WASHINGTON (AP) – A sharply divided House has approved the rules for its impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump.
Thursday's near party-line 232-196 roll call was the chamber's first formal vote on a process that's likely to take months, possibly stretching into the early weeks of the 2020 election year.
Underscoring the gravity of the vote, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi presided over the chamber as it voted on the rules package.
The vote was a victory for majority Democrats, who will control the investigation in the House. It gives them the ability to curb the ability of Republicans to subpoena witnesses and of White House lawyers to present witnesses.
Republicans said the process was skewed against them and the White House.
The vote showed how neither side has budged in their fight over whether Trump's effort to squeeze Ukraine for dirt on his Democratic political foe’s merits forcing him from office.
The White House says the House vote has enshrined "unacceptable violations of due process into House rules."
Press secretary Stephanie Grisham says in a statement moments after the House vote that the process "is unfair, unconstitutional, and fundamentally un-American."
Grisham says President Donald Trump "has done nothing wrong" and that Democrats have an "unhinged obsession" with impeachment. Her statement was echoed by Trump's reelection campaign which accused Democrats of trying to legitimize their process after the fact.
Campaign manager Brad Parscale says: "Voters will punish Democrats who support this farce and President Trump will be easily re-elected."