WASHINGTON ― After weeks of speculation and Republican calls for a House vote on an impeachment inquiry, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) announced at a press conference Tuesday night that ... nothing has changed.
Pelosi met with reporters following a closed-door meeting with House Democrats during which she told lawmakers there was no reason to hold a vote on authorizing an inquiry on whether to impeach President Donald Trump.
“There’s no requirement that we have a vote, and at this time, we will not be having a vote,” Pelosi said.
As Republicans have argued for a formal up-or-down tally on opening an inquiry, the chamber’s Democratic majority hasn’t been clamoring for one.
Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.) said that at the closed-door meeting, applause greeted a Democratic member’s comments that a vote was unnecessary.
“It’s not necessary,” Cicilline said. “Why would we do it?”
Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) echoed his colleague, saying, “It’s a totally unnecessary vote.”
When a reporter noted that Republicans have pointed to the lack of a formal inquiry vote as a reason for officials to ignore congressional subpoenas, Lieu suggested that appeasing a bad faith argument was pointless.
“Their legal arguments are stupid,” he said.
Rep. Jared Huffman (D-Calif.) Huffman added that all Democrats ― even the caucus’ more liberal lawmakers, like himself ― were comfortable with leadership’s strategy for the impeachment inquiry. “And today was helpful because it was a chance to further explain why we’re doing what we’re doing,” he said.
Pelosi said of the inquiry, “This is not a game for us. This is deadly serious.”
Democrats have made no firm commitment about the possible timing of a vote on impeaching Trump, in part because they want to avoid undermining the investigations into the matter with that sort of deadline. But it’s also clear Democrats have a goal to put forward articles of impeachment before the 020 election year.
Republicans have seized on the time issues as well, accusing Democrats of pre-judging the House Intelligence Committee’s investigation into Trump’s controversial July phone call with the Ukraine president that kicked the impeachment inquiry into high gear. GOP lawmakers also have objected that the committee’s probe is being conducted behind-closed-doors.
Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) continues to defend the private hearings, saying they help ensure that witnesses don’t coordinate answers.
Republicans “don’t want to discuss the president’s conduct,” Schiff said as he joined Pelosi at her press conference. “They’d much rather discuss the process.”
Pelosi agreed. “They have no substance,” she said of Republicans. “They can’t defend the president, so they’re going to process.”