(CNN) – The US House of Representatives is moving towards the next phase of its political trial investigation, and they scheduled a vote later this week on procedures that could quickly lead President Donald Trump to become the third president in the history of the United States in being subjected to a political trial.
The president of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, announced on Monday that the House will vote on Thursday to formalize the proceedings of the political trial investigation against Trump and Ukraine, in what will be the first time that this process is registered in the House .
The vote is a move towards the next stage of the investigation after several weeks of statements behind closed doors, since the Democrats said the resolution would establish rules for public hearings, grant due process rights to the White House and allow the information would be transferred to the commission that would finally consider the articles of the political trial.RELATED
House Democrats are discussing a time frame that would include political trial hearings before Thanksgiving and votes on whether Trump should be accused at Christmas, according to multiple Democratic sources. But Pelosi did not set a time frame at a closed-door leadership meeting on Monday where the resolution was discussed and has hesitated to do so, as the timing is subject to change depending on how the witnesses cooperate or if additional leads arise, they said Multiple Democratic sources.
Even so, the theory of work among Democrats is that there will be one or two more weeks of private statements, and that public hearings before the House Intelligence Commission could begin as early as the second week of November, when Congress returns of a one-week break.
The president of the Judicial Commission of the House of Representatives, Jerry Nadler, told CNN on Monday that it is "possible" that a vote be taken in his commission on the articles of political trial before Christmas. "I'd rather do it right," said the New York Democrat, adding that the panel would have to "get the reports of the other commissions first" that detail their findings.
The Judicial Commission may also hold its own public hearing before voting on the articles of political judgment, but that has not yet been decided.
Democrats say Thursday's vote is not a formal authorization of the political trial investigation, but nevertheless indicates that they are moving forward with the investigation despite resistance from several government witnesses to appear to testify. The decision to hold a vote comes after pressure from Republicans and the White House that the House should do so, and undermines the Trump administration's key discussion issue that the investigation was illegitimate because it did not receive a full vote of the camera.
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At the same time, Thursday's vote could put Democrats in Republican-trend districts in a difficult political position: Pelosi and Democratic leaders considered and decided not to take a formal vote to authorize the investigation earlier this month, in part due to concerns expressed by moderates in their political group.
Pelosi said in a letter to lawmakers on Monday that the House will move forward with voting on the procedures “to eliminate any doubt about whether the Trump administration can retain documents, avoid witness testimony, ignore duly authorized subpoenas, or continue obstructing the Chamber of Representatives. "
“This resolution establishes the procedure for the hearings open to the American people, authorizes the disclosure of the transcripts of the declarations, describes the procedures for transferring evidence to the Judicial Commission, since it considers possible articles of political judgment and establishes the rights of due process. for the president and his advisors, ”Pelosi wrote.
Democratic sources say the resolution was necessary to establish the exact procedures to transfer evidence from the House of Representatives Intelligence Commission to the House of Representatives Judicial Commission, and detail the procedures for conducting public hearings in the investigation of political judgment
A key detail to be voted on this week: the president of the House Intelligence Commission, Adam Schiff, wants to allow staff members to also participate in the interrogation, according to multiple sources.
Several sources said that this week's resolution surprised even the main members and leaders who were unaware of these plans.
The measure is not officially a vote to authorize the investigation, say Democratic sources, although they argue that the White House will have no reason to resist their subpoenas after this vote establishes the procedures as they move forward in the next steps.
Even so, Pelosi had previously said that he did not need to vote at all on the investigation of political judgment, calling it "the subject of republican conversation."
"There is no requirement that we have a vote, so at this time we will not have one and I am very happy with the consideration of our group with the path we are on," Pelosi said on October 15. We are not here to cheat. We are here to find the truth, to defend the United States Constitution, ”said Pelosi.
Republicans have attacked the process of political trial
But the vote will help Democrats reject the Republican argument that Democrats are conducting an investigation of illegitimate political trial behind closed doors. Republican lawmakers have repeatedly attacked Democrats for not voting in the investigation, while the White House has argued that it does not need to cooperate because the investigation is illegitimate.
The White House and House Republicans criticized the Democrats' plan to hold a vote, continuing their attack on the political trial investigation process.
