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With House Democrats barreling toward impeaching President Trump, Speaker Nancy Pelosi is continuing to stave off a full House vote authorizing a formal inquiry – a step Republicans argue not only insulates vulnerable Democrats running in red districts but shuts down the GOP’s ability to wage a legal offensive of its own.
House Democrats who support Trump’s impeachment have more than enough votes to follow through, with 223 now backing his ouster compared to just 12 holdouts, several tallies show.
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So far, however, Pelosi has declined to hold a vote on moving forward with the inquiry, and her aides make a point of saying it’s not required.
“There is no requirement under the Constitution, House Rules or House precedent that the House has to take a vote before proceeding with an impeachment inquiry,” Pelosi spokeswoman Ashley Etienne told RealClearPolitics in a statement. “The Committees of the House now have robust authority under the House’s existing rules to conduct investigations for all matters within their jurisdiction, including impeachment investigations.”
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“For several decades, impeachment investigations have frequently been conducted without a full vote,” Etienne added.
But Republicans are quick to point out that in the only presidential impeachment investigations to have taken place over the last four decades – those against Presidents Bill Clinton and Richard Nixon — the House voted on the inquiry, thus authorizing the Judiciary Committee to investigate.
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This time, that committee is not driving the train. Instead, when the House is in recess the next two weeks, members of two panels -- House Intelligence, Oversight and Government Reform, and Foreign Affairs -- plan to hold hearings and interviews on impeachment.
Holding a formal vote on impeachment, conservative legal experts say, would allow Republicans to subpoena documents and witnesses and investigate all the revelations surrounding the whistleblower’s complaint about Trump’s interactions with Ukraine, as well...
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