The Democratic-led US House of Representatives judiciary committee has voted to intensify its investigation of Republican President Donald Trump, as lawmakers edge closer to deciding whether to recommend his impeachment.
The 41-member panel adopted a resolution allowing it to designate hearings as impeachment proceedings, subject witnesses to more aggressive questioning, and quicken the pace of an investigation that is expanding into areas that could prove politically explosive for both Trump and congress.
“With these new procedures, we will begin next week an aggressive series of hearings investigating allegations of corruption, obstruction and abuse of power against the president,” committee chairman Jerrold Nadler told reporters after the 24-17 vote on Thursday.
A more aggressive probe could also increase pressure on House Democratic leaders including Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who has resisted impeachment as a politically risky step for moderate Democratic freshmen from swing districts where ousting Trump is an unpopular idea.
Republicans rejected the notion that the panel was pursuing an impeachment inquiry and dismissed the resolution as a “fantasy” intended to distract from Democrats’ unwillingness to have the full House authorise a formal impeachment inquiry, as occurred during the Watergate era and the impeachment of former president Bill Clinton.
Republicans said Democrats lacked the votes to obtain formal House authorisation and denounced Thursday’s action as a show intended to pander to Democratic voters who want Trump removed from office.