By Michael Hernandez
WASHINGTON (AA) – Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives unveiled a resolution Tuesday that would govern the rules of the ongoing impeachment investigation into U.S. President Donald Trump.
Introduced by Congressman Jim McGovern, who chairs the House Rules Committee, the resolution authorizes the future steps in the probe, including the release of hearing transcripts to the public as well as setting up open Intelligence Committee hearings going forward.
It further requires the Intelligence Committee to make publicly available a report on its findings, albeit with redactions to protect classified information, and authorizes the Judiciary Committee to begin impeachment proceedings and "promulgate additional procedures as it deems necessary for the fair and efficient conduct of committee hearings held pursuant to this resolution."
Trump and his counsel would also be allowed to participate in the proceedings.
It also assigns the Judiciary Committee with the responsibility to decide on whether to refer articles of impeachment to the full House of Representatives.
The resolution is widely regarded as pushback on charges from Trump and Republicans who say the process has hitherto been excessively opaque and needs to include public testimony for the American people to see.
"The House impeachment inquiry has collected extensive evidence and testimony, and soon the American people will hear from witnesses in an open setting," Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler, Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot L. Engel and Acting Oversight Committee Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney said in a joint statement.
“The evidence we have already collected paints the picture of a President who abused his power by using multiple levers of government to press a foreign country to interfere in the 2020 election. Following in the footsteps of previous impeachment inquiries, the next phase will move from closed depositions to open hearings where the American people will learn firsthand about the President’s misconduct,” they added.
The House is set to vote Thursday on the measure following debate and markup by McGovern's committee.
Republicans have already brushed off the resolution as an insufficient remedy to their complaints.
Minority Whip Steve Scalise, the number two House Republican, told reporters at the Capitol that the process is "Soviet-style."
"That might be what they do in the Soviet Union, not in the United States of America. We can't stand for this. The American people are being denied equal justice," he said.
The House's investigation has centered on a July 25 telephone call Trump held with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, in which he repeatedly pressed Zelensky for a "favor."
Trump repeatedly asked Zelensky during that conversation to open a criminal probe into former Vice President Joe Biden, who is a leading Democratic candidate heading into next year's presidential race, and Biden’s son Hunter over uncorroborated claims of corruption.