommend that the House impeach Trump — a finding that he should be removed from office.

Republicans could only issue subpoenas for witnesses to appear if the entire panel approved them — in effect giving Democrats veto power over such requests by the GOP.

Attorneys for Trump could participate in the Judiciary Committee proceedings. But in a bid for leverage, panel Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., would be allowed to deny "specific requests" by Trump representatives if the White House continues refusing to provide documents or witnesses sought by Democratic investigators.

The rules also direct House committees "to continue their ongoing investigations" of Trump.

Top Democrats think that language will shield their members from weeks of Republican complaints that the inquiry has been invalid because the House had not formally voted to begin that work.

Republican have said the House took such votes before the impeachments of Presidents Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton. Democrats have said there is no constitutional provision or House rule requiring such a vote.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., used a floor speech to go after Pelosi and House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., saying that "instead of setting a high bar, House Democrats seem determined to set a new low."

McConnell said the resolution would deny the "most basic rights of due process" to Trump such as having his lawyer participate in closed-door depositions by the committee.

Democrats compare the committee's role in the investigation to a fact-finding grand jury proceeding in which the accused does not have rights to counsel.

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Associated Press writers Andrew Taylor and Lisa Mascaro contributed to this report.

Comments (1)
No. 1-1
blu2cloud
blu2cloud

'Follow the facts, apply the law, be guided by the Constitution' – sounds really easy for a good & just outcome. The English, when it comes to the written word in their own language are soooo, articulate, every word seems to clear all doubt. Their movies are like that too, illusions that put one's mind in fantasy land. Everything so crystal clear & simple to understand. Follow the facts – wow for the indigenous facts have always been precise until meeting with the English & Dutch then written facts were made muddy by words until facts were no longer understood in the same way by different individuals. Facts from fiction in politics takes years to sort out. Speaking with a forked tongue was used many times to describe what the European said in words & writing in contrast to his actions. His actions were usually 180 degrees from his words. Apply the law – do they mean the law for indigenous or law for Europeans, the law for the poor or law for the rich, law for Blacks or law for Whites, law for Mexican & Indian or law for Caucasian? No matter what “law” there is usually a double standard. Be guided by the Constitution – again, written words by the English & Dutch (with a few Jews tagging along). They wrote the Constitution & amendments because they loved that the indigenous lived in this manner they wrote down how they understood indigenous unwritten laws. This was easy to fall in love with such ways of life and then to write them down for all to follow from that point on, right? However, there was no way in hell that these evil humanity from the east could possibly do an about face and immediately start to live this way and just program themselves to live in this fashion as the indigenous had been doing for centuries. They had no time to practice or train themselves, they came from countries that were brutal, cruel, and treated those without like animals. They were war mongers and most countries in Europe had huge assembled armies because they were so used to attacking each other – they needed tremendous armies. Nope these guys didn't just do an about face and follow what they wrote, impossible. In fact these foreigners brought their system of living over here – cut throat, slavery, brutality, genocide, mass incarceration of poor. Oh, the list could go on and on but what's the point. We all know their words were BS then as their words are BS now. They're corrupt & continue to lie, cheat, murder & steal we live in a horrible treacherous world of the European tax, slavery system not a continuation of indigenous laws. Only recent generations have learned a small portion of indigenous ways – some are authentically concerned for our earth, but it's too little, too late! These greedy war mongers have diseased the globe & caused so much chaos & destruction, not only to indigenous humanity all around but to the earth & her precious resources.