TwoHouseDemocrats broke ranks with their party leadershipon Thursdays highly-contentious vote for a resolution setting the rules for the impeachment inquiry into President Trump.
The resolution passed 232-196but lacked votes fromReps. Jeff Van Drew, D-N.J., who has long expressed skepticism about impeachment, and Collin Peterson, D-Minn, whose districtTrumpwon by 31 points. NoRepublicans voted for the resolution, signaling that the HouseGOP still stands firmly behind Trump as he comes under heavy fire.
At the end of the day well have the same president and same candidateand a failed impeachment process, and the only difference would be that the president will have been exonerated of charges,Van Drew said in a statement to Fox News.
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House committees have held nearly a dozen depositions of witnesses who have testified behind closed doorsabout their knowledge of a July 25 phone call between Trump andUkrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. Its been alleged, by an anonymous whistleblower, among others, that Trump sought to persuade the foreign leader to open an investigation into 2020 presidential candidate andformer Vice President Joe Biden and his son Huntersbusiness dealings in Ukraine in exchange for military aid to that nation.
Van Drew said that although he feels concerned with many of the allegations related to the president, he doesnt think its enough to warrant Trumpsremoval from office.
Peterson is one of two Democrats remaining in the House who voted to authorize impeachment against Bill Clinton in 1998.
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Other Democrats said their support for Thursdays resolution was not necessarily an indication of how they would vote on possible impeachment articles. Freshman Rep. Kendra Horn, D-Okla.,announced she would vote for the resolution while making clear it was not a vote for impeachment -- just to authorize the rules for impeachment hearings. Trump carried Horns district by 13 points in 2016. Horn won her seat last fall in what some observers called an upset.
Republicans have kept their arguments against impeachment largely to the process Democrats have used to pursue it, saying thata rules resolution like the one passed Thursday was used to authorize impeachment proceedings against both Richard Nixon andClinton and should be passed this time around as well. There is no requirement in the Constitution or House Rules, however, requiring such a resolution to authorize an impeachment inquiry.
In a letter to Democratic colleagues Monday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said she was bringing the rules resolution to the floor specifically to take that talking point away from Republicans.
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We are taking this step to eliminate any doubt as to whether the Trump administration may withhold documents, prevent witness testimony, disregard duly authorized subpoenas, or continue obstructing the House of Representatives, Pelosi said.
Republican representatives, however, have not been satisfied with the move, saying that the impeachment inquiry is already discredited by the secret hearings and bias against Trump from Democrats.
Its clear Pelosi needs to declare a mistrial, Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La., said Tuesday as he and Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, accused House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., of stopping a witness from answering certain Republican questions during a deposition. This has been a tainted process from the start.What happened today confirms even worse just how poorly Adam Schiff is handling this process, denying the ability for Republicans to even ask basic questions that are critical to the heart of whether or not a President of the United States is impeached.
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Additionally, on the House floor on Thursday, Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla., said Republicans offered 17 amendments to the impeachment resolution and not one was accepted. Rep. Ross Spano, R-Fla., also criticized the resolution, notingRepublicans will be unable to subpoena witnesses without the approval of Schiff, echoinga criticism other Republicans have leveled about the impeachmentrules resolution released Tuesday.
Rep. Justin Amash, I-Mich., who left the Republican caucus this year after a longstanding tiff with Trump and much of the GOP,also voted for the resolution Thursday.
Fox News Chad Pergram, Vandana Rambaran and Alex Pappascontributed to this report.B: