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House Democrats release resolution detailing next steps in impeachment inquiry

The House is expected to vote Thursday on the resolution.
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WASHINGTON — House Democrats released on Tuesday text of the resolution that will detail their procedures as they move forward with the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump.

The full House is expected to vote Thursday on the resolution after the House Rules Committee debates and marks it up on Wednesday.

Tuesday's release comes as pressure grows on Democrats to make the impeachment inquiry more open, including holding public hearings with key witnesses in the Ukraine affair that has engulfed the Trump administration.

The eight-page resolution calls for public hearings and lays out their general format, and specifically permits staff counsels to question witnesses for periods of up to 45 minutes per side, Democrats and Republicans. The resolution gives the minority the same rights to question witnesses that the majority has, " as has been true at every step of the inquiry," Democrats said in a fact sheet about the measure.

Read the full text of the resolution here.

"The House impeachment inquiry has collected extensive evidence and testimony, and soon the American people will hear from witnesses in an open setting. The resolution introduced today in the House Rules Committee will provide that pathway forward," said the Democratic chairmen of four House committees involved in the impeachment process including House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif.

The measure also would allow the president or his counsel to participate in impeachment proceedings held by the House Judiciary Committee, which has the authority to advance articles of impeachment against the president. The resolution explicitly states that the Judiciary panel will decide whether articles should be reported to the full House.

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If the president "refuses to cooperate" unlawfully with congressional requests, Democrats say that the measure says "...the Chair shall have the discretion to impose appropriate remedies, including by denying specific requests by the President or his counsel."

Following complaints from Republicans that Democrats have not released transcripts of closed-door depositions held in the impeachment inquiry so far, the resolution authorizes the Intelligence Committee to make those transcripts public with appropriate redactions.

More broadly, the resolution appears to put in writing what several House committees handling investigations into Trump are already doing.

The resolution directs "certain committees to continue their ongoing investigations as part of the existing House of Representatives inquiry into whether sufficient grounds exist for the House of Representatives to exercise its Constitutional power to impeach Donald John Trump, President of the United States of America, and for other purposes."

The resolution resolves for "the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and the Committees on Financial Services, Foreign Affairs, the Judiciary, Oversight and Reform, and Ways and Means, are directed to continue their ongoing investigations as part of the existing House of Representatives inquiry into whether sufficient grounds exist" to impeach Trump.

Republicans and Trump have called on House Democrats to hold a vote formalizing the ongoing impeachment inquiry, but Pelosi has so far said that isn't necessary. Republicans have called for such a vote so that they could be given subpoena power. The resolution released Wednesday doesn't given them such powers, but makes clear that they can weigh in on subpoenas.

The top Republicans on the three committees handling impeachment matters sent a letter to the House Rules Committee chairman criticizing the resolution ahead of its release.

In the letter, obtained by NBC News, Reps. Devin Nunes of California, Jim Jordan of Ohio and Michael McCaul of Texas said they were "disappointed" that Democrats are trying to "retroactively legitimize their illegitimate impeachment inquiry."

The White House denounced the resolution later on Tuesday.

"The resolution put forward by Speaker Pelosi confirms that House Democrats’ impeachment has been an illegitimate sham from the start as it lacked any proper authorization by a House vote," White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham said in a statement. "It continues this scam by allowing Chairman Schiff, who repeatedly lies to the American people, to hold a new round of hearings, still without any due process for the President."