The vote will take place on Thursday, and it will be presented as whether to “affirm” the inquiry… which seems to say that they don’t want to admit that they were doing it wrong, just asking for an affirmation.
Democrats are good enough. They’re smart enough. And doggone it, people like them.
My first thought was, the Democrats are in trouble, they know the impeachment inquiry is dragging them down, and they want the vote to fail. But here’s how Nancy Pelosi put it:
“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…. 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.”
In other words, the procedural arguments are damaging and distracting, and they want to knock them out of the picture.
House Democrats will forgo using the federal courts to try to compel testimony from recalcitrant witnesses in their impeachment inquiry, a top Democratic chairman said Monday, warning that lawmakers would instead use the lack of cooperation to bolster their case that President Trump has abused his office and obstructed Congress’s investigation.
Representative Adam B. Schiff, Democrat of California and the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, confirmed the shift in strategy after Charles M. Kupperman, the former deputy national security adviser and one of Mr. Trump’s “closest confidential” advisers, defied a House subpoena for testimony that had been scheduled for Monday morning.
The White House on Friday said that Mr. Kupperman was absolutely immune from testifying and directed him not to appear in defiance of a subpoena. That prompted the former official to file a lawsuit against Mr. Trump and congressional Democrats asking a federal judge whether he could testify, raising the prospect of a drawn-out legal battle over weighty questions about the separation of powers that could effectively stall the impeachment inquiry for months….
“We are not willing to let the White House engage us in a lengthy game of rope-a-dope in the courts, so we press ahead,” Mr. Schiff told reporters outside his secure hearing rooms.
The formal vote on the inquiry will help address some of the procedural arguments about the impeachment inquiry, but I don’t see how it can change the scope of executive privilege. It sounds as though the House Democrats plan simply to argue for negative inferences based on the withholding of testimony.
And notice that Kupperman has filed his own lawsuit, so it’s not the House Democrats who are asking a court to pass judgment on the scope of executive privilege. This lawsuit seems to have triggered the decision to have a formal vote on the inquiry. House Democrats may be thinking that the argument against executive privilege is stronger if the whole House has voted or that by demonstrating a better standard of procedural regularity, they may influence the judge to avoid the case without reaching the merits.
Alternatively, the House Democrats know they’re cornered and are hoping Thursday’s vote is no.