The House Judiciary Committee on Thursday voted along party lines to expand its impeachment investigation, representing a new urgency in the Democrats’ probe into President Donald Trump.
(MORE: Democrats expanding impeachment approach, signaling urgency of probe into President Trump )
J. Scott Applewhite/AP
House Judiciary Committee members debate amendments as the panel moved to approve guidelines for impeachment hearings on President Donald Trump, on Capitol Hill, Sept. 12, 2019.
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Republicans, on the other hand, argued that the committee action was “like a Seinfeld hearing — it’s a hearing about nothing,” saying the panel should be focusing instead on questioning Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz on his finding that fired FBI Director James Comey violated agency policy.
The committee vote comes as Democrats have struggled with their messaging on impeachment — using different terms to explain what steps they are taking with regard to their investigation to determine whether to recommend articles of impeachment to the House.
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Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-NY) listens to comments during a House Judiciary Committee markup, Sept. 12, 2019, in Washington, D.C.
“The Committee is engaged in an investigation that will allow us to determine whether to recommend articles of impeachment with respect to President Trump,” chairman Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., said. “Some call this process an impeachment inquiry. Some call it an impeachment investigation. There is no legal difference between these terms, and I no longer care to argue about the nomenclature.”
Rep. Doug Collins (R-GA) speaks during a House Judiciary Committee meeting regarding procedures related to its investigation to recommend articles of impeachment with respect to resident Donald Trump on Capitol Hill, Sept. 12, 2019.
Ranking Member Doug Collins compared the Democrats move to “a giant Instagram filter to make it appear that something is happening that is not.”
“The ambiguity — the confusion — is a product of my colleagues’ own making because there is an easy way to know exactly whether this committee is in impeachment proceedings: It’s called a vote — a vote of the full House of Representatives,” Collins said.
The new procedures — according to the committee — would allow staff counsel to participate in questioning for one hour during hearings and would allow the president to respond in writing to evidence the committee gathered.
“Under these procedures, when we have finished these hearings and considered as much evidence we are able to gather, we will decide whether to refer articles of impeachment to the House floor,” Nadler said.