Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., talks
to reporters just before the House vote on a
resolution to formalize the impeachment
investigation of President Donald Trump, in
Washington, Thursday, Oct. 31, 2019.
Democrats rammed a package of ground rules for their
impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump through a
sharply divided House Thursday, the chamber's first
formal vote in a fight that could stretch into the 2020
The tally was 232-196, with all Republicans who voted
opposing the resolution and just two Democratic
defectors joining them: freshman Rep. Jeff Van Drew of
New Jersey and 15-term veteran Rep. Collin Peterson of
Minnesota, one of his party's most conservative members.
Both represent GOP-leaning districts.
The vote laid down the rules as lawmakers transition
from weeks of closed-door interviews with witnesses to
public hearings and ultimately to possible votes on
whether to recommend Trump's removal from office.
The action also took on more than technical meaning,
with each party aware that the impeachment effort looms
as a defining issue for next year's presidential and
The vote, which occurred on Halloween, drew a familiar
Twitter retort from Trump: "The greatest Witch Hunt in
White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham accused
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats of an
"unhinged obsession with this illegitimate impeachment
During the debate, Democrats spoke of lawmakers' duty to
defend the Constitution, while Republicans cast the
process as a skewed attempt to railroad a president whom
Democrats have detested since before he took office.
"What is at stake in all this is nothing less than our
democracy," said Pelosi. Underscoring her point, she
addressed the House with a poster of the American flag
beside her and began her remarks by reading the opening
lines of the preamble to the Constitution.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., said
Trump had done nothing impeachable and accused Democrats
of trying to remove him "because they are scared they
cannot defeat him at the ballot box."
No. 3 House GOP leader Steve Scalise, R-La., accused
Democrats of imposing "Soviet-style rules," speaking in
front of a bright red poster depicting St. Basil's
Cathedral on Red Square in Moscow.
Independent Rep. Justin Amash of Michigan, who left the
Republican Party earlier this year after saying he was
open to considering whether Trump should be impeached,
also backed the measure.
The investigation is focused on Trump's efforts to push
Ukraine to investigate his Democratic political
opponents by withholding military aid and an Oval Office
meeting craved by the country's new president.
Democrats said the procedures — which give them the
ability to curb the president's lawyers from calling
witnesses — are similar to rules used during the
impeachment proceedings of Presidents Richard Nixon and
Bill Clinton. Republicans complained they were skewed
It is likely to take weeks or more before the House
decides whether to vote on actually impeaching Trump. If
the House does vote for impeachment, the Senate would
hold a trial to decide whether to remove the president
Both parties' leaders were rounding up votes as
Thursday's roll call approached, with each side eager to
come as close to unanimity as possible.
Republicans said a solid GOP "no" vote would signal to
the Senate that the Democratic push is a partisan
crusade against a president they have never liked.
Democrats were also hoping to demonstrate solidarity
from their most liberal elements to their most moderate
members. They argued that GOP cohesion against the
measure would show that Republicans are blindly
defending Trump, whatever facts emerge.
"It will show the other party has become the party of
Trump. It's really not the Republican Party any longer,"
said Rep. Dan Kildee, D-Mich.
Republicans said they'd use the vote to target freshman
Democrats and those from districts Trump carried in
2016. They said they would contrast those Democrats'
support for the rules with campaign promises to focus on
issues voters want to address, not on impeaching Trump.
The House GOP's campaign arm sent emails to reporters
all but taunting some of those Democrats including
freshman Rep. Chris Pappas, D-N.H. "Pappas wants to be a
one-termer," one said.
GOP leaders called the rules "Speaker Pelosi's sham
process designed to discredit the Democratic process" in
their daily impeachment email to lawmakers.
Pelosi decided to have the vote following weeks of GOP
claims that the inquiry was invalid because the chamber
had not voted to formally commence the work.
The rules lay out how the House Intelligence Committee —
now leading the investigation by deposing diplomats and
other officials behind closed doors — would transition
to public hearings.
That panel would issue a report and release transcripts
of the closed-door interviews it has been conducting.
The Judiciary Committee would then decide whether to
recommend that the House impeach Trump.
According to the rules for hearings, Republicans could
only issue subpoenas for witnesses to appear if the
entire panel approved them — in effect giving Democrats
Attorneys for Trump could participate in the Judiciary
Committee proceedings. But in a bid for leverage, panel
Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., would be allowed to
deny "specific requests" by Trump representatives if the
White House continued refusing to provide documents or
witnesses sought by Democratic investigators.
The rules also direct House committees "to continue
their ongoing investigations" of Trump.
Top Democrats think that language will shield their
members from weeks of Republican complaints that the
inquiry has been invalid because the House had not
formally voted to begin that work.
Democrats have said there's no constitutional provision
or House rule requiring such a vote.
