The Slatest

House Judiciary Committee Set to Finally Formalize Impeachment Investigation

Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY) questions former Special Counsel Robert Mueller in the Rayburn House Office Building July 24, 2019 in Washington, D.C.
Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY) questions former Special Counsel Robert Mueller in the Rayburn House Office Building July 24, 2019 in Washington, D.C.
Win McNamee/Getty Images

The House Judiciary Committee is getting ready to vote as early as Wednesday to formalize the impeachment investigation into President Donald Trump. The resolution that will be up for a vote is set to lay out the procedures that will be used in the investigation with the goal of deciding by the end of the year whether to recommend articles of impeachment to the full House of Representatives. Although the probe has really been ongoing, the vote this coming week would set to increase the “officialness” of the investigation, a source tells Politico. At the very least, the vote would clear up the confusion in Democratic circles about whether the impeachment proceeding has actually been launched.

The investigation “is expected to follow the precedent set in 1974 over the committee’s procedures during then-President Richard Nixon’s impeachment proceedings,” CNN reports. To that end, the resolution will allow the House Judiciary Committee to hold hearings that have different rules from regular hearings because the panel is considering impeachment. For example, committee staff counsels would be allowed to question witnesses and allow more time for these questions.

As Democrats return to Washington with impeachment on the brain this week, they’re also set to broaden the investigation to go beyond the findings of former Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian election meddling. The New York Times explains:

Beyond the president’s efforts to impede the special counsel’s investigation, Democrats also plan to scrutinize his role in hush payments to two women who said they had affairs with him and reports that he dangled pardons to officials willing to break the law to implement his immigration policies. Democrats also demanded documents last week related to whether his resort properties illegally profited from government business.

“The central oversight perspective so far has been focused on the Mueller report,” said Representative Jamie Raskin, Democrat of Maryland and a former constitutional law professor who sits on the Judiciary Committee. “We need to broaden out the oversight work to get a complete picture 

The biggest challenge for Democrats now may be the calendar. There are only around 40 days of sessions left on the congressional calendar before the end of the year and there are lots of other issues to discuss. For now, at least 134 House Democrats support an impeachment inquiry, according to Reuters. And even though that’s a majority of the Democratic caucus, it still falls short of the 218 votes that would be needed to pass an impeachment resolution. And it seems clear there are deep doubts within Democratic leadership. Speaker Nancy Pelosi, for example, told colleagues last month that the public still “isn’t there on impeachment.”