WASHINGTON — The impeachment resolution for President Donald Trump that a deeply divided House has approved resembles the two previous impeachments in many ways, but it also contains some added muscle for the Democrats running the process.
The process outlined in the eight-page resolution and a three-page House Judiciary Committee memo on procedures will result in televised public hearings, release of transcripts from closed-door sessions, and the defense of Trump by his lawyers and Republicans.
Yet there are some differences with past impeachments in how the process will roll out over the next several weeks as House Democrats investigate allegations that Trump pressed a foreign country to intervene in U.S. politics for his benefit with a quid pro quo.
In the cases of President Richard Nixon in 1974 and President Bill Clinton in 1998, the Judiciary Committee began impeachment inquiries after a special or independent counsel had already investigated the allegations and had submitted its findings to Congress.
But in the case of Trump, the Justice Department declined to pursue the whistleblower complaint.
Democrats picked it up and are still investigating it through committees led by Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) declared the start of an impeachment inquiry — without a House vote.
Once Schiff concludes his investigation, the resolution requires him to transmit a report, transcripts and other evidence to the House Judiciary Committee, chaired by Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-Manhattan). As in the past, that committee can conduct its own investigation and hearings to determine whether there are grounds for drafting and approving articles of impeachment.
Republicans say the process has been tainted from the start and accuse the Democrats of ignoring due process for Trump and them. Democrats defend their investigation as necessary and insist that they are conducting a process much like those that came before.
Here is how the Trump, Nixon and Clinton resolutions compare.
House approval of impeachment inquiry resolutions have become increasingly partisan.
On Feb. 6, 1974, the House passed a three-page impeachment inquiry resolution into Nixon in an overwhelmingly bipartisan 410-4 vote. The Clinton three-page resolution passed on Oct. 8, 1998, when just 31 Democrats joined Republicans in a 258 to 176 vote. On Thursday, the partisan 232 to 196 vote for the eight-page Trump resolution recorded all Republicans voting no and all but two Democrats voting yes.
All three resolutions authorize the House Judiciary Committee to investigate allegations and determine whether to draft and approve articles of impeachment.
The resolutions put the Judiciary Committee chairman in charge and require a report to the House of “resolutions, articles of impeachment or other recommendations.”
The three resolutions allow the minority party to call and subpoena witnesses and information, subject to approval by the majority party.
The Nixon and Clinton resolutions use identical language: The chairman and ranking minority member can call and subpoena witnesses and evidence. If either of them doesn’t approve a request or a subpoena, the committee, where the majority rules, decides.
The Trump resolution follows the same procedure but also requires the ranking minority member to get the “concurrence” of the chairman to call and subpoena witnesses -– with the final decision made by the full committee, where the majority rules.
The Judiciary Committee’s three-page set of procedures gives the president and his counsel opportunities to participate in the impeachment proceedings.
Similar to the practice in the Nixon and Clinton impeachments, the Judiciary Committee rules allow the president’s lawyers to present their case and respond to evidence, submit written requests for additional testimony or other evidence, attend hearings, both public and behind closed doors, raise objections to testimony and cross-examine witnesses.
Unlike in previous resolutions, the Democratic-led Judiciary Committee chairman can penalize the Trump administration for refusing to make witnesses or documents available.
The three-page Judiciary Committee set of procedures referred to in the Trump resolution allows the committee chairman to deny requests by the president or his lawyers to call or question witnesses if they refuse to make witnesses available or produce documents.
The Trump resolution directs the multicommittee investigation as part of the existing inquiry into whether to impeach the president to continue.
The Nixon and Clinton resolutions don’t refer to prior investigations by appointed prosecutors or congressional hearings. But the Trump resolution directs six House committees to continue the probes of Trump they began when Democrats took control of the House in January.