House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has announced the House will finally hold a vote on impeachment proceedings, an effort to silence Republican complaints about secrecy – and force witnesses to respond to subpoenas.
A resolution “that affirms the ongoing, existing investigation that is currently being conducted by our committees” will be introduced in the House later this week 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,” Pelosi said in a statement released on Monday.
While Pelosi dismissed Trump and his supporters’ argument that the House’s impeachment probe “lacks the necessary authorization” due to its not having been voted upon, the absence of a vote has already been used as an excuse for witnesses to skip hearings.
Republican members of Congress stormed a closed hearing earlier this month in protest of the secretive nature of the proceedings, in which only members of the Intelligence, Oversight, and Foreign Affairs committees are permitted to observe witness interviews.
A vote affirming the impeachment proceedings will lend some weight to the investigation’s subpoenas, which are already being ignored. House Democrats have threatened Charles Kupperman, former deputy to ex-National Security Adviser John Bolton, with contempt charges after Kupperman not only failed to appear in response to a subpoena on Monday but filed a lawsuit questioning his need to appear at all. Kupperman was reportedly listening in on the phone call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky that is at the center of the impeachment probe.
The White House has ordered current and former employees not to cooperate with the probe, which the president’s counsel Pat Cipollone slammed as a “partisan and unconstitutional inquiry” lacking in “any legitimate constitutional foundation, any pretense of fairness, or even the most elementary due process protections” in a letter addressed to Pelosi and the committee chairs earlier this month.