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House Judiciary Committee Democrats Vote on Impeachment Inquiry Ground Rules

House Judiciary Committee Democrats Vote on Impeachment Inquiry Ground Rules

“It allows staff to question witnesses at those hearings for an hour after members conclude, gives the President’s lawyers the ability to respond in writing to public testimony and allows the committee to collect information in a closed setting.”

The House Judiciary Committee Democrats voted this morning on “the ground rules for a formal committee inquiry” to impeach President Donald Trump.

While it does not mean an inquiry has officially started, it means the Democrats have finally defined the inquiry.

Chairman Jerry Nadler has not given up on this subject despite pushback from Democrats in the House from moderate districts.

From CNN:

Thursday’s vote, which does not need to be approved by the full House, gives Nadler the ability to deem committee hearings as impeachment hearings. It allows staff to question witnesses at those hearings for an hour after members conclude, gives the President’s lawyers the ability to respond in writing to public testimony and allows the committee to collect information in a closed setting.

Nadler sought to clarify the committee’s intentions in his opening statement at Thursday’s committee meeting, acknowledging there was confusion but arguing that the language used to describe the investigation wasn’t the important point.

“This Committee is engaged in an investigation that will allow us to determine whether to recommend articles of impeachment with respect to President Trump. Some call this process an impeachment inquiry. Some call it an impeachment investigation. There is no legal difference between these terms, and I no longer care to argue about the nomenclature,” the New York Democrat said. “But let me clear up any remaining doubt: The conduct under investigation poses a threat to our democracy. We have an obligation to respond to this threat. And we are doing so.”

Nadler faces hesitation from some Democrats, especially those who flipped their districts in 2018. These representatives helped the Democrats seize the House last November.

Rep. Donna Shalala (D-FL) said the impeachment is “sucking the air out of all the good stuff that we’re doing.” She reiterated that not many of those she represents have brought up impeachment during the August recess.

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi remains one of Nadler’s biggest obstacle. She has stayed away from using the word impeachment when asked about the investigation. She described the strategy as “legislate, investigate and litigate.” Behind closed doors, Pelosi “has urged caution and told the caucus that the public isn’t there yet on impeachment.”

Pelosi faced “unhappy protesters at a dinner in San Francisco” last month due to the House not concentrating on issues they deem necessary. These include climate change, the economy, and healthcare.

Unlike Shalala, Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-MA) dealt with angry constituents during the August recess over his opposition to impeachment. Unable to control his temper, he told the audience that their push for impeachment would help Trump win in 2020.

Rep. Conor Lamb (D-PA) and Rep. Mikie Sherrill (D-NJ) also had frustrated constituents at town halls. They want to know why the House has shuffled its feet when it comes to impeachment:

“If we don’t make a strong enough case to the American people — and right now, I don’t think we can do that without more — the president will be acquitted, and we will now have two branches of our government who have said that his behavior is acceptable,” Sherrill said as the room quieted, adding that she would support impeachment if Trump defies a court order.

Yet this moved some members of the audience to accuse her of playing politics.

“It’s a fight worth fighting. If you lose, you lose, but at least you made the fight,” one man said as Sherrill turned to other questions. Another woman chimed in with a warning: “Don’t be last to speak up. You’ll be challenged.”

Other Democrats do not want to touch impeachment because they know it will not get past the Senate. But would it even get past the House? Only 135 Democrats have voiced support for an impeachment inquiry.

While the Democrats think semantics are not important, those words will mean something if the investigation lands in front of a judge.

Who knows what will happen. I do not mind the Democrats concentrating on impeachment. It means that they are not legislating, which means fewer bad laws.


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What a waste of time and resources.

    Even more so if you consider that we are only 5 months away from the Presidential and Congressional primary season.

