House Judiciary Committee on Thursday, Sept.12 approved guidelines for impeachment hearings on President Donald Trump. 

“Some call this process an impeachment inquiry. Some call it an impeachment investigation. There is no legal difference between these terms, and I no longer care to argue about the nomenclature,” Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., said as he opened the meeting. “But let me clear up any remaining doubt: The conduct under investigation poses a threat to our democracy. We have an obligation to respond to this threat. And we are doing so.”

Republicans disagree with Nadler and they argue that the House has never voted to open an official inquiry. Georgia Rep. Doug Collins, the top Republican on the committee, said the committee “has become a giant Instagram filter … it’s put in there to look like something, but it’s really not.”

Collins said Democrats are trying to have it both ways.

“My colleagues know very well they don’t have the votes to authorize impeachment proceedings on the House floor, but they want to impeach the president anyway,” Collins said. “So, they are pretending to initiate impeachment.”

Impeachment has divided the House-controlled Democrats. Democrats on the committee, including some of the House’s most liberal members, were eager to move the process forward. But moderates, mostly first-term lawmakers who handed the majority over to their party in the 2018 election, are concerned about the drumbeat on impeachment by the committee and the attention that comes with that continuing action.

“It’s sucking the air out of all the good stuff that we’re doing, so that’s our concern,” said Florida Rep. Donna Shalala, who attended the meeting. She said very few constituents in her swing district asked her about impeachment over the August recess.

Nadler and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), have been also talking about impeachment very differently.

Nadler has been clear that his committee is moving forward, Pelosi is reluctant to mention the word “I” and has repeatedly said that the strategy is to “legislate, investigate, and litigate.” In private meetings, she urged caution and told the caucus that the public is not yet on the subject of impeachment.

At the same time, she has signed off on the committee’s moves.

The resolution approved by the committee along party lines would allow the committee to designate certain hearings as impeachment hearings, empower staff to question witnesses, allow some evidence to remain private and allow the counsel of the president to respond to testimony officially.

“Under these procedures, when we have finished these hearings and considered as much evidence we are able to gather, we will decide whether to refer articles of impeachment to the House floor,” Nadler said in his opening statement.

House Financial Services Committee Chairwoman Maxine Waters(D-Calif.), and House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), arrive for a gathering of the Democratic Caucus as Congress returns for the fall session, at the Capitol in Washington, on Sept. 10, 2019. Nadler said his committee will move forward with impeachment hearings this fall, bolstered by lawmakers on the panel who roundly support moving forward. (J. Scott Applewhite/AP Photo)

Reactions of House Republicans

Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz commented, “When Dems took control of the House, they promised new leadership. They claimed they would work to accomplish the work and will of the American people. Instead, they continue beating the dead horse of impeachment. It’s like a bad sequel to “Weekend at Bernie’s.””

He continued:

Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan reacted:

North Carolina Rep. Mark Meadows tweeted:

Meanwhile, President Donald Trump posted 3 tweets in response to the action of House Democrats.

Includes reporting from the Associated Press