With Congress returning to session after its summer recess, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) is wasting no time to set up an impeachment inquiry into President Trump.

A vote has now been set by the House Committee for Thursday, Sept. 12, in order to set procedural rules for what the committee terms an “impeachment investigation.” This vote is expected to establish a set of procedures by which the committee would then make a recommendation to the full House of Representatives. Included would be rules for hearing public and behind-doors testimony, should an impeachment inquiry move forward. 

Nadler had already indicated that his committee would proceed with an impeachment investigation, prior to having established support by vote. 

“No one is above the law,” professed Nadler in a statement, released Monday. “The unprecedented corruption, coverup, and crimes by the President are under investigation by the Committee as we determine whether to recommend articles of impeachment or other Article 1 remedies.”

A number of Democrats have long been calling for impeachment of the president, creating division within the party. Others, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), feel that evidence and public support for impeachment is still lacking. 

The president remains the subject of investigations from a number of congressional committees, including the House Intelligence Committee and House Oversight Committee. Separately, Democrats are pursuing access to the president’s tax returns and financial records through a number of separate civil court procedures. 

White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham, issued a statement, on Monday, in response to the House Committee’s Chairman Nadler’s actions, saying, “Sadly, it’s just more of the same from the Democrats. They should be focusing on the needs of our country. Instead, their obsessive vendetta against this President continues.”

Seeking to impeach President Trump remains a risky proposition for Democrats

Public and political support for an impeachment inquiry into President Trump remains limited, especially in the wake of underwhelming testimony from former Special Counsel Robert Mueller III over his nearly two-year investigation into Trump-Russia collusion.

Mueller, who had made it clear that he was reluctant to testify before Congress, was unprepared and largely unfamiliar with the content of the 448-page report that bears his name, calling into question how and why the report had been assembled. 

Nonetheless, it would seem that many Democrats are still keen to schedule an impeachment inquiry against the president in advance, while hoping to uncover ample evidence of impeachable offenses somewhere along the way. 

With the Russia-Trump-collusion narrative having gone into full retreat, Democrats have begun to focus more on the president’s business dealings, including the question of whether state and foreign dignitaries staying at Trump hotels and resorts violate constitutional rules for emoluments. 

The Democrats are in a challenging position here. If they do not take action to impeach Trump, their professed belief that he has overreached his authority, along with their persistent antagonism of the president during his nearly three years in office, would appear to lack substance. 

At the same time, however, if an impeachment inquiry were to proceed, but is shown to be weak or purely partisan, the Republican Senate and much of the general public will simply dismiss it. A failed impeachment effort would also lend credence to White House’s assertion that ongoing investigations into the president and his administration are tantamount to “political harassment.”