    I’m still thinking that the Senate, because it gets to define how the Impeachment Trial works, could allow for a complete curve ball and let Trump use the trial to investigate the origins of the Russian Collusion story.

      fishstick in reply to Xmas. | September 12, 2019 at 11:56 am

      if it even gets to the Senate

      this is a huge (and dumb) gamble by the House Dems because they already know there is no impeachable offense coupled with them never securing a conviction in the Senate

      if the Senate proceeding will be worse for reasons you just stated as the Repubs control the majority there

    fishstick in reply to Virginia42. | September 12, 2019 at 11:53 am

    it is going to be funny though because the House has no authority when it comes to producing testimony

    we learned that from the Obama years

    the only difference here though is the House wants to rehash those all investigated in the Mueller probe

    so anyone subpoenaed can legimately refuse on the grounds of having already spoken to federal authorities

    and anything hit with congressional inquiries or even an recommendation for indictment will be either stalled in the courts or declined by AG Barr

    (well you would think)

    it is just going to be funny watching them shriek about the “unfairness of it all” and that when these same jokers never spoke up about how Holder literally would withhold info and outright stalled inquiries during the Obama years

    but the most ironic thing is – what are they going to investigate?

    what is the actual crime Trump did that warrants impeachment or even these proceedings

      artichoke in reply to fishstick. | September 12, 2019 at 1:58 pm

      I don’t know, Watergate worked pretty well, and there wasn’t much to that either.

      The Dems are good at this. Republicans instinctively look for what’s fair or what’s conservative, Dems look for what cuts the opponent’s throat to bleed him out and drink his blood — or at least enslave him to your agenda.

      I don’t see how someone can refuse a subpoena to the House because they already testified to the DOJ. They are coequal branches of government, and Mueller was an executive appointee.

      In the context of “Watergate hearings” wouldn’t a claim of executive privilege just look suspicious? Not to me, but to those who could be swayed.

        fishstick in reply to artichoke. | September 12, 2019 at 2:50 pm

        the problem is the House and Senate has no authority to compel testimony

        because the “authority” resides with the executive branch

        the Dems can investigate and investigate till they are blue in the face (literally) but all they can do in the end is file for a court injunction to make someone appear or recommend a charge to be filed

        they actually can’t do it themselves

        the above is what the Obama administration did to the Repub House for almost 6 years

        but the difference THIS time around is those Nadler would want testimony from, was likely already investigated and/or has given sworn testimony

        this whole “impeachment proceedings” is a “redo” of the Mueller probe due to its failure to unseat the president

        Tom Servo in reply to artichoke. | September 12, 2019 at 3:05 pm

        Watergate “worked” because most of the Republicans in the Senate hated Nixon even more than the Democrats did. It was a Deep State op all the way.

        They tried to do it again, but this time they jumped too early, and they didn’t get their “evidence” lined up, they got lazy and thought they could make it work with allegations only.

    blamejimmy in reply to Virginia42. | September 12, 2019 at 12:17 pm

    But ask yourself,what else do they have?
    Undoubtedly they all know what is coming for each one of them.
    It is indeed a sad day for the Democrats,when Pelosi is not for impeachment when she’s been been part of the ploy to destroy Trump.
    Pelosi also seems to be forgetting an awful lot lately,as has Biden and Meuller..perhaps these 3 would prefer spending the rest of their days in a private wing of some luxury mental hospital instead of in Gitmo?

    Petrushka in reply to Virginia42. | September 12, 2019 at 2:48 pm

    Wasting time is the best possible use of congressional resources.

The Dem leadership is stuck between two terrible monsters that they brought upon themselves.

First, if they do not support impeachment, their frothing primary voters will oust many of the party faithful in exchange for even more frothing congresscritters for her to fight with.

Second, if they do support impeachment for the weak-(censored) reasons they’ve put forward, the backlash from outraged conservatives and Republicans (different people, but united here) will swamp her majority, reelect Trump, and put her back into a minority again. In which case she might as well just resign and enjoy retirement, because she’ll have a broken Dem minority in the house full of screaming leftists who she’s not going to be able to control at all.

Going nowhere. This will quickly decay into a prolonged process of defining the process as Democrats who want to be re-elected continue to hamper progress. It’s another one of those 5% issues that “the base” believes has additive properties. In other words, focus on 11 5% issues, and you will win 55% of the general vote. The problem is that it is the same nutty 5% of voters who support these nutty issues. So bring it on.

This is proof that Nadler thinks he might lose a primary race in his District, and he’s running scared.

