By Robert Schroeder, MarketWatch
The House of Representatives on Thursday approved a resolution setting the framework for the next phase of the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump, in a nearly party-line vote that intensifies Democrats’ probe of the Republican commander-in-chief.
By a vote of 232 to 196, the House passed a resolution that authorizes the release of transcripts of closed-door interviews by the Intelligence Committee and establishes how the committee would transition to public hearings. It also allows Trump and his lawyers to participate once the impeachment inquiry moves to the Judiciary Committee.
It was the first full vote by the House on the impeachment inquiry, which Trump calls a partisan “witch hunt.” Just two Democrats, Collin Peterson of Minnesota and Jeff Van Drew of New Jersey, voted with Republicans in opposition to the measure. The House’s lone independent, Justin Amash of Michigan, voted for the resolution.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a California Democrat, opened the inquiry in September as it was reported Trump urged Ukraine’s president to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son. “What is at stake in all of this is nothing less than our democracy,” Pelosi said in remarks on the House floor.
William Taylor, the acting U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, testified last week that Trump made nearly $400 million in aid dependent on President Volodymyr Zelensky investigating Biden and alleged Ukrainian interference in the 2016 U.S. election.
Defending Trump, Republicans blasted Democrats’ resolution as unfair, with House Minority Whip Steve Scalise saying it lays out “Soviet-style rules.”
Trump has frequently described a July call with Zelensky as “perfect,” and on Thursday repeated a plea to read the transcript — which is actually not a verbatim summary. See text of Trump-Zelensky call as released by the White House.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a New York Democrat, replied to Trump on Twitter: “We did [read the call summary]. That’s why we opened an impeachment inquiry.”
Pelosi decided to hold Thursday’s vote after Republicans called the inquiry invalid, since the House had not voted to begin work on impeachment. A vote to begin impeachment isn’t required by the Constitution, but Pelosi on Monday said she’d scheduled the move to “eliminate any doubt” about the process as the administration tries to slow the probe down.
As the House was voting, Trump declared in a tweet that the “Impeachment Hoax” was hurting stocks.
Yet the cause of U.S. stocks’ /zigman2/quotes/210599714/realtime SPX +0.39% trading lower Thursday was a report that said Chinese officials have doubts about the prospects for a long-term trade deal with the U.S. Trump said a transitional deal would still be signed soon.
White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham said in a statement after the vote: “Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats’ unhinged obsession with this illegitimate impeachment proceeding does not hurt President Trump; it hurts the American people.”