The U.S. House of Representatives took a major step in the impeachment effort against U.S. President Donald Trump on Thursday when lawmakers approved rules for the next stage of the Democratic-led inquiry into the president’s attempt to have Ukraine investigate a domestic political rival.
SOUNDBITE (ENGLISH) HOUSE SPEAKER NANCY PELOSI (D): “And today, the House takes the next step forward as we establish the procedures for open hearings, conducted by the House Intelligence Committee, so that the public can see the facts for themselves.” U.S. lawmakers on Thursday cast their first vote in the impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump.
Passing a measure to set up next steps in the fast-moving effort.
Not a single Republican voted for it, and two Democrats voted against it.
The proposal calls for public hearings and the release of transcripts from closed-door proceedings... SOUNDBITE (ENGLISH) REP LIZ CHENEY (R): “A secret process that denies rights…” ....after Republicans have for weeks accused Democrats of trampling on Trump's rights and keeping the process too secret.
DEMOCRATIC INTELLIGENCE CHAIRMAN ADAM SCHIFF defended the closed door testimonies.
SOUNDBITE (ENGLISH) INTELLIGENCE CHAIRMAN ADAM SCHIFF (D): "That work has necessarily occurred behind closed doors, because we have had the task of finding the facts ourselves, without the benefit of the investigation the Justice Department declined to undertake." The measure also outlines what rights Republican lawmakers and Trump himself would have in the process.
Democrats insist Trump is getting a fair trial.
SOUNDBITE (ENGLISH) REP JIM MCGOVERN (D): "This resolution provides better protections for the president than Presidents Nixon and Clinton received." Republicans called it partisan sham.
SOUNDBITE (ENGLISH) REP TOM COLE (R): "At least today the majority is admitting what we've known all along.
That the House was not following an appropriate process for impeachment.
But I do not think the process that we're setting forward in this resolution is a fair one, either." Democrats argued Thursday that impeachment was about defending the constitution.
SOUNDBITE (ENGLISH) REP.
JERRY NADLER (D): "I support this resolution because it is indefensible for any official to demand that an ally, one depending on our support in an existential struggle with Russia, investigate his or her political adversaries." Thursday's vote was not on articles of impeachment.
That could come in weeks.
If that passes, it then goes to trial in the Senate, which is controlled by Republicans.
Thursday's vote comes as testimony from diplomats and Ukraine experts continues to corroborate a whistleblower's account which sparked the inquiry, which described a broad effort by the White House to push Ukraine to investigate Trump's political rivals.