The House of Representatives voted 232-196 on Thursday to establish rules for the impeachment of President Donald Trump.
The vote was almost entirely on party lines, with only two Democrats opposed to the measure and zero Republicans voting in favor.
The resolution allows for public hearings and the release of transcripts of closed-door depositions, and affords Trump’s attorneys the opportunity to participate in the hearings before the Judiciary Committee.
“I don’t know why the Republicans are afraid of the truth,” said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. “What is at stake is nothing less than our democracy.”
The Democrats launched the inquiry last month, after a whistleblower reported that Trump had improperly urged the president of Ukraine to open an investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden. The House Intelligence Committee has held a series of depositions of executive branch officials in closed-door hearings. Democrats hope to wrap up the impeachment by the end of the year.
The White House has resisted subpoenas on the argument that the inquiry is invalid because the full House has not authorized it. Pelosi has argued that there is no Constitutional obligation for a vote, but decided to hold one anyway to remove doubt about the validity of the process.
Rep. Steve Scalise, the minority whip, argued that the rules laid out in the resolution would set up a “Soviet-style” tribunal, with inadequate provisions for the House minority.
Rep. Devin Nunes, the ranking Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, said that Democrats were behaving like a “cult,” lining up behind Chairman Adam Schiff.
“These are a group of people loyally following their leader as he bounces from one outlandish conspiracy to another, and the media are the cult followers,” Nunes said.
The rules allow the ranking Republican on the intelligence and judiciary committees to subpoena witnesses and documents with the approval of the Democratic chair. If the chair denies a request, the ranking member may appeal to the full committee.
The guidelines also allow the president’s attorneys to attend the impeachment hearings in the Judiciary Committee, present evidence and cross-examine witnesses. The Judiciary Committee has argued that the procedures are consistent with the impeachments of Presidents Bill Clinton and Richard Nixon.