The Democratic-led U.S. House of Representatives Judiciary Committee said on Monday it will consider steps this week to formalize an ongoing investigation that could lead to the impeachment of President Donald Trump.
The resolution is a technical step, and the panel would still have to introduce impeachment articles against Trump and win approval from the House to bring charges against him.
An impeachment resolution against Trump was referred to the Judiciary Committee in February, three months after Democrats won control of the House in November 2018.
The resolution allows Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., to call hearings specifically for the goal of receiving information about its investigation and allows committee staff to question witnesses for an extra hour at those hearings.
"Congress is coming back this week and the House Judiciary Committee is planning on voting on an expanded impeachment inquiry".
Nadler said in a statement the procedures would "help ensure our impeachment hearings are informative to Congress and the public, while providing the president with the ability to respond to evidence presented against him". "You know, I think it's important for us to think about what is in the best interest of the country and the American people, and continuing to pursue impeachment is something that I think will only further to tear our country apart".
The committee also announced Monday that President Trump's former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski will testify on September 17. According to Mueller's report, Trump asked Lewandowski to deliver a message to then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions asking him to limit Mueller's probe. Rob Porter, the former White House staff secretary, and Rick Dearborn, a former White House deputy chief of staff, were subpoenaed to appear before the same hearing. The White House has previously blocked former employees from testifying, but Lewandowski never officially worked for the White House.
"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", Nadler said in a statement Monday. It would allow committee lawyers to question witnesses for an additional hour - 30 minutes for each side - beyond the five minutes allowed for committee lawmakers. The rules outline basic structures, such as how a witness should be called or how the chairman can designate a full committee or subcommittee hearing.
For pro-impeachment House Democrats, the rules changes are a procedural and symbolic step in the panel's efforts to show progress despite the fact that its investigations have yielded little new evidence implicating the president.
McCarthy also said he disagrees with former Rep. Mark Sanford, who said over the weekend that he's challenging President Donald Trump for the Republican nomination because the party has lost its way on debt and deficit spending, among other reasons.
Aside from reviewing his use of Trump's properties, the Judiciary panel is also expected to investigate hush money payments Trump made to kill potentially embarrassing stories, and has subpoenaed the Department of Homeland Security to explore whether the president offered pre-emptive pardons for lawbreaking. Nadler subpoenaed DHS last week for more information.
Meanwhile the Democratic heads of three other House committees announced an investigation into alleged efforts by Mr Trump and his lawyer Rudy Giuliani to pressure the Ukrainian government for their own political ends, including by withholding USA security assistance.
The committee has taken up several investigations into Trump and ramped up fights over documents with the White House in the wake of special counsel Robert Mueller's report on Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and possible obstruction of justice by Trump.
Flynn admitted lying to the Federal Bureau of Investigation about his conversations with the Russian ambassador to the United States and awaits sentencing.
Separately, the House Intelligence, Oversight and Foreign Affairs committees launched a joint probe into allegations the Trump administration is pressuring the Ukrainian government to help his 2020 reelection bid. Giuliani later scrapped that trip.