October 29, 2019 / 8:08 PM / 16 days ago

U.S. House Democrats unveil proposal on impeachment inquiry next steps

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives on Tuesday unveiled a measure formally laying out next steps in their impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump, which authorizes public committee hearings and the public release of transcripts of closed-door depositions.

A draft of a U.S. House of Representatives resolution formally laying out the next steps in the Democratic impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump, authorizing public committee hearings and the public release of transcripts of closed-door depositions, is seen after its release on Capitol Hill in Washington, October 29, 2019. REUTERS/Jim Bourg

The proposal was previewed on Monday by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. It could be voted upon by the full House, which is controlled by Democrats, as soon as this week.

Even before the measure was unveiled, House Republican leaders said they would oppose it in protest of the closed-door proceedings by House panels over the past few weeks. But Democratic leaders expected it would pass; all but a handful of Democrats already have voiced support for the impeachment inquiry.

Under the proposal, the Intelligence Committee is authorized to have public hearings on its Ukraine investigation. The committee and other panels investigating Trump would forward their findings to the House Judiciary Committee, which could also conduct hearings before making decisions about filing any articles of impeachment.

Republicans would be allowed to subpoena witnesses and materials for the Intelligence Committee’s review. But the Democratic-majority committee would have the final say on whether those subpoenas would be issued.

Once the matter is with the Judiciary Committee, Trump and his lawyers would be allowed to participate in any Judiciary Committee impeachment proceedings, according to a Democratic fact sheet. They could cross examine witnesses, present their case and respond to evidence gathered and raise objections to testimony given, the fact sheet said.

The text of the measure states that the Judiciary Committee “shall report to the House of Representatives such resolutions, articles of impeachment or other recommendations as it deems proper.”

Democratic Representative Abigail Spanberger, who flipped a Republican district in Virginia last year, said she had no qualms about taking a vote. “We’ve been clearly in an impeachment inquiry and laying out the plan for the next step I think is a helpful thing to do to help the American people understand the parameters of the public hearings.”

But another Democrat from a district that Trump won in 2016, Representative Jeff Van Drew, said he expected to vote no on the resolution. Van Drew says he does not oppose investigations of the president, but thinks lawmakers are spending too much time on an impeachment inquiry when there is little hope that the president would be convicted by the Republican-run Senate.

“He won’t be convicted, and then he will believe that he’s been exonerated,” Van Drew told reporters.

Reporting by Richard Cowan and Susan Cornwell; Editing by Leslie Adler and Marguerita Choy

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