In an effort to disarm Republicans' concerns about the legitimacy of the House of Representatives' impeachment probe of President Donald Trump, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) announced that the House will hold a formal vote on the matter later this week.
In a "dear colleague" letter sent to fellow Democrats on Monday, the speaker announced that the House will vote on a resolution "that affirms the ongoing, existing investigation that is currently being conducted by our committees as part of this impeachment inquiry, including all requests for documents, subpoenas for records and testimony, and any other investigative steps previously taken or to be taken as part of this investigation."
As a reason for the vote, Pelosi's letter points to the White House's criticism that the investigation is illegitimate because there hasn't yet been an authorizing vote of the whole House on the matter. In an eight-page legal letter sent to top House Democrats weeks ago, White House Council Pat Cipollone said the current process "lacks the necessary authorization for a valid impeachment proceeding."
"Of course, this argument has no merit," Pelosi said in the letter, citing the Constitution and a federal judge's recent ruling saying a floor vote wasn't necessary. But "We are taking this step 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."
House Rules Committee Chairman Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) said he will introduce the resolution Tuesday and that his committee will mark it up Wednesday afternoon. This would set things up for an expected Thursday vote.
An authorizing vote is just one part of the argument the White House and congressional Republicans have made against the current design of the probe. Others, as outlined in the White House counsel's letter and a Senate resolution announced by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) last week include — among others — the inability of the president to have his own counsel present at hearings and to call his own witnesses, as well as the investigating committees' Republican ranking members' inability to issue their own subpoenas.