President Donald Trump’s attorneys would be permitted to review some of Congress’s impeachment-related evidence under a set of procedures unveiled Monday by the House Judiciary Committee, part of a plan to spell out the panel’s authorities as it intensifies its consideration of articles of impeachment.
The measure, obtained by POLITICO, would also allow smaller groups of lawmakers on the Judiciary panel’s subcommittees to consider evidence — a step that could streamline and hasten its review. It would also allow committee staffers for both the Democratic and Republican sides of the panel to question witnesses for an extra hour, part of an effort to elicit more useful information.
The Judiciary Committee will vote on the resolution on Thursday.
“The unprecedented corruption, coverup, and crimes by the president are under investigation by the committee as we determine whether to recommend articles of impeachment or other Article 1 remedies,” Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) said in a statement. “The adoption of these additional procedures is the next step in that process and will help ensure our impeachment hearings are informative to Congress and the public, while providing the president with the ability to respond to evidence presented against him.”
Though the measure is largely technical — it’s titled “Resolution for Investigative Procedures” — it is the first effort by lawmakers to acknowledge the committee’s consideration of whether to recommend Trump’s impeachment, following a six-week recess during which many House Democrats expressed confusion about the status of impeachment proceedings.
Until this week, the committee had been writing in court filings that it is actively considering whether to recommend articles of impeachment against the president, the first such acknowledgment. In addition, Nadler has referred to his committee’s probe as “formal impeachment proceedings.”
But Speaker Nancy Pelosi has continued to resist a formal impeachment inquiry, leading to confusion among some House Democrats over the Judiciary panel’s investigation.
Allowing the president’s lawyers to access evidence and witnesses is the latest move by the Judiciary Committee to make its long-running probes of Trump look more like impeachment inquiries that occurred during the Nixon and Clinton presidencies. One such procedure that mirrors past impeachment processes involves sensitive grand-jury materials. The resolution allows lawmakers to review such evidence in classified settings.
Republicans were already accusing Democrats on Monday of trying to circumvent House rules by refusing to hold a full House vote on opening an impeachment inquiry.
“Judiciary Democrats are trying to pull a fast one on Americans,” said Georgia Rep. Doug Collins, the top Republican on the Judiciary panel. “They know they don’t have the votes for the whole House to impeach, so they’re trying to adopt committee rules to govern an ‘impeachment investigation’ the House hasn’t even authorized.”
The measure largely focuses on former special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, which included allegations that Trump sought to obstruct justice by thwarting the probe.
The resolution does not, however, mention recent allegations that Trump has violated the Constitution’s emoluments clauses, even as House Democrats have ramped up their rhetoric about the potential violations in the wake of Vice President Mike Pence’s recent stay at a Trump-owned property in Ireland, and Trump’s public suggestion that the next G7 summit be held at his resort in Doral, Florida.
“Trump’s crimes and corruption extend beyond what is detailed in the Mueller report,” Nadler added. “The president is in violation of the emoluments clauses of the Constitution as he works to enrich himself, putting the safety and security of our nation at risk.”
The committee is also expected to review Trump’s alleged role in an illegal hush-money scheme to silence women who alleged that they had affairs with him, in addition to reports that he offered to pardon officials who carry out his immigration agenda.