House Democrats’ plans for their impeachment proceedings include a clever provision to punish the White House for stonewalling the investigation.
On Tuesday night the House Judiciary Committee released a set of impeachment protocols to go along with the broader resolution that the House will likely vote on this week, outlining the public phase of its impeachment inquiry.
The new impeachment protocols offer the President the due process rights that Republicans complain have been absent in the inquiry, but they come with a twist.
A provision in the package says that if the President “unlawfully” refuses “to make witnesses available for testimony to, or to produce documents requested by” the committees currently leading the impeachment probe, the House Judiciary Committee chairman will have the right to deny the due process procedures outlined in the procedures.
The provision appears to be a reference to the White House’s directive to the administration that it not comply with document requests or make available officials for testimony. Several administration officials have defied the blockade, but others have cited it to dodge testifying, and multiple document requests by the House have gone unfulfilled.
The due process procedures that Trump otherwise would have access to are similar to or go beyond what was available for previous presidents who faced impeachment, according to a comparison chart released by the House Democrats.
The President’s lawyers would be able to respond to the presentations related to the probe given to the House Judiciary Committee. They may also be able to cross-examine witnesses in the Judiciary Committee and raise objections to the evidence being presented in those proceedings. Additionally, under the procedures, the President may offer evidence or request other testimony for the proceedings, but whether such evidence is “necessary or desirable to a full and fair record in the inquiry,” will be up to the committee.
The House Rules Committee is marking up the broader impeachment procedures package on Wednesday, and it is expected that a full floor vote on the resolution will happen Thursday, before the House leaves for an 11-day recess.
Read the proposed House Judiciary impeachment procedures below: