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Monday, 30 September 2019

Nancy Pelosi Has Fast-Tracked Impeachment. Here Is What That Means.

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) announced late last week that she plans on “fast-tracking” an impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump, stemming from allegations that Trump demanded information about Joe Biden’s son from Ukrainian authorities.
USA Today reports that although Congress can’t officially “fast-track” an impeachment inquiry, House leaders can move as quickly as possible to get the inquiry on the calendar, and that’s precisely what Pelosi and her team intend to do.
So far, Democrats have had difficulty transitioning the evidence they’ve been provided into an open-and-shut case, but that’s not stopping a select House panel from scheduling depositions, even though Congress leaves this week for a two-week vacation ahead of the final session of the year. USA Today suggests that some in the Democratic leadership want articles of impeachment on the table by Thanksgiving so that the ensuing hearings have the greatest impact possible on the 2020 presidential election cycle (even if it looks like Democrats on the trail won’t benefit).
The impeachment inquiry is, at least, taking priority over the dozens of other investigation currently being pursued by various House committees. Any research being done into Donald Trump’s potential violations of the Constitution’s Emoluments Clause, questions about his campaign’s ties to Russian officials, or probes into whether the White House obstructed justice during Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation (or any other of a handful of Democratic deep dives) will now take a backseat to the Ukrainian issue, since that’s the issue du jour.
“The plan for now, according to lawmakers, is to prioritize the Ukraine investigation, which is being led by the House Intelligence Committee, while other panels wrap up their probes and send their best cases to the House Judiciary Committee,” USA Today reports.
That probably won’t make members of “the squad” very happy, since none of the freshman lawmakers are actively involved with Houes Intelligence Committee investigations, but it will move the issue forward. Even before the White House declassified memos detailing Trump’s discussions with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky, the House was issuing subpoenas for depositions.
Here’s the official calender of testimony, per USA Today:
•Oct. 2: Ambassador Marie “Masha” Yovanovitch, former ambassador to Ukraine.
•Oct. 3: Kurt Volker, a special representative for Ukraine who played a role arranging meetings between Giuliani and Zelensky’s representatives.
•Oct. 7: Deputy Assistant Secretary George Kent.
•Oct. 8: Counselor T. Ulrich Brechbuhl, who listened to the Ukraine call, according to the whistleblower complaint.
•Oct. 10: Ambassador Gordon Sondland, ambassador to the European Union.
The depositions will be done under oath but out of the public eye. Another hearing, headlined by Michael Atkinson, “the inspector general for the intelligence community, who received the whistleblower’s complaint about Trump and deemed it credible and urgent,” will be held behind closed doors on October 4th.
House Democrats have been instructed to use the two-week recess to speak with their constituents about the impeachment process. It remains unsaid by Democratic leadership, but the implication seems to be that House Dems are being asked to explain their rationale for beginning impeachment proceedings now to a public that seems noticeably hostile to the concept.
Unfortuantely for Democrats, even if they manage to complete an impeachment inquiry by Election Day 2020 (and, for that matter, vote to impeach the president), they are reliant on Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) to bring the articles to the floor of the Senate, which is the only body that can actually remove the president from office — and that’s not likely to happen

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