On Thursday, the House of Representatives is scheduled to vote on a resolution that would formalize procedures in the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump after Democrats resisted for weeks calls from Republicans to make the process more transparent.
The legislation was unveiled on Tuesday.
The eight-page resolution introduced by Rep. James McGovern, D-Massachusetts, chairman of the House Committee on Rules, calls for Rep. Adam Schiff, D-California, chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, to hold open hearings as the investigation goes forward, providing majority and minority committee members or their staff equal time for questioning.
According to the resolution, Republicans would be able to request subpoenas, but those requests would be subject to a vote of the full committee.
Here are five takeaways from the resolution to be voted on by the House on Thursday:
1. The resolution "reaffirms the impeachment inquiry."
In the resolution, Democrats are making clear "that the investigating committees have been engaged in an impeachment inquiry and direct them to continue" the investigation.
2. The question of transparency
The Intelligence Committee is to make public transcripts of its depositions. The transcripts can include redactions "for classified or other sensitive information."
Any evidence discovered will be transmitted to the Judiciary Committee. Committee members will use that information for their proceedings.
3. Public hearings
Once public hearings begin, both the chair and the ranking member of the Intelligence Committee will be able to question witnesses. Both Democratic and Republican members and staff attorneys will have 45 minutes each to ask a witness questions. The questions will be asked in 5-minute increments.
4. How Trump participates
According to the resolution, Trump and/or his attorneys can participate by:
- Presenting their case and responding to evidence
- Submitting written requests for additional testimony or other evidence
- Attending hearings, including those held in executive session
- Raising an objection to testimony given
- Cross-examining witnesses
Also, the committee warns that “if the President unlawfully refuses to cooperate with Congressional requests, the Chair shall have the discretion to impose appropriate remedies, including by denying specific requests by the President or his counsel.”
5. The Judiciary Committee will review the evidence
After the inquiry is completed, the resolution says, the Judiciary Committee will review the evidence and will then recommend whether articles of impeachment should be recommended to the House.
The inquiry was launched on Sept. 24 after a whistleblower contacted members of Congress with concerns about a phone call Trump made in July to the president of Ukraine.
"The actions of the Trump presidency revealed a dishonorable fact of the president's betrayal of his oath of office, betrayal of our national security and betrayal of the integrity of our elections," Pelosi, D-California, said in announcing the beginning of the inquiry.
According to some, the phone call had the president leveraging his power to withhold $400 million in aid to Ukraine in exchange for information on former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter Biden. Trump, on the other hand, says the call congratulating Volodymyr Zelensky on becoming president of Ukraine was "perfect," and what he talked to the Ukrainian leader about has been misinterpreted.
Trump has claimed that Hunter Biden profited from an affiliation with a Ukrainian energy company when he sat on its board of directors. Trump says when Hunter Biden’s position on the board was threatened by a prosecutor in Ukraine looking into the company’s dealings, Joe Biden pressured Ukrainian officials to have the prosecutor fired.
Hunter Biden has said he used "poor judgment" in his business dealings with Ukraine but denied any wrongdoing in an interview with ABC News.
Neither Biden has been officially accused of wrongdoing. However, George Kent, a career State Department official, told a House committee this week that he raised concerns with a senior official in President Barack Obama's administration in 2015 over Hunter Biden's position on the board of the Ukrainian gas company. Kent said he told the official that Biden's involvement could present a conflict of interest for the administration.
About the Author