House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is calling the bluff of the House GOP and Trump regime by holding a formal impeachment inquiry floor vote later this week.
The Thursday vote will push back against a White House and Republican congressional talking point that the impeachment inquiry is not legitimate because it hasn't been formally authorized, which comes as Democrats are facing off for the first time with a witness defying a subpoena as part of the inquiry.
The resolution, which will be introduced and marked up in the House Rules Committee, would be the first vote the full House will take related to impeachment, after the House did not vote to formally authorize an impeachment inquiry earlier this month.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Monday in a "Dear Colleague" letter that the resolution was not legally necessary, but the House would take the vote "to eliminate any doubt as to whether the Trump administration may withhold documents, prevent witness testimony, disregard duly authorized subpoenas, or continue obstructing the House of Representatives."
"This week, we will bring a resolution to the Floor that affirms the ongoing, existing investigation that is currently being conducted by our committees as part of this impeachment inquiry, including all requests for documents, subpoenas for records and testimony, and any other investigative steps previously taken or to be taken as part of this investigation," Pelosi wrote.
Pelosi said that the resolution would establish the procedure for open hearings, authorize the release of deposition transcripts and outline how the Intelligence Committee can transfer evidence to the Judiciary Committee, which would be the panel that would take up potential articles of impeachment.
The Rules Committee website says the resolution is "directing certain committees to continue their ongoing investigations as part of the existing House of Representatives inquiry into whether sufficient grounds exist for the House of Representatives to exercise its Constitutional power to impeach Donald John Trump."
The text of the resolution has not been released, but House Rules Chairman Jim McGovern, a Massachusetts Democrat, said in a statement that the measure will lay out how the House is "ensuring transparency" as it moves toward the "public phase" of the impeachment inquiry.
"This is the right thing to do for the institution and the American people," McGovern said in a statement.
I can see Pelosi's argument that it's the right thing to do, but if she actually believes this will get the Trump regime to cooperate in any way, well I've got some seaside cottages in Kansas to sell her. Pelosi's too smart to think this will get the White House to turn over a single page of documents, but again, this is all 100% a political process, not a legal one. It gives the appearance of good politics.
Having said that, by the end of the week, the White House will have their excuse for refusing to cooperate ready to go, and the media will then spend the weekend reading way too much into any non-party line votes from Thursday's proceedings.
I'm unsure about Pelosi buying into the GOP framing, as Democrats are often wont to do, but Pelosi's been doing a great job stewarding this so far, and besides, it's just as likely that the Trumpies overplay their hand.
Lot of nervous Republicans having to go on record defending Trump in a few days, too. On the other hand, there a quite a few Republicans who have already announced their retirement, including 20-year veteran Oregon Republican Greg Walden just today, who maybe, maybe might do the right thing.
We'll see. It's all academic without Senate conviction anyway.