All of these investigations to see if they need an investigation and making rules for a still non existent non event are simply tactics to attempt to make our great President Trump look bad, and an effort of failed politicians to look as if they are doing something useful!

    No this is the real thing in formal terms. This is the equivalent of the Watergate hearings that were on TV for hours a day back then.

    They are really doing this.

It’s a fundraising ploy …. can you send $5, $10, or $20 to help us remove Trump?

That sound you hear is Nadlers career circling the drain.

Dem leadership is firmly behind this, it’s being done with full high-priced consultation and as airtight as they can make it. Pelosi has approved the investigation. She wants Watergate hearings during the election season.

It won’t bother them, nor their constituents, that there’s nothing to investigate. The play’s the thing, wherein we catch the (attention of the voter).

Will someone PLEASE get Fat Jerry a sandwich.

This is in the House, which is where impeachment originates. It’s logical that the House would have impeachment hearings.

Can someone explain to me why the Watergate hearings, which were essentially impeachment hearings, were in the Senate?

    fishstick in reply to artichoke. | September 12, 2019 at 2:56 pm

    from what I understand

    if the House votes to impeach, then the Senate is then presented the case where they debate about it before the vote

    it is not a bang bang procedure

    what is happening at this moment isn’t an impeachment vote but an impeachment inquiry, which stays in the House

      artichoke in reply to fishstick. | September 13, 2019 at 2:50 pm

      Right, it’s an impeachment inquiry in the House Judiciary Committee. (Watergate was in the Senate Judiciary Committee.)

      After impeachment hearings, the HJC can report out articles of impeachment to the full House. These would have debate and votes according to some rules. Presumably the purpose of the HJC debate is to provide an informed recommendation to the full House, and Members can watch the investigation videos, read the reports, consult with HJC members, etc. to inform their votes on the floor.

      Then if articles are impeachment are approved by simple majority vote in the House, they proceed to the Senate for trial, with 2/3 majority vote required to remove the President.

      This is the formal procedure I would expect. (Formal process is being abused in this case, form over substance but that’s the process.)

      And my question is why, in the case of Watergate, hearings that were presumably to inform a House vote on articles of impeachment, were held by the *Senate* Judiciary Committee. (Nixon resigned before the House vote, supposedly being informed he would lose in the House and likely also the Senate.)

Nadler is starting impeachment proceedings due to the committing of impeachable offences –

I completely agree – except she was not elected

They still can’t get tax returns, which are constitutionally protected by self-incrimination. The IRS can’t release them to other agencies. Otherwise you can’t be required to report income.

    Joe-dallas in reply to rhhardin. | September 12, 2019 at 3:41 pm

    Based on my reading of the applicable statute, the members of the House ways and means committee and the senate finance committee can see the returns.

    That being said, only the members of the two committees can see the returns. They can not release any of the information obtained from the returns. Their aides can not see the returns. Senators and representives not on the committees can not see the returns.

    Disclosure of the return information is a federal criminal offense and the speech and debate clause doesnt protect them since the offense is a felony.

    So what good is having seen the tax returns if they cant disclose the info – due to the criminal penalties

      rhhardin in reply to Joe-dallas. | September 12, 2019 at 6:45 pm

      One of the objections to the income tax was that it would be unconstitutional owing to self-incrimination. The deal to get it into the constitution was that the information could not be released, in particular to the government, which is where self-incrimination would matter most.

      So I don’t think it’s a statute that’s in question.

      artichoke in reply to Joe-dallas. | September 13, 2019 at 2:57 pm

      What if the House Judiciary Committee called members of the House Ways and Means Committee to testify as to what they saw in the tax returns? What sort of information could Ways and Means members choose to disclose under oath (Democrats)? How much could they be required to disclose under oath (Republicans)?

        Joe-dallas in reply to artichoke. | September 14, 2019 at 9:42 am

        Artichoke – The statute doesnt provide any exceptions for the disclosure (as I recall). The limited exceptions in the statute for similar disclosure are limited to testimony in article 3 courts. The house judiciary committee would not meet those exceptions since the legislative branch is under article 1 of the constitution.

Wasn’t Jerry Nadler running around for the last two years, claiming there was “evidence” that DJT conspired with the Russians.

What happened to that evidence? What does he think that evidence is?

Why do no reporters ask these questions?

    artichoke in reply to Valerie. | September 13, 2019 at 2:58 pm

    Because the reporters want the “question” to remain hanging, as an excuse for Nadler to have hearings into the same thing Mueller already investigated.

I don’t know exactly how this works, but a formal impeachment investigation apparently puts some limits on Executive Privilege. And the Trump Administration is invoking Executive Privilege a lot, after the ending of the Mueller investigation ended the possibility that Mueller’s rabidly partisan prosecutors would have treated it as Obstruction of (their version of) Justice. That was supposedly a criminal investigation, while the Dems here are engaged in nakedly partisan grandstanding. So Wadler and his Judiciary committee Dems are getting zip from the Executive Branch. And the DoJ isn’t helping them enforce subpoenas, etc.

Wadler’s problem here is that he isn’t running a duly constituted impeachment investigation, but rather just an investigation that is likely for nakedly partisan reasons (#OrangeManBad) to recommend that a real impeachment investigation be initiated. Or maybe just go straight to an impeachment vote, but I see that unlikely. In any case, the difference is that a true impeachment investigation and hearings apparently requires a majority vote in the House, and Wadler is very unlikely to get that, absent a smoking gun, this close to a Presidential election, given that the Dem majority, plus several other Representatives, are from districts that voted for Trump in 2016. No formal House vote to open impeachment hearings means that the Trump Administration will continue to snub their collective noses at Wadler and his subpoenas by invoking Executive Privilege.

It pretty much has to be that way. Otherwise, any time the House Judiciary Committee wants something from the Executive Branch and they invoke Executive Privilege to protect it, that committee chair would just have to intone “impeachment investigation”. A formal vote by the entire House opening up a formal impeachment investigation and hearings is a political move, and would likely have political consequences for the majority so voting. Wadler and his Judiciary Committee cohorts want to have their cake and eat it too – get to hate courts overrule Executive Privilege without incurring the political cost of Trump district House Dems being forced to give up their chances of re-election by voting to open impeachment hearings.

Won’t work.

    Bruce Hayden in reply to Bruce Hayden. | September 12, 2019 at 4:53 pm

    Just a reminder of how we got here. After Trump won election in 2016, a plan was hatched to remove him from office. If they could do it by shaming, or the 25th Amdt, then fine. The backup was always impeachment. The FBI had a lot of evidence that they shouldn’t legally have had, garnered through FISA Title VII searching of NSA databases, Title I surveillance, and running agents of theirs and the CIA at the Trump campaign. They did a lot of this by switching back and forth between criminal and national security investigations of the same people. The trade off between the Crossfire Hurricane investigation and the Special Counsel investigation was almost seamless, by having some of the same people (Strzok, Page, Weissman, etc) involved in both investigations. Of course, the Mueller team shouldn’t have had any of the National Security information available, since they were only legally able to look at criminality. They used the Logan Act and the fake Steele Dossier to pretend to bridge that.

    The next step was to elect a Dem controlled House. And the donors who ponied up the many millions of dollars to do that had impeachment as their primary aim. It worked. They were able to run many more ads than the Republicans they were trying to replace. And it didn’t hurt that Soros had earlier bought a bunch of State Secretaries of State and county clerks.

    But that was where the plot unraveled. The Mueller investigation was supposed to have transferred their mountain of information and evidence to the Judiciary Committee in the now Dem controlled House. But they weren’t fast enough getting organized. One thing that we pretty UCD know is that AG Barr was brought in to shut down the Mueller investigation in such a way that they couldn’t defend against it by claiming Obstruction of Justice. Barr was apparently picked for the job last summer, at least partially as a result of his memo to DAG Rosenstein pushing back against the Mueller very creative and expansive interpretation of one of the Obstruction statutes that they were starting to use. The Republican plan was apparently initially to confirm him before the 2018 election, but the Kavenaugh confirmation jumped ahead of the Barr confirmation, which was pushed to first thing this year. And Barr did shut the Mueller investigation down, in short order, by asking Mueller two simple questions: What else do you need to investigate to determine whether there had been any Russian Collusion by Trump (Mueller said that part was long done), and the Why is the investigation still ongoing? Of course it had long been just an Obstruction investigation, which is a process crime, and thus cannot be justified on its own.

    The important point though is that the Mueller investigation had not managed to transfer their mountain of evidence to the new Dem controlled House Judiciary Committee, before AG Barr shut it down so summarily. No doubt Wadler and his cohorts have some of that evidence – they just don’t have it legally. Anything outside the public domain that they might have lacks legal provenance, and is likely to get both them and whoever gave it them arrested. In particular, they don’t legitimately have any grand jury testimony, nor any National Security garnered information. And they have been told by AG Barr, that they aren’t going to get it. Wadler’s gambit is to pretend that they have an impeachment hearing, so the Trump Administration has to provide al the stuff they are refusing. But, as I pointed out above, that very likely isn’t going to work esp with a 5-4 Republican majority in the Supreme Court.

      artichoke in reply to Bruce Hayden. | September 13, 2019 at 3:23 pm

      Nadler is modeling his hearings on the Watergate hearings. Those were blessed in whatever way was necessary if they were challenged.

      I doubt SCOTUS would slap down the legislative branch in following a “well trodden path” in impeachment investigation. It would be a historic constitutional crisis. The Dems would have to be incompetent to commit a mistake that opened the way for this.

      Even within the judiciary branch, the court is not a finder of fact, only an imposer of process. Juries find facts, or judges in particular matters. I cannot imagine SCOTUS would reach into the House and say they have no facts — even though it would be accurate.

    artichoke in reply to Bruce Hayden. | September 13, 2019 at 3:05 pm

    Righteously you’re right. Formally I think you are wrong.

    Nadler’s hearings are real impeachment hearings that can culminate in a House vote on articles of impeachment if Pelosi wants them to. Pelosi will be reelected again and will again be Speaker, and so if (just for the sake of argument) Nadler’s hearings continue past the election into the next Congress, and maybe the Dems pick up a couple Senate seats (although they need a 2/3 vote to convict there) the articles could be voted in the House in January 2021, right around what we hope is Trump’s 2nd inauguration, to put a damper on things yet again. House members now have a full 2 year term ahead of them and are more likely to stick to the party line. And now as Trump tries to get things thru Congress to really fix our problems, Senators are conflicted by the impeachment trial staring them in the face.

    Recall that Watergate wasn’t based on much either, and Nixon had just been reelected in probably the greatest landslide ever winning 49 states. That didn’t stop the Dems, it just made them more excited at the prospect of getting Nixon.

Blinded by their lust for power…

They’ve earned whatever backlash they get for this. It’s an attempt to remove a legitimately elected president.

“They want to know why the House has shuffled its feet when it comes to impeachment”

Are the Representatives asking this question idiots? The House waited because they want impeachment to dominate the news cycle during the election year.

what Nadler is doing is claiming it to be a formal investigation for impeachment, which it isn’t unless it is voted by the House to do so.
This is all to keep pushing the failed coup.
And on a day where it is looking really bad for McCabe, and little Porkie will end up being associated with Comey, McCabe, and Herr Mueller in the attempted coup.

    artichoke in reply to oldgoat36. | September 13, 2019 at 3:09 pm

    There is no formal House vote to open an impeachment investigation. It’s just like any other investigation, it bubbles up from the committees. Pelosi already approved this one by the way.

    Nope, it’s the real thing.

Rule #1: Trump is guilty!
Rule #2: When confronted with any evidence to the contrary, see Rule #1.

Does that just about cover it?

It’s real simple. Any time you have a decent conservative president, the Dems try to impeach and remove him.

Nixon. Now Trump.

What about Reagan? Former communist, gutted our country, the Dems were probably thrilled with him. Gerald Ford did nothing. GHWB, GWB not conservative either.

Eisenhower? Appointed Earl Warren as Chief Justice. Says it was a mistake, whatever, he did it. Besides he was pretty untouchable as a war hero.

The only other ones who weren’t obviously corrupt were Nixon and Trump. And the Dems don’t simply have a “loyal opposition” model. They subvert all the time. If they don’t have a subversive in office, they subvert the person who is in office.