On Oct. 31, the House of Representatives finally held a vote directing the following committees: Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and the Committees on Financial Services, Foreign Affairs, the Judiciary, Oversight and Reform, and Ways and Means to continue investigating President Donald J. Trump to see if enough evidence exists for the House to impeach Trump, known as House Resolution 660.
The vote was split down party lines (232-196), Republicans voting all nay, Democrats voting yes, with only two exceptions, Reps. Jeff Van Drew of New Jersey and Colin Peterson of Minnesota.
Even before the voting began, Republicans already began announcing strong objections to the inquiry’s continuation.
Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA) went so far as to hold up a sign during his pre-vote allotted time that read “37 Days of Soviet-Style Impeachment Proceedings” with the Communist insignia prominently featured along with a backdrop of St. Basil’s Cathedral.
Scalise, while holding the sign, accused the Democrats of wanting Trump impeached since the day the president took office and furthermore accused the majority of bringing impeachment proceedings to a resolution only “because they [Democrats] don’t agree with the results of the 2016 election.”
Rep. Devin Nunes of California in his speech called the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence “a cult.” Additionally, he pointed the proverbial finger at Rep. Adam Schiff, a fellow Californian, head of the Intelligence Committee of “running a show trial” and “turning the committee into the Impeachment Committee.”
Meanwhile, President Trump tweeted at 11:31, exactly twelve minutes after the vote was confirmed on the House floor: “The Greatest Witch Hunt In American History!”
As of Monday, Nov. 4, transcripts from closed depositions of witnesses, the first of these being Kurt Volker, a U.S. diplomat to NATO, regarding events that transpired between the Ukraine and Trump were released by House Democrats.
When news that the depositions and transcripts of the closed hearings would be made public reached Trump, he then attacked Schiff on Twitter.
“House Republicans must have nothing to do with Shifty’s rendition of those interviews. He is a proven liar, leaker & freak who is really the one who should be impeached!” Trump tweeted.
The transcripts showed that much like the pre-vote proceedings before the vote on H. Res 660, the Republicans spent part of the proceedings calling foul on their Democratic counterparts.
During a deposition with former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch, Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio called the proceedings “a partisan investigation.”
Rep. Mark Meadows of North Carolina then told Democrats during a closed-door interview with another State Department official, “You are willfully selecting facts while omitting others, according to a CNN report.
Despite questioning by Republicans on the inquiry’s legitimacy, transcripts from C-Span show that the party of Donald Trump is just as involved in the questioning of witnesses.
Another key witness, Gordon D. Sondland, former U.S. Ambassador to the European Union updated his earlier testimony from Oct. 17. In the four pages of newly written testimony released Monday, Nov. 4, Sondland wrote to the House Intelligence Committee that “his memory was refreshed” after reviewing opening statements from Ambassadors William Taylor and political advisor to Trump, Tim Morrison.
Taylor told investigators in his opening statement that he advised Ukranian officials to go along with President Trump’s wishes to assist in an investigation of Hunter Biden in order to receive aid money before the federal fiscal year ended on Sept. 30.
Morrison then corroborated the central allegation by Democrats against Trump: that in fact, the release of military aid was contingent on Ukraine investigating the Biden family.
Sondland laid out in the four pages, a quid pro quo that centered on Trump’s wishes to investigate the Ukranian company, Burisma.
The former ambassador wrote that “satisfying Mr. Guiliani [and his and Trump’s concerns about Ukraine] was a condition for scheduling the White House visit [with Ukranian president Volodymyr Zelensky], which we all strongly believed was in the mutual interest of the United States and Ukraine.”
Sondland testified on Oct. 17 that the reason he went along with Guliani was that he believed that acquiescing to his demands would be the easiest way to restore normal relations between the two nations, according to the New York Times.
While transcripts of closed hearings are now being released, the next step in the impeachment process will be to begin public hearings by the House’s Intelligence and then the Judiciary Committees, respectively.
These hearings, according to remarks made to Bloomberg Television on Friday, Nov. 1 by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, will begin this month, but she declined to be specific as to a timetable for the hearings as of yet.
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