A sharply divided House of Representatives on Thursday passed a resolution to authorize the ongoing impeachment inquiry, including open hearings, taking a pivotal new step in the process to investigate President Donald Trump’s dealings with Ukraine.
The mostly party-line vote was the first time members of the House have formally gone on record to support or object to the ongoing impeachment inquiry.
Here is how vote and debate unfolded — and how Republicans and Democrats tried to spin it afterward.
In separate news conferences after the vote, Republicans and Democrats continued to sharply disagree about the lasting impact of the impeachment process.
Republicans accused Democrats and Speaker Nancy Pelosi of politicizing the impeachment process and ignoring the other work of Congress.
“If you look at where we are right now, were at an important point in history. Clearly there are people that we serve with that don’t like the result of the 2016 election. That is their prerogative. But the country next year will be deciding who our president is going to be. It should not be Nancy Pelosi and a small group of people that she selects that get to determine who is going to be our president,” Minority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., said.
But Democrats, in their news conference, said they see themselves as being on the right side of history.
“We recognize the seriousness of this undertaking. We recognize that we have been compelled by the circumstances to move forward. When the president abuses his or her office, when a president sacrifice is national interest, when the president refuses to defend the constitution and does so for the purpose of advancing a personal or political agenda, the founders provided the remedy,” Rep. Adam Schiff, the Democrat leading the impeachment probe, said.
“I make no prejudgment as to whether that remedy will be warranted when we finish these hearings. I will wait until all the facts are put forward. We will undertake this duty with the seriousness it deserves and to the best of our ability,” he said.
Just after the final vote is announced, Trump tweets, “The Greatest Witch Hunt In American History!”
“With today’s vote, Speaker Pelosi and the Democrats have done nothing more than enshrine unacceptable violations of due process into House rules,” White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham says in a statement. “The Democrats want to render a verdict without giving the Administration a chance to mount a defense. That is unfair, unconstitutional, and fundamentally un-American.”
The resolution passes the full House.
Pelosi announces the final vote from the chair, 232 for the resolution and 196 against.
ABC News’ John Parkinson reports all Republicans voted against the measure, joined by two Democrats, Rep. Collin Peterson, D-Minn., and Rep. Jeff Van Drew, D. N.J.
Four lawmakers skipped the vote — three Republicans and one Democrat.
ABC News’ Ben Gittleson reports Trump tweeted as the House headed to a final vote.
“The Impeachment Hoax is hurting our Stock Market. The Do Nothing Democrats don’t care!,” he said.
ABC News’ Jordyn Phelps reports that a senior administration official confirms that Republicans lawmakers will be heading to the White House following the final vote.
The House has begun a roll call vote on the impeachment rules resolution with Speaker Nancy Pelosi wielding the gavel.
The House has begun to vote to end debate on the impeachment resolution, which will be followed by a vote on the resolution itself.
Minority Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy questioned Pelosi’s focus on impeachment, saying the legacy of the Democrat-led House will be “more subpoenas than laws.”
“We are not working for the American people, those items would resemble the achievements of a productive Congress, a Congress that truly works for the people. But you know what this Congress counts? This Congress records more subpoenas than laws, that’s the legacy,” McCarthy said, mentioning that the agenda Thursday was impeachment and not the federal budget or other policy issues.
McCarthy also accused Democrats of making impeachment a focus in order to help defeat Trump in the 2020 presidential election.
“This impeachment is not only an attempt to undo the last election, it is an attempt to influence the next one as well,” he said.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the impeachment inquiry is part of Congress’ constitutional responsibility to hold the executive branch accountable.
“This Constitution is the blueprint for our republic—and not a monarchy. But when we have a president who says Article Two says I can do whatever I want, that is in defiance of the separation of powers. That’s not what the Constitution says,” Pelosi said in the well of the House.
“So, what is at stake is our democracy. What are we fighting for? Defending our Democracy for the people,” Pelosi said.
Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Adam Schiff defended the investigation being handled by his committee as well as the Oversight and Foreign Affairs committees, saying the resolution would allow the public process many Republicans have been calling for.
“That work has necessarily occurred behind closed doors because we have had the task of finding the facts ourselves without the benefit of the investigation the Justice department declined to undertake. Despite attempts to obstruct we have interviewed numerous witnesses,” Schiff said.
“This resolution sets the stage for the next phase of our investigation, one in which the American people will have the opportunity to hear from witnesses firsthand. We will continue to conduct this inquiry with the seriousness of purpose that our task deserves because it is our duty and because no one is above the law,” he said.
But Democrats weren’t celebrating the step as they kicked off debate Thursday morning.
“This is a sad day for our country,” Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Mass., and chairman of the House Rules Committee, said.
“For all the disagreements I have with President Trump, for all his policies, his tweets, and his rhetoric that I deeply disagree with, I never wanted our country to reach this point. I do not take any pleasure for the need of this resolution,” he said. “We are not here in some partisan exercise. We are here because the facts compel us to be here. There is serious evidence that President Trump may have violated the Constitution.”
The White House and Republicans have demanded a formal vote to authorize the inquiry, calling the proceedings so far illegitimate even though congressional committees have the authority to subpoena witnesses and documents as part of an investigation.
But Republicans slammed the vote Thursday, saying they still see it as a partisan process and a “show trial” meant to attack the president.
You can read the rest of John Parkinson and Stephanie Ebbs’ article at ABCnews.com