The House of Representatives voted to formalize impeachment proceedings against President Trump on Thursday, Oct. 31.
In addition to affirming the inquiry, the 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.”
In a letter to House Democrats, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said the resolution would serve 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.”
On Nov. 4, the House released transcripts of testimonies of Marie Yovanovitch, the former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine, Gordon Sondland, the U.S. Ambassador to the European Union, and Michael McKinley, the former Senior Advisor to the Secretary of State.
Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), Rep. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.), and Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.), the Chairs of the committees leading the inquiry, released a statement alongside the transcripts.
“With each new interview, we learn more about the President’s attempt to manipulate the levers of power,” the statement said. “Ambassadors Yovanovitch and McKinley’s testimony also demonstrates the contamination of U.S. foreign policy by an irregular back channel that sought to advance the President’s personal and political interests.”
Sondland revised the transcript of his sworn testimony. He previously stated he did not know why President Trump chose to withhold aid from Ukraine.
In an addendum to his testimony, Sondland said other witnesses “refreshed [his] recollection about conversations involving the suspension of U.S. aid,” and he now recalls telling a Ukrainian official “the resumption of U.S. aid would likely not occur until Ukraine provided the public anti-corruption statement.”
The White House announced it will not cooperate with the impeachment inquiry in a letter to House leaders, saying the inquiry “lacks any legitimate constitutional foundation, any pretense of fairness, or even the most elementary due process protections.”
The White House also criticized Rep. Schiff, as they believe the whistleblower contacted him before officially filing a complaint.
“In any event, the American people understand that Chairman Schiff cannot covertly assist with the submission of a complaint, mislead the public about his involvement, read a counterfeit version of the call to the American people, and then pretend to sit in judgment as a neutral ‘investigator,’” White House Counsel Pat A. Cipollone said in the letter.
The White House directed those subpoenaed not to testify, threatening to sue or fire those who do. Despite this, many complied; some are willing to testify, and others fear the consequences of defying the subpoenas, such as jail time or fines.
Peter J. Kadzik, former head of the Justice Department’s Office of Legislative Affairs, told The Washington Post, “there’s more risk to them by not testifying than by going ahead and testifying and incurring the wrath of the president.”
The investigation is ongoing. For now, testimonies will still occur in private, and House investigators will release transcripts after the fact. House Democrats estimate the investigation will continue into 2020.