WASHINGTON — Rep. Jerry Nadler announced Tuesday a public impeachment hearing in the House Judiciary Committee next week to examine the constitutional framework for impeachment — and invited President Donald Trump to participate with his legal counsel.
The public hearing by the Judiciary Committee is the first since the House passed a resolution outlining procedures to determine whether the president obstructed a special counsel probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 election and whether he sought foreign help in his re-election bid.
Public hearings were held earlier this month by the House Intelligence Committee, which has now deferred to the Judiciary panel.
Judiciary chairman Nadler, D-N.Y., said in announcing the Dec. 4 hearing that the president has a choice to make.
“He can take this opportunity to be represented in the impeachment hearings, or he can stop complaining about the process,” Nadler said.
The committee gave the president until Dec. 1 to respond to the invitation to appear at the hearing.
Trump: Hoax hearings
Trump traveled to Florida for the Thanksgiving holiday on Tuesday afternoon and did not immediately reply to the invitation.
Earlier, Trump said on his Twitter account that the House impeachment inquiry was a hoax.
“It is a Democrat Scam that is going nowhere but, future Presidents should in no way be compromised. What has happened to me should never happen to another President!” Trump said.
The House vote on impeachment proceedings fell largely along party lines. Nevada’s congressional delegation members voted with party leaders.
Only Rep. Dina Titus, D-Nev., who as a member of the Foreign Relations Committee sat through closed-door depositions involving the president’s phone call with the Ukrainian president, has come out in favor of impeachment.
Reps. Susie Lee and Steven Horsford, both Nevada Democrats, support and voted for the impeachment process but have not publicly stated how they would vote on impeachment if a vote were held today.
Trump v. Biden
The impeachment hearings shift from the Intelligence Committee, which investigated the president’s July 25 call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy and the request by Trump for an investigation into political rival Joe Biden and his son, Hunter Biden.
Hunter Biden was a director for a Ukrainian gas company.
Biden told Nevada reporters Monday that there was no evidence of wrongdoing and the president is risking impeachment to do anything “other than face me in a general election.”
Public testimony in the impeachment probe into Trump’s request for a Ukraine investigation focused on the withholding of $400 million in U.S. military aid to Ukraine by the Trump administration as the president’s private lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, pressured foreign officials for the Biden probe.
The hearings now move to the Judiciary Committee, which would write any articles of impeachment charging the president with wrongdoing.
House scrutiny into Trump’s attempt to obstruct the special counsel investigation by Robert Mueller into Russian meddling in the 2016 election was held by the Judiciary Committee earlier this year. A report filed by Mueller detailed instances where the president tried to stop the investigation, including an order to White House counsel Don McGahn to fire the special counsel.
The Trump administration blocked McGahn from testifying. A federal judge in Washington on Monday instructed McGahn to testify. The Department of Justice has filed an appeal.
A witness list for Wednesday’s hearing has not been finalized, but Nadler said the purpose was to explore the framework of the constitutional process of impeachment, which has only occurred three other times in history.
If the Judiciary Committee approves articles of impeachment. The House must then vote. A simple majority, which Democrats hold, would send the charges to the Senate.
A trial in the GOP-held Senate would take a two-thirds majority vote — or 67 votes — to remove a sitting president, something that has never happened before in American history.