Ex-Trump adviser Morrison
testifies on concerns over Ukraine
Former top national security adviser to President
Donald Trump, Tim Morrison, arrives for a closed
door meeting to testify as part of the House
impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump on
Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Oct. 31, 2019.
WASHINGTON — A former top White House
official who raised concerns about President Donald
Trump's efforts to push Ukraine to investigate his
political rivals confirmed some aspects of earlier
reports but contradicted others during testimony
Thursday before House impeachment investigators .
Tim Morrison, who stepped down from the National
Security Council the day before his appearance, is the
first White House political appointee to testify and
could be central to the effort to remove Trump from
Morrison largely confirmed much of what a top diplomat,
William Taylor, said in earlier testimony, as the two
had multiple phone conversations raising concerns about
the Trump administration's approach toward Ukraine,
according to a person familiar with the closed-door
testimony. The person, who was not authorized to discuss
the proceedings, spoke on condition of anonymity.
Republican lawmakers portrayed Morrison's opening
remarks as shifting the debate favorably toward Trump.
They said Morrison, in his opening statement,
contradicted another key witness, Lt. Col. Alexander
Vindman, the Army officer who handled Ukraine issues at
the National Security Council. Vindman testified Tuesday
that he twice sounded the alarm over the Trump
"It's a very compelling witness today that is giving
testimony that contradicts some of the testimony we
heard from Mr. Vindman," said Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C.
Morrison's opening remarks were not publicly released.
"Mr. Morrison's testimony is very damaging to the
Democrat narrative," Meadows said. "They've all of a
sudden gotten quiet today because this particular
witness is very credible and has given evidence that
suggests some of the other witnesses have been less than
Another Republican, Rep. Chip Roy of Texas, said, "When
you all see what he had to say, it will be interesting."
Morrison, a defense hawk well known in GOP policy
circles, was the National Security Council's top adviser
for Russian and European affairs until he stepped down
Wednesday. A senior administration official said he had
"decided to pursue other opportunities." The official,
who was not authorized to discuss Morrison's job and
spoke only on the condition of anonymity, said Morrison
has been considering leaving the administration for
Morrison was expected to be asked to explain the
"sinking feeling" that he reportedly got when Trump
demanded that Ukraine's president investigate former
Vice President Joe Biden and interfere in the 2016
election. The national security hawk, brought on board
by then-national security adviser John Bolton , has been
featured prominently in previous testimony from diplomat
It was Morrison who first alerted Taylor to concerns
over Trump's phone call with Ukrainian President
In fact, Morrison's name appeared more than a dozen
times in testimony by Taylor, who told impeachment
investigators that Trump was withholding military aid
unless Zelenskiy went public with a promise to
investigate Trump's political rival Biden and Biden's
son Hunter. Taylor's testimony contradicted Trump's
repeated denials that there was any quid pro quo.
Morrison and Taylor spoke at least five times in the
weeks following the July phone call as the defense
expert and the diplomat discussed the Trump
administration's actions toward Ukraine, according to
As the security funds for Ukraine were being withheld,
Morrison told the diplomat, "President doesn't want to
provide any assistance at all."
Their concerns deepened when Morrison relayed on Sept. 7
the conversation he had with Ambassador Gordon Sondland
a day earlier that gave him that "sinking feeling." In
it, Sondland explained that Trump said he was not asking
for a quid pro quo but insisted that Zelenskiy "go to a
microphone and say he is opening investigations of Biden
and 2016 election interference," Taylor testified last
Morrison told Bolton and the NSC lawyers of this call
between Trump and Sondland, according to Taylor's
The spotlight has been on Morrison since August, when a
government whistleblower said multiple U.S. officials
had said Trump was "using the power of his office to
solicit interference from a foreign country in the 2020
Morrison was brought on board to address arms control
matters and later shifted into a role as a top Russia
and Europe adviser. It was then that he stepped into the
thick of an in-house squabble about the activities of
Trump's personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, who had been
conversing with Ukrainian leaders outside of traditional
U.S. diplomatic circles.
The impeachment probe has been denounced by the
Republican president, who has directed his staff not to
Regardless of what he says, GOP lawmakers will be
hard-pressed to dismiss Morrison, formerly a longtime
Republican staffer at the House Armed Services
Committee. He's been bouncing around Washington in
Republican positions for two decades, having worked for
Rep. Mark Kennedy, R-Minn., Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., and
as a GOP senior staffer on the House Armed Services
Committee, including nearly four years when it was
chaired by Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Texas.
Morrison told people after Bolton was forced out of his
job that the national security adviser had tried to stop
Giuliani's diplomatic dealings with Ukraine and that
Morrison agreed, according to a U.S. official, who was
not authorized to discuss Morrison's role in the
impeachment inquiry and spoke only on the condition of
anonymity. The official said Morrison told people that
with the appointment of Robert O'Brien as Bolton's
successor, his own future work at the NSC was in a
Bolton brought Morrison into the NSC in July 2018 as
senior director for weapons of mass destruction and