“We will not be able to comment completely until we see the actual text, but President Pelosi is finally admitting what the rest of the United States already knew: that the Democrats were carrying out an unauthorized removal process, refusing to give due process to the President, and his secret, gloomy and closed-door statements are completely and irreversibly illegitimate, ”White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham said in a statement.
But the west wing advisers of the White House are still deciding privately what their strategy should be.
So far, they have argued that the Democrats were conducting an illegitimate investigation in secret, two aspects that could change with the vote to formalize it and hold public hearings.
The thought within the White House over the past few weeks has been that if the Democrats vote to authorize an investigation, the administration can no longer argue that the Democrats do not have a legislative purpose for their investigations. It would probably rob the Republicans of the point of discussion that this is a false investigation that has denied Trump his due process rights. It could force Republicans to focus solely on defending the president's actions, instead of attacking the process, which until now several key figures of his party have hesitated to do.
But there could be some benefits to the White House. A formal vote could mean that the White House can review the evidence gathered, have a lawyer present and question witnesses during statements at the Capitol.
Until now, Trump's advisors have been forced to learn about developments in news reports, and they are not given transcripts of what is said behind closed doors. At this time, officials say they are waiting to see what the text of the resolution says, although it is not clear where they will go from there.
Trump's allies in Congress are still attacking the process.
The minority leader of the House of Representatives, Kevin McCarthy, tweeted Monday that "34 days have passed since Nancy Pelosi unilaterally declared her political trial investigation."
"Today's setback is an admission that this process has been unsuccessful from the beginning," McCarthy, a California Republican, wrote in his tweet. "We will not legitimize the false accusation of Schiff and Pelosi."
Rep. Mark Meadows, a Republican from North Carolina, said the vote "was not the same" for what Republicans had been pushing unless it was to formally authorize the investigation.
“The House Democrats now suddenly say they will vote on a political trial resolution to 'ensure transparency' is rich, given that they have spent weeks conducting secret interviews, filtering their own conversation points while blocking any information that benefits the president, ”tweeted Meadows.
The Republican argument had not prevented many Trump administration officials from testifying under a subpoena, but on Monday, former National Security Council official Charles Kupperman challenged a subpoena after he filed a lawsuit Friday asking the courts to intervene and decide whether He had to comply with the citation.
"Given the issue of separation of powers in this matter, it would be reasonable and appropriate to expect all parties to want judicial clarity," Kupperman said in a statement on Monday.
Courts support the House of Representatives investigation
Still, the Democrats seemed to be on a solid legal basis without a vote: a federal judge told the House on Friday that a vote was not needed to authorize the political trial investigation.
Chief Judge Beryl Howell, of the Washington District Court, devoted six pages exclusively to this idea in a decision that the House should have access to the material of the investigative jury of former special prosecutor Robert Mueller, and wrote that “a resolution is not required of the 'political trial investigation' so that Congress receives the information it seeks.
"Even in cases of presidential impeachment, in fact, a House resolution has never been required to begin a recall investigation," the judge wrote. "The reality is that the Department of Justice and the White House have been openly obstructing the efforts of the Chamber to obtain information through citation and agreement."
The Justice Department appealed the ruling Monday.
It is not clear whether Thursday's vote in the House indicates that Democrats are ready to move on to the public phase of the political trial investigation, although public hearings could begin in mid-November.
Schiff declined to say whether the resolution meant that closed-door depositions would end soon. The three commissions leading the political trial investigation have statements scheduled for this week, and three other officials who have been summoned are scheduled to appear next week, although it is not clear if any of them will.
"We still have more statements to make, and I don't want to commit to a particular schedule, but we're moving quickly," Schiff told reporters.
The resolution of the Chamber's challenge is being presented by the House Rules Commission, which will mark the measure on Wednesday before the vote on Thursday.
"This is the right thing for the institution and the American people," House of Representatives Jim McGovern, a Democrat from Massachusetts, said in a statement.
– Kaitlan Collins, Pamela Brown, Allie Malloy, Katelyn Polantz, Haley Byrd and Kylie Atwood of CNN contributed to this report.