House Democrats have been obsessed with impeaching President Donald Trump since before he even took office, and that process was unofficially launched earlier this month over a contrived controversy over the president’s July phone call to Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky.
Now, the president, Republicans, and even some Democrats are asking Dem leaders to formalize the process — but it looks like House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) won’t budge. She announced this week that she has no plans to hold a formal vote on an impeachment inquiry on the House floor at the time, The Hill reports.
Pelosi: No vote
According to The Hill, Pelosi made that announcement during a media briefing Tuesday, after Congress had returned to work following a two-week recess. Notably, the decision also came just hours prior to the Democratic presidential primary debate in Ohio later that evening.
Pelosi reportedly held extensive meetings with party leaders and members of her House caucus before she made the announcement that no formal vote would be held, though Democratic aides were said to have stressed to the media that the situation remained “fluid” and Pelosi could reverse course and call for the vote at any time in the future.
“There’s no requirement that we have a vote, and so at this time we will not be having a vote,” Pelosi informed the media during the briefing on Capitol Hill.
Shutting out the GOP
As noted, House Republicans and the Trump administration have been urging Pelosi to hold a formal vote and have dismissed the ongoing impeachment-related actions thus far as illegitimate in the absence of such. Formal votes have always preceded prior impeachment efforts in the House, including those against former Presidents Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton.
The crux of the Republican argument is that a formal floor vote to officially launch an impeachment inquiry would grant House minority Republicans equal power as that held by majority Democrats to participate in depositions and hearings, and subpoena their own witnesses. Similarly, the formal vote would also allow for the president’s legal team to participate in the process as well.
“The minority has been shut out of the process,” Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX) told the media on Tuesday, according to The Hill. “It is being done in a…classified briefing room behind closed doors when it should be in front of the American people so that all can see in a very transparent way the testimony of these witnesses.”
Indeed, House Democrats — led by Trump-hating House Intelligence Committee chair Adam Schiff (D-CA) — have been holding a series of closed-door hearings in which Trump officials are grilled while House Republicans and administration attorneys have been denied the ability to participate. Conveniently, tidbits of information that look bad for the president have been selectively leaked from those hearings, while demands for full transcripts to be released publicly have been ignored.
An impeachment impasse
The White House had already announced that it will refuse to cooperate any further in what has been described as a continuation of the anti-Trump “witch hunt” until a formal vote is held, and it seems that the impasse will continue for now.
Pelosi has been rather coy about her reasoning behind avoiding a formal floor vote, but widespread speculation on both sides suggests she is hoping to avoid having to force moderate Democrats in Trump-supporting red states from having to go on record with a vote on impeachment. That, and the current situation of secretive hearings with selective leaks plays to the Democrats’ advantage.
There remains a strong possibility, however, that Pelosi has resisted the call for a vote because she knows she doesn’t have the numbers to support impeachment. Even Dems haven’t all rallied behind Trump’s ouster, it seems — and the American people undoubtedly aren’t all for it, either.