Donald Trump and his allies spent weeks arguing that the U.S. House had to hold a floor vote to move forward with the presidential impeachment process. As of this morning, that’s exactly what’s happened.
The House passed a resolution on Thursday approving procedures for its impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump, opening a new and public phase of the investigation.
The vote, 232 to 196, was largely along party lines and Republicans objected, alleging that the Democratic inquiry is a farce that has been improperly conducted behind closed doors. House Democrats are now expected to begin holding public hearings in the next few weeks to present testimony against Trump.
Nancy Pelosi presided over the vote – a rare move for a speaker of the House.
Voting in the majority were 231 House Democrats and the chamber’s sole independent (Michigan’s Justin Amash). Voting against the resolution were 194 Republicans and two Democrats (Minnesota’s Collin Peterson and New Jersey’s Jeff Van Drew, both of whom represent “red” districts.)
The full roll call is online here. Note, four members did not vote, and there are currently three vacancies in the chamber.
Not a single GOP member broke ranks, which strikes me as arguably the most striking element of this historic occasion. The New Yorker’s Susan Glasser noted this morning that it’s “fascinating that of all these dozens of Republican House members, none of them – not one – makes the calculation that history will judge them harshly for picking Donald Trump.”
They know about the abuses. They know about Trump’s quid-pro-quo schemes. They know the sitting president helped hatch a plan that tied military aid for a vulnerable ally to a political scheme intended to hurt his domestic opponents.
But literally every House Republican who voted this morning sided with the White House anyway.
I’ve been thinking lately about something the Washington Post’s Karen Tumulty wrote a few weeks ago, when she considered the possibility that GOP House members would be put in a tough spot in the event of a floor vote like this one. “As evidence of impropriety mounts each day,” Tumulty wrote, “and public support for the inquiry grows, do they really want to cast a vote that says, ‘Nothing to see here’?”
The answer, we now know, is yes. The House Republican minority really did want to cast that vote. They not only oppose impeachment, they oppose the fact-finding process that might eventually lead to impeachment.
Now that this hurdle has been cleared, the House Intelligence Committee will move forward in the near future with public hearings, which will feature questions from staff attorneys (who tend to be quite good at this). In time, the expectation is that the panel, led by Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), will prepare a report on the impeachment inquiry’s findings, which would be given to the House Judiciary Committee. It would then fall on that panel, under the existing plan, to evaluate the findings and consider drafting articles of impeachment.
As the process moves forward, the weight of history is unmistakable. Before now, only three presidents in American history have ever faced an official impeachment inquiry: Andrew Johnson in 1868, Richard Nixon in 1974, and Bill Clinton in 1998.
Donald Trump has joined an exclusive club he did not want to be a member of.