Calling it a "difficult time for our nation," U.S. Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vt.) on Thursday voted to formally launch impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump.
On a largely party-line vote of 232 to 196, the House approved a package of rules governing how the impeachment inquiry would be conducted. The rules direct the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence to conduct public hearings and then report to the House Judiciary Committee, which would draft any articles of impeachment.
Thursday's vote formalizes a process that has been ongoing for weeks in the basement offices of the intelligence committee, on which Welch serves. Even as the full House debated the measure, the committee was taking testimony behind closed doors from Timothy Morrison, who resigned his position hours earlier as the top Russia expert at the National Security Council.
Welch, who long resisted endorsing impeachment, changed his tune in July — citing Trump's refusal to cooperate with Congress and his racist attacks on lawmakers of color. He has since criticized the president for calling on the Ukrainian government to investigate former vice president Joe Biden.
"The House of Representatives will soon answer the fundamental question of whether it is appropriate for a president of the United States to solicit assistance for his political campaign from a foreign power while withholding from that country congressionally-approved military assistance," Welch said in a written statement Thursday. "With today’s historic vote, we now have a clear road map on how our committee will present evidence to the House and the American people, and how the House will answer this question."
Disclosure: Paul Heintz worked as Peter Welch's communications director from November 2008 to March 2011.