House Democrat breaks from party, says House should vote to start impeachment inquiry

Rep. John GaramendiJohn Raymond GaramendiBombshell Afghanistan report bolsters calls for end to 'forever wars' Krystal Ball: New Biden ad is everything that's wrong with Democrats The Hill's Morning Report - Impeachment of Trump resumes MORE (D-Calif.) on Wednesday said he thinks the House should hold a formal vote on launching an impeachment inquiry, contradicting Democratic leaders who argue it's unnecessary.

Garamendi, who does not serve on any of the main committees leading the impeachment inquiry, predicted the House would have the votes to launch an inquiry.

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"I think it's time for us to put a vote on the floor, a resolution for the inquiry structured in such a way that it can move forward with full power of the Congress behind it," Garamendi said in an interview on "CNN Newsroom."

"That will further strengthen Congress's hand," he added.

"They want a fight, OK," Garamendi said of the White House. "Then let us arm ourselves completely and totally with the full power of Congress."

Other Democrats have said that a formal vote authorizing an impeachment inquiry isn't needed because the committees already have subpoena power due to rules changes made by Republicans when they held the House majority.

Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiUSMCA is nice but no model Anti-impeachment Democrat poised to switch parties Grassley urges White House to help farmers in year-end tax talks MORE (D-Calif.) said in a letter last week to House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin Owen McCarthyGOP lawmakers jockey for positions as managers On The Money: Trump, China announce 'Phase One' trade deal | Supreme Court takes up fight over Trump financial records | House panel schedules hearing, vote on new NAFTA deal House panel to hold hearing, vote on Trump's new NAFTA proposal MORE (R-Calif.) that existing House rules provide committees “with full authority to conduct investigations for all matters under their jurisdiction, including impeachment investigations.”

And in a letter last week issuing a subpoena to acting White House chief of staff Mick MulvaneyJohn (Mick) Michael MulvaneyThe Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by AdvaMed — House panel delays impeachment vote until Friday Senate gears up for battle over witnesses in impeachment trial Conservative group hits White House with billboard ads: 'What is Trump hiding?' MORE, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffSunday Talk Shows: Lawmakers look ahead to House vote on articles of impeachment, Senate trial Supreme Court takes up fight over Trump financial records Democrats approve two articles of impeachment against Trump in Judiciary vote MORE (D-Calif.), Oversight and Reform Committee Chairman Elijah CummingsElijah Eugene CummingsCongressional investigation finds Coast Guard leadership fell short on handling bullying Trump request for Ukrainian 'favor' tops notable quote list Impeachment can't wait MORE (D-Md.) and Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot EngelEliot Lance EngelBombshell Afghanistan report bolsters calls for end to 'forever wars' House Democrats expected to unveil articles of impeachment Tuesday House approves two-state resolution in implicit rebuke of Trump MORE (D-N.Y.) cited Jefferson's Manual in noting that "in the House various events have been credited with setting an impeachment in motion."

"A vote of the full House is not required to launch an impeachment inquiry, and there is no authority for the White House to make this claim," Schiff, Cummings and Engel wrote.

President TrumpDonald John TrumpRepublicans aim to avoid war with White House over impeachment strategy New York Times editorial board calls for Trump's impeachment Trump rips Michigan Rep. Dingell after Fox News appearance: 'Really pathetic!' MORE and his GOP allies in Congress argue that Democrats' impeachment inquiry is invalid unless the House conducts a floor vote to authorize it. 

White House counsel Pat Cipollone sent a letter to Pelosi and key committee chairmen on Tuesday stating that the president and his administration won't cooperate with the impeachment inquiry since there hasn't been a formal vote.

Republicans note that the impeachment inquiries into former Presidents Nixon and Clinton granted subpoena power to the minority and argue they should be given the same rights in the current investigation. But Republicans also want a formal vote so they can force vulnerable Democrats in competitive districts to go on the record about impeachment.

“In the history of our nation, the House of Representatives has never attempted to launch an impeachment inquiry against the president without a majority of the House taking political accountability for that decision by voting to authorize such a dramatic constitutional step,” Cipollone wrote in the letter to congressional Democrats.

But even if Democrats did hold a floor vote to authorize an impeachment inquiry, it's not clear that the Trump administration would begin complying with the investigation. A senior administration official declined to speculate on Tuesday as to whether Trump would cooperate if such a vote occurred.

The committee chairmen have issued subpoenas to the White House, State Department, Pentagon, Office of Management and Budget and Trump's personal attorney Rudy GiulianiRudy GiulianiGraham invites Giuliani to testify about recent Ukraine trip Judge orders State Dept. to search for and provide more Ukraine docs DOJ releases memos backing Trump immunity claims ahead of impeachment vote MORE.

Their latest subpoena came on Tuesday night to compel Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland to provide testimony and documents after the State Department blocked him at the last minute from appearing for a deposition to discuss his role in pressuring the Ukrainian government to open an investigation into former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenNew York Times editorial board calls for Trump's impeachment Graham invites Giuliani to testify about recent Ukraine trip Booker leads other 2020 Dems in petition urging DNC to change debate qualifications MORE and the business dealings of his son, Hunter Biden.