House approves rules to guide next phase of Trump impeachment probe

In a vote which broke mainly along party lines, the U.S. House on Thursday endorsed a plan from Democrats to set out the guidelines for an impeachment investigation of President Donald Trump, featuring public hearings in coming weeks and months, and ultimately a possible vote in the full House  on actual articles of impeachment.

"No one is above the law," said Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), as a parade of Democrats took to the House floor to condemn the lack of cooperation by the President, and the process arguments from Republicans.

"This is an unprecedented cover up," said Rep. Mark DeSaulnier (D-CA). "After today there are no more excuses for those who want to avoid the facts."

"I did not come here to launch an impeachment process. However, the facts demand it," said Rep. Brendan Boyle (D-PA).

The House vote was 232 to 196.  Two Democrats broke ranks to vote against the rules plan - Rep. Colin Peterson (D-MN) and Rep. Jeff Van Drew (D-NJ).

Outnumbered on the House floor, Republicans ridiculed the impeachment effort from Democrats, arguing it was unfair to the President.

"Maybe in the Soviet Union, you do things like this," said Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA), as GOP lawmakers repeatedly denounced the procedure involved, and blasted the plan to have the House Intelligence Committee take the lead in the investigation.

"This is a total sham," said Rep. Debbie Lesko (R-AZ).

"This is a dark day," said Rep. Doug Collins (R-GA). "It's not about transparency, it's about control."

"Americans understand that this is unfair," said Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), who denounced depositions held in a 'bunker in the basement' of the U.S. Capitol.

One item not included in the resolution on what's next in the impeachment investigation is any kind of a timeline.

Democrats have talked about voting on impeachment before the end of the year - but with Thanksgiving and the Christmas holidays not far away - it's possible work in the House could spill into 2020.

As for President Trump, he was watching events play out from the White House.

“READ THE TRANSCRIPT,” the President tweeted, as he denies that he did anything wrong in a late July phone call with the leader of Ukraine, in which Mr. Trump asked the Ukraine government to undertake investigations related to former President Joe Biden and his son, as well an effort to undercut the conclusion that Russia hacked Democrats during the 2016 election.

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