The U.S. House of Representatives voted 232-196 Thursday (Oct. 31) to formally open an impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump over his handling of military aid to Ukraine and possible abuse of power in his request to have foreign leaders investigate a political opponent, former Vice-president Joe Biden.
Congressional leaders have been holding closed hearings for weeks on the impeachment probe, but today’s largely party line vote formalized the inquiry. All four of Arkansas’ GOP representatives voted against the inquiry.
The vote diminishes attacks from Republicans that there has not been a formal vote to start a probe, although complaints will continue about the process. Today’s move sets the rules and procedures for the public phase of the impeachment inquiry, which is expected to take weeks if not months to conclude.
At the heart of the controversy, President Trump has been accused of withholding military aid to Ukraine in exchange for the newly elected president of that country, Volodymyr Zelensky, opening a public investigation into a company that former Vice-president Joe Biden’s son, Hunter, served on. A call summary of their July 25th conversation included the president saying he needed a favor from Zelensky.
Trump has also been accused of making a visit to the White House contingent on Zelensky making public statements about investigating Biden, a leading contender for the Democratic Presidential nomination in 2020, as well as alleged Ukranian election tampering in the 2016 U.S. Presidential election.
Two Democrats did not vote with the majority to open the impeachment inquiry and former Republican, now Independent, Congressman Justin Amash of Texas sided with the Democrats. You can read the resolution at this link.
Arkansas’ all-GOP Congressional delegation voted against the resolution.
U.S. Rep. Rick Crawford, R-Jonesboro, said: “The Democrat’s resolution flies in the face of both precedent and House rules while strengthening Chairman Schiff’s grip over information. If a private citizen’s Sixth Amendment rights were being violated in the way President Trump’s are, there would be large public outrage. Today, I joined 195 of my colleagues in standing up for due process and trusting the system our Founding Fathers created.”
U.S. Rep. French Hill, R-Little Rock, said: “Speaker Pelosi announced her initial ‘impeachment inquiry’ 38 days ago. Over the last five weeks, Democrat leaders have run a secretive, partisan impeachment inquiry, hidden away from members of Congress, that is unprecedented and unfair to the central Arkansans I represent. Despite claiming that no House vote is needed, Speaker Pelosi is now trying to save face by passing a resolution that codifies her ongoing, one-sided impeachment process that lacks any semblance of due process.
“In the text of today’s resolution, Democrat leadership blatantly deviates from historical precedent by altering the language used to establish impeachment proceedings under both President Nixon in 1974 and President Clinton in 1998. During those impeachment proceedings, the process was collaborative, and the minority had equal participation.
“While Democrat leaders have obsessed over undoing the results of the 2016 election, they have completely lost sight of their responsibility to address important issues facing the American people. Instead of doubling-down on a partisan impeachment inquiry, they should work with Republicans to pass on-time government funding, reduce health care costs, and pass USMCA.”
U.S. Rep. Steve Womack, R-Rogers, said: “From day one of his Presidency, House Democrats have been focused on one thing — removal of the duly elected President of the United States. This latest attempt, shrouded in secrecy, is neither warranted nor constructive to dealing with the myriad of challenges facing our nation. I came here to work on solutions, and this impeachment charade is counterproductive to our work.”
U.S. Rep. Bruce Westerman, R-Hot Springs, said: “Today’s impeachment vote came 37 days after Speaker Pelosi first declared an impeachment inquiry. This is an attempt by House Democrats to backtrack and rubber stamp the same process they’ve already been conducting for weeks. I’ve read the resolution, and seen exactly how Adam Schiff will retain control over his secret hearings and subpoena power. It’s a sham process that all Republicans and two Democrats condemned.”