Updated Thursday, October 31, 2019 at 3:45 p.m.
The U.S. House of Representatives has adopted a resolution formalizing its impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump. As the first official vote in what’s sure to be many related to impeachment, the roll call showed a stark divide between majority Democrats who’ve already begun holding closed-door depositions on the matter and Republicans who continue to back the president. West Virginia's three House members -- all Republicans -- voted against the measure.
H. Res. 660 authorizes the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee to conduct open hearings and allows the president and his attorneys the opportunity to cross-examine witnesses should Democrats approve. The resolution also directs the three panels leading the ongoing inquiry -- the House Intelligence, Oversight and Foreign Affairs committees -- to report their findings to the House Judiciary Committee, which will decide whether to move forward with drafting and voting on articles of impeachment.
Democrats said the procedures — which give them the ability to curb the president's lawyers from calling witnesses — are similar to rules used during the impeachment proceedings of Presidents Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton. Republicans complained they were skewed against Trump.
The measure was approved Thursday on a 232-196 vote, with two Democrats -- Rep. Jeff Van Drew (N.J.) and Rep. Collin Peterson (Minn.) joining Republicans in opposing the measure. The House’s lone Independent, Justin Amash (Mich.) voted in favor of the resolution.
West Virginia’s House delegation, comprised of three Republicans, has backed President Trump as the impeachment investigation has mounted. They’ve called the inquiry “partisan” and “baseless.”
Reps. David McKinley, Alex Mooney and Carol Miller -- of the state’s 1st, 2nd and 3rd districts, respectively -- all voted against Thursday’s resolution.
"Our Founding Fathers never intended for impeachment to be used as a tool for scoring political points. Alexander Hamilton wrote in Federalist Papers No. 65, that there is always a danger that the decision to use the power of impeachment would be driven by partisan 'animosities' instead of 'real demonstrations of innocence or guilt.' Today’s purely partisan vote has proven Hamilton right," McKinley said in a statement Thursday. "This process has continued to be unfair and unproductive, Democrats have created a biased narrative by using selective leaks and secretive interviews. Under Speaker Pelosi’s leadership, the House, has had more subpeoenas issued than bills signed into law."
McKinley and Miller said Democrats in the House have been too focused on impeachment and not other issues affecting West Virginia and the rest of the country.
In a statement following Thursday's vote, Miller also argued that the resolution falls short in providing President Trump the same rights as other presidents who have been impeached.
“The resolution brought to the floor today fails to provide my Republican colleagues and I, as well as the Trump Administration, the same rights offered in past presidential impeachment proceedings,” Miller said in part. “Their investigation is centered around secret hearings and selective leaks designed to damage the President. This process lacks transparency and fairness.”
— Carol Miller (@RepCarolMiller) October 31, 2019
Mooney issued a statement through a video posted to Facebook.
“There's already been 37 days of secret hearings -- I attended once and attempted to attend many other times. Those secret hearings will still go on with this inquiry vote -- supporting of it with his vote,” Mooney said in the video. “I'm glad they had a vote, so the American people can see where their representatives stand on this issue.”
Last week, Mooney joined dozens of other Republicans in a protest of the closed-door depositions as they made their way into a sensitive compartmented information facility -- known as a SCIF -- were being held. Like other GOP lawmakers, Mooney argued the depositions were being done in “secret” and called for proceedings to take place in view of the public and the news media.
In a tweet posted Tuesday, Mooney said he again tried to make his way into a deposition being held in the SCIF.
Miller also participated in last week’s protest. She sits on the House Oversight Committee, which is one of the three House committees that have had access to the depositions.
In a press conference as members gathered in the House ahead of Thursday's vote, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi pushed back on Republican claims that the process is a "sham" and unfair to President Trump. She said procedures laid out in the resolution are "very transparent and open." Pelosi also said the resolution gives "more privileges to the president and his argument than were given in the past."
The Associated Press contributed reporting to this story.