Democrats set Thursday vote on US House path in Trump impeachment probe

WASHINGTON D.C., May 25, 2019 (Xinhua) — U.S. President Donald Trump speaks to reporters before leaving the White House in Washington D.C., the United States, on May 24, 2019. Donald Trump said on Friday that his country will send about 1,500 additional troops to the Middle East amid escalating tension with Iran. Trump told reporters at the White House that the extra deployment, which is “relatively small number of troops,” is mainly a protective measure. (Xinhua/Ting Shen/IANS)

WASHINGTON (Rahnuma): Democrats in Congress, answering Republican complaints that their impeachment investigation of US President Donald Trump is being conducted in secret, plan a vote on Thursday on a format for going public with their inquiry, marking a significant new stage in the probe.

Trump and his fellow Republicans have for weeks branded as illegitimate the work of committees probing Trump’s overtures to Ukraine, arguing the full Democratic-led House of Representatives had failed to authorize their investigations in a public vote.

Meeting behind closed doors, the House Intelligence, Foreign Affairs and Oversight committees have been looking into the possibility that Trump violated federal law by seeking foreign help for his November 2020 re-election efforts.

Meanwhile, House Rules Committee Chairman James McGovern said on Monday: “I will be introducing a resolution to ensure transparency and provide a clear path forward.”

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff said in a statement that the legislation would establish “a format for open hearings.”

The US Constitution gives the House broad authority to set ground rules for an impeachment inquiry and Democrats say they are following House rules on investigations.

Several administration officials, including a former deputy national security adviser on Monday, have failed to testify to House committees engaged in the probe.

In a letter to her fellow House Democrats, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the House will vote this week — on Thursday, according to a senior Democratic aide — on a resolution that spells out how future public hearings will be held.

Pelosi promised to provide legal protections for Trump.

A source familiar with the probe said the public hearings will be held by the Intelligence Committee and that the transcripts from closed depositions with witnesses will be made public. A senior House Democratic aide said the hearings could begin within the next month.

The measure will set the stage for House investigating committees to forward evidence they have collected to the House Judiciary Committee, which then would decide whether to advance articles of impeachment against Trump.

Even if the House impeaches Trump, he would face a trial in the Republican-controlled Senate, which for the moment seems unlikely to convict the president and force his ouster.

Impeachment requires a simple majority in the 435-member House but conviction demands the support of a two-thirds majority in the 100-member Senate.

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