The U.S. House of Representatives is preparing for a procedural vote to formalize the impeachment inquiry related to President Donald Trump’s dealings with Ukraine. The vote is planned for Thursday.
Stephen Vladeck is a professor at the University of Texas School of Law, and says Democrats in the House don’t need to vote in order to proceed with the impeachment inquiry. But they plan to do so anyway.
“I think the vote at this point is just meant to defuse the controversy, maybe even the fake controversy that Republicans, that President Trump had tried to stir up over the absence of a vote,” Vladeck says.
For moderate Democrats whose constituents are not as solidly in support of an impeachment inquiry, the probe puts their political careers at risk. But Vladeck says the risk is outweighed by mounting pressure from others to pursue the investigation.
“I think the much harder vote for Democrats in swing districts is going to be the one at the end of this process, not the beginning,” Vladeck says.
Meanwhile, Vladeck says Republicans haven’t been attacking the substance of accusations against the president. Instead, they’ve challenged the lack of a formal authorization for the inquiry. A vote this week would blunt that charge, Vladeck says.
“The real shortsightedness of that game plan is that it’s easy enough to fix the process errors, and all of a sudden you have Republicans who are now complaining that it’s a bell that can’t be unrung,” Vladeck says. “There’s no substantive defense of the president and of the misconduct he is alleged to have engaged in.”
Secretary of Energy Rick Perry is among those whom Congress has subpoenaed to testify as part of the impeachment inquiry, but he has refused to appear. Vladeck says it’s unlikely this week’s vote will cause Perry or others who’ve refused to change their minds.
“Color me skeptical that the witnesses who have thus far been saying they won’t come until there’s a formal vote are all of a sudden gonna show up,” he says.
Vladeck expects Republicans to find another argument in support of the president once the House votes in favor of the impeachment inquiry.
Written by Shelly Brisbin.