Nancy Pelosi has done it.
Without a single Republican vote, the Democratic leader has passed a resolution endorsing her impeachment inquest and setting forth rules and a loose timetable allowing it to proceed in an even more public fashion. In a 232-196 vote that underscored the bitter partisan divisions in Washington, Pelosi's Dems were joined by 0 Republicans (and the chamber's only independent, ex-Republican Congressman Justin Amash), while 2 Dems - Reps. Jeff Van Drew (D-NJ) and Collin Peterson (D-MN) - defected and voted 'No' with the Republicans. They both represent districts Trump won handily on 2016.
After weeks of public hearings, some have argued that it's possible Gordon Sondland pressured the Ukrainians to investigate the Bidens, perhaps going off the reservation to pursue a crusade independent of his superiors (perhaps operating under the assumption that they would be happy with the results), Bloomberg reports.
As Bloomberg reports, the onus is now clearly on Nancy Pelosi to finish what she started. However, she is still losing in the areas where it matters most: No. 1) in the court of public opinion, where the country is roughly split on support for impeachment. That's right: All of the Dems' smears have had practically no impact, perhaps because the White House immediately moved to release the rough transcript, allowing the public to see with its own eyes that there was no quid-pro-quo during the July 25 call with Zelensky.
Whatever progress impeachment has made in terms of public opinion, Pelosi better prepare to lose it. Because, as Bloomberg points out, the impeachment inquiry has burst into public view. In a few weeks, public hearings will begin, and although the Dems promised the White House that Trump's legal team would be allowed to participate, it turns they won't be allowed to cross examine witnesses until the next round, which will be handled by the Judiciary Committee.
And even then, the Dems will have a veto over any witnesses the Republicans wish to call. Trump has been mostly shut out of the process so far, but his persistent criticisms of the Witch Hunt have still been effective, and that's unlikely to change.
House Democrats, have been careful not to divulge their strategy, but some elements are coming into focus. By allowing Trump's legal team to participate in the second, highly public, half of the pre-impeachment hearings, they've created a venue that could possibly lead to Trump testifying publicly. Or at least they set it up so that they could criticize Trump if he refuses.
It's worth noting that the way this has all been set up, it's almost as if the leadership assumes impeachment will fail, but has decided that the political boost they might gain by bashing Trump is worth the effort, according to the New York Times.
As one politico who spoke to the NYT reportedly said, it appears both sides have begun a "political death march" until the next election. For the Dems, that means allowing the newly reinvigorated far-left base to take the reins, at the risk of undermining the moderates who still vote in vast numbers across the US.