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House Committees Continue Working On Impeachment Investigations

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Congress is in recess for two weeks despite the impeachment inquiry underway. But although most of the House of Representatives has left the Capitol, House committees are still working on their investigations. One issued a subpoena to the president's personal lawyer just today. Committee members are focused on President Trump's request that the Ukrainian government investigate Joe Biden and Biden's son Hunter and investigating the details of a whistleblower complaint sounding the alarm on this.

NPR's Tim Mak has been tracking this work. Welcome back to the studio, Tim.

TIM MAK, BYLINE: Hi, there.

CORNISH: How is the investigation into the whistleblower's complaint moving ahead?

MAK: So the House Intelligence Committee is taking a lead role in looking into this latest scandal. Just today, the panel said it would be subpoenaing Rudy Giuliani. That's the president's personal lawyer. And they're making document requests of three of Giuliani's business associates. They're looking for information related to its inquiry. The committee has also demanded documents from Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. The deadline for that is Friday.

But they're not just asking for documents. They say that they'll be holding a closed briefing with the inspector general of the intelligence community this Friday. They'll also be scheduling depositions and having depositions with the former ambassador to Ukraine on Wednesday and the former special envoy to Ukraine on Thursday.

CORNISH: As we mentioned, lawmakers are out on recess. What impact is the inquiry having on their agendas as they head back home?

MAK: So in a phone call with her caucus on Sunday afternoon, Speaker Nancy Pelosi told her Democratic colleagues that the polling on this - that the public opinion on this issue has shifted. And some of the public polling on this kind of bears that out. A new Quinnipiac poll today showed that a small majority of registered voters do approve of the impeachment inquiry they've now launched. That's by a margin of 52% to 45%.

Even more dramatic, that same poll shows that in just a week, the gap between the approval and disapproval for impeachment itself has narrowed 20 percentage points. It was 57% against, 37% for. Now Americans are tied on the question of impeaching President Trump, 47% to 47%.

So over this next week and the week after that, Democrats are going to be in their districts for recess. Lawmakers are going to be at home getting a sense from their constituents about how folks feel about this issue. But even though Congress is out, Pelosi herself has already announced that she'll be in Washington for a press conference on Wednesday.

CORNISH: Now, the Mueller investigation took nearly two years. Is there a timeline for how long this impeachment investigation might take?

MAK: So Congressman Gerry Connolly - he's a member of the Foreign Affairs and Oversight committees. They're deeply involved in this work, in investigating right now. He told me today that he hopes and expects that this impeachment inquiry wraps up by the end of this year. If that does happen and the House passes articles of impeachment, the process will then go to the Senate.

This morning, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell put questions to rest about how the Senate would handle any articles of impeachment. Here's McConnell being interviewed by CNBC.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

MORGAN BRENNAN: That said, senator, what does happen in the Senate if the House does get through with this inquiry and decide that they are going to impeach President Trump?

MITCH MCCONNELL: Well, under the Senate rules, we're required to take it up if the House does go down that path. And we'll follow the Senate rules.

MAK: Ultimately, on the question of the timeline, Democrats think that this issue is something that can be looked at more quickly than the Mueller probe. Democrats are really concerned about losing momentum over this recess break and the fact that, for now, Congress has only scheduled 28 legislative days left in the year.

CORNISH: That's NPR's Tim Mak. Tim, thanks for your reporting.

MAK: Thanks a lot. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.


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