The House Judiciary Committee, in its first impeachment-related vote, passed a resolution Thursday that outlines the rules and scope of its impeachment investigation into President Trump, CNN first reported.
The party-line vote, which did not require approval from the broader House, grants committee chairman Jerry Nadler the authority to officially deem committee hearings “impeachment hearings,” and allows congressional staff to question witnesses called before the panel for one hour after lawmakers finish their questioning.
The resolution also entitles Trump’s lawyers to respond to public testimony in writing and allows the committee to review evidence behind closed doors.
“This Committee is engaged in an investigation that will allow us to determine whether to recommend articles of impeachment with respect to President Trump. Some call this process an impeachment inquiry. Some call it an impeachment investigation. There is no legal difference between these terms, and I no longer care to argue about the nomenclature,” Nadler said during his opening statement Thursday. “But let me clear up any remaining doubt: The conduct under investigation poses a threat to our democracy. We have an obligation to respond to this threat. And we are doing so.”
Representative Doug Collins, the ranking Republican on the panel, cast the vote as a pointless gesture designed to make ordinary oversight efforts seem more threatening to the president while allowing Democrats to avoid the potentially costly effort to actually impeach him.
“The difference between formal impeachment proceedings and what we’re doing today is a world apart no matter what the chairman just said,” Collins said. “The chairman can do this at any time, because he wants the appearance of something that it’s not. You’re not in an impeachment inquiry.”
Former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski is scheduled to testify before the committee on Tuesday.