The House Judiciary Committee is set to vote Thursday on new impeachment procedures, a move that Democrats are calling their next step in determining whether to approve articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump.
Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., has already said the committee is conducting an impeachment investigation, but said Monday this move would more clearly define the parameters of the probe.
In a committee release on Monday, Nadler said the adoption of the procedures “will help ensure our impeachment hearings are informative to Congress and the public, while providing the President with the ability to respond to evidence presented against him. We will not allow Trump’s continued obstruction to stop us from delivering the truth to the American people.”
“It represents another significant step forward,” a senior Judiciary aide said on Monday.
“There’s no question the committee is engaged in an investigation to determine whether to recommend articles of impeachment and these procedures are to guide that,” another aide said.
The committee also announced Monday that President Trump’s former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski will testify on Sept. 17. Mueller’s report describes Trump dictating a message to Lewandowski to give to then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions to limit the scope of the special counsel’s investigation to future election interference. As the Mueller reports states, Lewandowski never delivered the message and instead asked former deputy chief of staff Rick Dearborn to do so.
Sources have told ABC News that Lewandowski would be willing to testify publicly before the committee but his attorney is encouraging him to speak only about his time working for Trump on the campaign, not about any conversations he had with Trump as president.
An aide to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she is supportive of the committee’s effort to expand its investigative powers, which Democrat leaders believe demonstrates the urgency of their investigation into the president to the courts.
A growing numbers of Democrats believe time is running short on their ability to hold the president accountable for his actions and that has increased pressure on Pelosi and other party leaders.
Pelosi and Democrats see the case for impeachment expanding, working to pin constitutional violations on the president, according to a senior Democratic House leadership aide. As the case for impeachment continues to build and the presidential election draws near, Democrats are essentially pocketing special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation and moving onto what they view as less debatable indiscretions allegedly conducted by the president and administration, such as alleged violations of the Constitution’s Emoluments Clause.
Vice President Mike Pence’s recent stay at Trump’s Doonbeg resort in Ireland is one example, and House Democrats are already looking into U.S. military personnel staying at the president’s Turnberry property in Scotland – arguing that the president has enriched himself through his official office.
With just two cases of impeachment in the nation’s history and only 31 words in the Constitution outlining the power of impeachment, a senior Democratic aide conceded there is no definitive blueprint for impeachment. While Judiciary Democrats are relying on precedent to largely shape their strategy, the case is complicated as time passes and they say the president continues to violate his oath of office.
As she returned to the Capitol after a six-week recess, Pelosi on Monday declined to discuss her latest thinking on impeachment, telling ABC News she was heading into a meeting to discuss the matter.
Trump campaign communications director Tim Murtaugh told ABC News that the move toward impeachment shows “Democrats have always aimed to overturn the legitimate results of the 2016 election regardless of the facts or circumstances.”
“They were counting on Robert Mueller and the Russia Hoax to provide them a reason to impeach, but that predictably fell apart, and now they just don’t care why,” Murtaugh noted. “Democrats are prisoners of their radical, fringe base and are willing to divide this nation in the most painful fashion possible in order to satisfy the most hate-filled partisans in their midst. President Trump just continues to do his job, advancing policies that have fueled the greatest economy Americans have ever seen.”