On September 24, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., declared that House Democrats would undertake an impeachment inquiry of President Trump, without putting the question up to a vote in the House of Representatives. On Wednesday morning, she was asked about that move twice, and she declined to directly answer -- twice.
One Capitol Hill reporter asked the Speaker, "have you taken off the table or do you plan for a full House vote on an impeachment inquiry?"
Pelosi answered, "First of all, there's no requirement that there be a floor vote. That's not anything that is excluded. And by the way, there's some Republicans very nervous about our bringing that bill -- that vote to the floor."
On Fox Nation's "Deep Dive," Wall Street Journal Editorial Board member Bill McGurn argued that Pelosi's decision to forego a floor vote and proceed to a so-called impeachment inquiry is "unprecedented," and that she did it for political purposes that may actually hinder the investigation.
"What does it say, though, that unlike in previous cases, Mrs. Pelosi didn't have a full vote of the House to proceed with impeachment. When Andrew Johnson was impeached... before they voted on the articles of impeachment they had a full vote of the House. The same happened in the Nixon and the Clinton impeachment efforts. There was a full vote... and now we have 'no' vote," said McGurn. "If we're hearing how serious impeachment is -- what does it say for Mrs. Pelosi to do this in a way that's without precedent? It's just a decree on her part."
Former Obama State Department official, David Tarfuri correctly observed that there is no Constitutional requirement for a vote in the House before an impeachment inquiry.
"The Constitution sets forth the impeachment process. It doesn't say anything about there having to be a vote for an impeachment inquiry to begin... What she's doing is examining the evidence which is what an inquiry is," said Tarfuri.
"The suspicion is she skipped it -- not because she doesn't have... enough votes -- but she wants for political reasons to protect the 31 Democrats, who won in Trump districts from having to be accountable for their vote. What she's done has no precedent."
McGurn said that Pelosi's decision may have been driven by the desire to provide political cover for vulnerable Democrats.
"She skipped the vote and the suspicion is she skipped it -- not because she doesn't have... enough votes -- but she wants for political reasons to protect the 31 Democrats who won in Trump districts from having to be accountable for their vote. What she's done has no precedent."
McGurn also raised the point that Pelosi may have effectively nutured the power of the Democrat-led committees investigating the President, by not securing the support of a majority of House members. As a result, courts may not treat the impeachment inquiry as seriously as they would have, and they may not force the Trump Administration to be responsive to the Democrats' requests.
"When you're chairing an impeachment hearing you have access to executive documents -- that you might not otherwise have -- that the executive could keep from you in a normal oversight or legislative hearing. But if it's just a matter of the Speaker saying 'Well, you're now in official impeachment' what does that mean? There's going be a lot of fights over these documents," said McGurn.
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