The U.S. House of Representatives voted on Thursday to approve a resolution designed to formalize proceedings of an impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump.
The resolution, unveiled earlier this week by the House Rules Committee, was passed 232-196 by the Democratic-controlled House. No Republicans voted in favor of it.
According to a text of the resolution, it establishes procedures for public impeachment hearings and the release of deposition transcripts, and outlines the House Judiciary Committee’s role in considering potential articles of impeachment.
This was the first time that the House had taken a full chamber vote related to the impeachment inquiry since House Speaker Nancy Pelosi initiated it in late September.
Trump, in tweets Thursday morning, called the impeachment inquiry the “greatest witch hunt in American history” and claimed that it was hurting the nation’s stock market.
White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham issued a statement in response to the resolution, accusing it of still failing to “provide any due process whatsoever” to the Trump administration.
The impeachment inquiry was triggered by an anonymous whistleblower who had raised concerns about the White House’s interactions with Ukraine, including a July 25 phone call between Trump and his Ukrainian counterpart, Volodymyr Zelensky.
Trump was alleged to have abused power by using a military aid to pressure Zelensky into investigating former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, the leading 2020 Democratic presidential candidate, so as to help his re-election campaign.
Trump has denied any wrongdoing. The White House has dismissed those allegations and made clear that it will not cooperate with House investigators by providing documents or witnesses because it considered the ongoing impeachment inquiry unfair and illegitimate.
House Democrats have argued that there is no need to hold a full chamber vote to authorize the impeachment inquiry, citing the nation’s Constitution stating that the House “shall have the sole Power of Impeachment.”
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff said Thursday’s resolution will “set the stage” for the next phase of the impeachment inquiry, where it will be conducted in public.
According to the resolution, Schiff and Republican ranking member Devin Nunes, during public hearings, are able to engage witnesses for up to 90 minutes. It also allows committee aides to conduct questioning.
Besides, it directs Schiff to furnish a report with his committee’s findings and recommendations as well as transfer records and materials to the House Judiciary Committee, which will be tasked with drafting articles of impeachment.
The president will be impeached if the House approves any of the articles of impeachment by a simple majority vote.
However, conviction of the president can only happen in the Senate and requires at least two-thirds of its members, or 67 senators, to vote in favor. Currently, the Senate has 53 Republicans, 45 Democrats and two independents. Enditem