This Thursday, the House of Representatives passed the resolution formalizing the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump in a historic 232-196 vote. Momentum for the president’s impeachment had been building for months, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., announced a formal inquiry in September following a whistleblower complaint about a now-infamous White House phone call with Ukraine.
The whistleblower complaint details a phone call between Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy and President Trump, in which the White House is accused of withholding millions of dollars in military aid to Ukraine to force Ukraine to investigate a long-debunked conspiracy theory about the 2016 election. Trump also wanted an investigation opened into his potential 2020 rival and former Vice President Joe Biden in order to further his own personal political gain. Even though the transcript of the call has been released and corroborates the whistleblower’s complaint, Trump continues to insist that he has done nothing wrong, repeatedly calling the call “perfect”.
The resolution authorizes the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee to hold open hearings, as well as allowing the president and his lawyers to cross-examine the witnesses during hearings. The resolution, which you can read a draft version of here, also directs the House committees leading the inquiry to report their findings to the House Judiciary Committee, which will then decide whether to recommend moving forward with articles of impeachment. In a press conference, Pelosi noted that the procedures in the resolution are open and transparent, saying that the procedures are “giving more privileges to the president and his argument than were given in the past.”
That hasn’t stopped Republican leadership from calling the vote a “Soviet-style process” (even though their attempts to derail these democratic proceedings are closer to the “Soviet-style process” they so readily decry). “There’s nothing the president did to be impeached,” asserted House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, ignoring Trump’s entire presidency. Immediately following the vote, Trump took to Twitter to vent his frustration about facing consequences for his actions. “The Greatest Witch Hunt In American History!” he tweeted, apparently forgetting about (and belittling) the actual witch hunts that occurred in Salem which saw many innocent women unjustly accused and condemned.
During the debate, Pelosi called it a “sad day.” Speaking to reporters, she said, “It’s a sad day because nobody comes to Congress to impeach a president of the United States. No one. We come here to do the work, make the future better for our children, for America’s future. We take an oath to protect and defend the Constitution, and that’s what we cannot ignore and will not ignore when the president’s behavior indicates that that investigation, that inquiry, is necessary.”
Republican leaders aren’t able to defend Trump’s actions because there isn’t anything to defend. Instead, they’re resorting to intimidating witnesses and attacking the process of the investigation—like when House Republicans tried halting the impeachment inquiry by gathering in protest at the Capital and chanted “Let us in! Let us in!”, even though it was the Republicans who had made the rules for closed door hearings, and some of them were allowed to be present because they were members of the three panels conducting the inquiry. Instead of participating in the hearings, they thought their time better spent trying to derail proceedings just to shift focus away from damaging revelations about the president. Doesn’t that imply that these Republican leaders are well aware that Trump’s actions are corrupt and unlawful? They know Trump is not innocent, but still they perform the most insane mental gymnastics to defend him. They defend him not to uphold American values, they defend him so that they can stay in power.