The panel has reportedly rebranded an oversight probe of Trump’s presidency as an “impeachment” investigation, aiming to decide by the end of the year on whether to recommend articles of impeachment to the House, Reuters reported. The source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told the news agency that committee members might vote on a measure that would better define the investigation as soon as Wednesday.
The committee’s current impeachment approach has been criticized by Republicans for avoiding a precedent set during impeachment inquiries against former President Richard Nixon and former President Bill Clinton, where inquiries were formally authorized by the full House. This time, however, Democrats have tried to avoid a House vote that could prove risky for Democratic freshmen from swing districts where impeachment is unpopular with voters.
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler had reportedly been focused on the findings of former Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into alleged Russian election meddling in the 2016 presidential election and evidence of Trump’s potential obstruction of justice during the probe. Mueller neither concluded that Trump committed obstruction nor exonerated him on the matter, leaving the judgement to the Congress. Nadler’s investigation has since expanded to include allegations that Trump has improperly mixed his business interests with his role as president, and paid money during the 2016 campaign to silence women claiming to have had affairs with him.
The details are still being negotiated, but a procedural vote next week could set rules for the hearings, according to the source. The resolution would allow staff attorneys to question hearing witnesses, set procedures for closed-door reviews of grand jury material, allow White House counsel to respond in writing to the committee and usher in other changes.
It remains unclear whether the panel would recommend a new resolution for a full House vote. At least 134 House Democrats support an impeachment inquiry, according to Reuters, which is below the 218 votes needed for the House to approve an impeachment resolution.