WASHINGTON — The House Judiciary Committee will vote Thursday to establish rules for hearings on impeachment, escalating the panel’s investigations of President Donald Trump even as many Democrats remain wary of the effort.
The resolution is a technical step, and the panel would still have to introduce impeachment articles against Trump and win approval from the House to bring charges against Trump. It’s unclear if that will ever happen, as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has urged caution on the issue, saying the public still isn’t yet supportive of taking those steps.
Even if the House did recommend impeachment charges against the president, the Republican-led Senate is unlikely to convict him and remove him from office.
Still, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler has said that the committee will move forward with impeachment hearings this fall, bolstered by lawmakers on the panel who roundly support moving forward. The vote on Thursday will set rules for those hearings, empowering staff to question witnesses, allowing some evidence to remain private and permitting the president’s counsel to respond to testimony.
The committee says that the resolution is similar to procedural votes taken at the beginning of the impeachment investigations into Presidents Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton.
“The adoption of these additional procedures is the next step in that process and will help ensure our impeachment hearings are informative to Congress and the public, while providing the president with the ability to respond to evidence presented against him,” Nadler said in a statement. “We will not allow Trump’s continued obstruction to stop us from delivering the truth to the American people.”
The committee has also filed two lawsuits against the administration after the White House repeatedly blocked the panel from obtaining documents and testimony.
Pelosi has said she wants to see what happens in court before making any decisions on impeachment. She said Monday evening that she had signed off on the Judiciary vote, and “that’s a logical thing for a committee to establish its rules of procedure.”
The first hearing under the new impeachment rules would be with Corey Lewandowski on Sept. 17, the panel also announced Monday. Lewandowski was frequently mentioned in former special counsel Robert Mueller’s report, which the committee has been investigating. According to Mueller’s report, Trump asked Lewandowski to deliver a message to then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions asking him to limit Mueller’s probe.
The committee has also invited two other witnesses mentioned in the report, former White House aides Rick Dearborn and Rob Porter. The White House has previously blocked former employees from testifying, but Lewandowski never officially worked for the White House.