The House impeachment vote made the inquiry official. Here’s what’s next.

On October 31, the House of Representatives voted to approve its first resolution related to their impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump. The resolution passed by a vote of 232 to 196, with Rep. Collin Peterson (D-MN) and Jeff Van Drew (D-NJ) dissenting from their party to vote no. Former Republican Rep. Justin Amash (I-MI), who left the party earlier this year, joined Democrats to vote yes. All current Republicans voted no.

The resolution was a set of procedures proposed by Democratic leaders for how the impeachment inquiry will function going forward. And this vote paves the way for the next step in the impeachment process. That process will likely culminate in the House with the drafting of and voting on formal articles of impeachment, Vox’s Andrew Prokop writes. Andrew joined Today, Explained to break it all down:

The move now really is to make more of a public case about why Democrats think Trump did something very wrong here and deserves impeachment. They’ve gotten all of this information behind closed doors. That was the fact-gathering phase away from TV cameras. You know, stunts and people mugging for the cameras. …

They think they are on a good position and they understand the basic facts of this scandal. And now they’re ready to air those facts more in public and get some big TV events to capture voters’ attention.

Learn more about what’s next in this episode of Today, Explained. Below, we’ve shared a lightly edited transcript of the conversation.

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Andrew Prokop

It is now official — and maybe already was official — but now it’s like extra official.

Sean Rameswaram

What does that mean?

Andrew Prokop

Well, so today was the first full vote taken by the House of Representatives related to the impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump. And it’s not a vote about impeaching Trump. It was a procedural vote on how the impeachment inquiry will work going forward. Now, this is basically a political move to sort of ratify and get the full House vote behind what Democrats were already doing.

Sean Rameswaram

And it was pretty much a party line vote. What does the actual resolution say?

Andrew Prokop

The resolution was about procedures. It was about how things are going to work going forward. And over the past month, the action in the impeachment inquiry has been in Rep. Adam Schiff’s House Intelligence Committee.

They have been holding closed-door depositions of various Trump administration officials related to the scandal over whether Trump pressured the Ukrainian government to investigate his political opponents, including Joe Biden. Now, this seems to be a signal that we are moving from the closed-door phase of this to an open setting where there will be public hearings aired on television, witnesses being questioned by members of Congress that we can all at long last watch.

Sean Rameswaram

Did the House have to have this vote today? Why did they do it today? Why is this happening right now?

Andrew Prokop

They did not have to hold this vote. There’s no requirement in House rules or in the Constitution that an impeachment inquiry start with a vote of the full House. And it’s not clear entirely why they are holding this vote now. The fact that they have not held this vote yet has been one of the major Republican talking points used to criticize the impeachment inquiry for weeks now.

And it didn’t seem like a particularly sincere argument, because none of them are going to now say, all right, now it’s legitimate that they’ve held this vote. They’ll just move on to new process-based complaints, in large part because they’re uncomfortable defending President Trump on the merits of this scandal.

Sean Rameswaram

Well, the fact that Democrats may have been pressured into doing this by Republicans makes it sound sort of unremarkable. But there’s like an official impeachment inquiry happening against the president. That’s a pretty big deal, right?

Andrew Prokop

On the substance, this vote doesn’t change very much. Democrats were conducting this impeachment inquiry before it, and they will be conducting it after it. And it wasn’t strictly necessary. Still, though, an impeachment of a president is a very rare thing. And it is a milestone that will be remembered by history that this is the first full vote of the House of Representatives related to the topic of whether Trump will be impeached, even though that final full vote on impeachment is still probably weeks or more likely months down the road.

Sean Rameswaram

What comes next? Some televised hearings?

Andrew Prokop

Schiff is going to bring back some of the witnesses that have testified behind closed doors. And he will also get new witnesses if he can. And then at the end of this phase, that’s no specific timeline. But whenever they decide they’re done, the Intelligence Committee and Schiff will write a report on their findings and recommendations. That report is then where the Judiciary Committee comes in.

They will review the report and will probably draft articles of impeachment related to the findings of that report. And they will vote on whether to approve those articles of impeachment. And if they are approved, then they will go before the full House. And that is the vote to impeach Donald Trump in the House. If any article of impeachment passes, Trump is impeached. And then we move to the Senate, which will hold a trial on whether he should be removed from office.

Sean Rameswaram

Why call witnesses who have already testified?

Andrew Prokop

The move now really is to make more of a public case about why Democrats think Trump did something very wrong here and deserves impeachment. They’ve gotten all of this information behind closed doors. That was the fact-gathering phase away from TV cameras. You know, stunts and people mugging for the cameras. …

They think they are on a good position and they understand the basic facts of this scandal. And now they’re ready to air those facts more in public and get some big TV events to capture voters’ attention.


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