04:43 GMT +318 November 2019
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    US House Plans Thursday Vote to Formalize Impeachment Proceedings

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    House Democrats have announced they will vote on Thursday to formalize procedures for the next phase of their impeachment inquiry into US President Donald Trump.

    House Rules Committee Chairman Jim McGovern (D-MA) said in a Monday statement the committee was readying a resolution for Thursday that will "ensure transparency and provide a clear path forward" for the impeachment inquiry headed by the US House of Representatives.

    House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) elaborated in a statement of her own shortly thereafter, saying, "This week, we will bring a resolution to the floor that affirms the ongoing, existing investigation that is currently being conducted by our committees as part of this impeachment inquiry, including all requests for documents, subpoenas for records and testimony, and any other investigative steps previously taken or to be taken as part of this investigation."

    "This resolution establishes the procedure for hearings that are open to the American people, authorizes the disclosure of deposition transcripts, outlines procedures to transfer evidence to the Judiciary Committee as it considers potential articles of impeachment, and sets forth due process rights for the president and his counsel," Pelosi's statement continues. "We are taking this step to eliminate any doubt as to whether the Trump administration may withhold documents, prevent witness testimony, disregard duly authorized subpoenas, or continue obstructing the House of Representatives. Nobody is above the law."

    The move comes just hours after Deputy National Security Adviser Charles Kupperman refused to appear before the trio of House committees carrying out the impeachment inquiry to give a deposition. Kupperman filed a lawsuit on Friday seeking guidance from a federal judge following the House's subpoena, which the White House had previously directed officials not to obey. Having not received an answer, the adviser declined to appear, as he noted in the lawsuit he “cannot satisfy the competing demands of both the legislative and executive branches.” 

    "We are not willing to allow the White House to engage us in a lengthy game of rope-a-dope in the courts," House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff said Monday after Kupperman failed to appear. "We expect that the court will make short shrift of that argument, but nonetheless, we move forward."

    On October 15, Pelosi and Schiff said in a joint press conference that despite the Trump administration's claim that the House impeachment inquiry lacked legitimacy and legality until put to a vote in the whole 435-person legislative chamber, “there is no requirement that we have a vote and so at this time we will not be having a vote."

    On Monday evening, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) claimed victory in light of the news about the House vote, saying his own resolution condemning Democrats' actions "forced their hand."

    "The American people have been outraged by the unfair nature and lack of due process House Democrats have given to President Trump," Graham said in the statement. "I take pride in the fact that our vigorous response to their underhanded tactics ended up making the House Democrat position untenable. Today, they were forced to change course."

    "Finally, I look forward to reviewing their proposal and ensuring it provides President Trump with the rights and privileges Republicans afforded former President [Bill] Clinton during the 1998 impeachment process."

    The subject of the inquiry is a July 25 phone call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and the circumstances under which Trump pressed Zelenskyy to investigate former US Vice President Joe Biden's actions vis-a-vis Ukraine in 2016.

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