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

Rep. John GaramendiJohn Raymond GaramendiEquilibrium/Sustainability — Skiers adapt to climate change House passes bill to strengthen shipping supply chain At 75, the Fulbright deserves respect and more funding 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 PelosiMan who threatened to kill Ocasio-Cortez, Pelosi pleads guilty to federal charges The Hill's 12:30 Report: Dems look to repackage BBB into salvageable bill The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden clarifies his remarks on Russia MORE (D-Calif.) said in a letter last week to House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin McCarthyMask rules spark political games and a nasty environment in the House Effort to overhaul archaic election law wins new momentum Watch: GOP leaders discuss Biden's first year in office 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 MulvaneyMick MulvaneyTrump's relocation of the Bureau of Land Management was part of a familiar Republican playbook Jan. 6 committee issues latest round of subpoenas for rally organizers The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Alibaba - To vote or not? Pelosi faces infrastructure decision MORE, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffMask rules spark political games and a nasty environment in the House CIA says 'Havana syndrome' unlikely a result of 'worldwide campaign' by foreign power The Hill's Morning Report - Biden to make voting rights play in Atlanta MORE (D-Calif.), Oversight and Reform Committee Chairman Elijah CummingsElijah Eugene CummingsThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by National Industries for the Blind - Manchin says no; White House fires back House Democrats find drug companies 'unjustified' in price hikes Your must-read holiday book list from members of Congress MORE (D-Md.) and Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot EngelEliot Lance EngelLawmakers pay tribute to Colin Powell NYC snafu the latest flub from a broken elections agency Cynthia Nixon backs primary challenger to Rep. Carolyn Maloney 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 TrumpBiden says Roe v. Wade under attack like 'never before' On student loans, Biden doesn't have an answer yet Grill company apologizes after sending meatloaf recipe on same day of rock star's death 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 GiulianiOver 3,000 of Giuliani's communications released to prosecutors following FBI seizure National Archives transfers contested presidential documents to Jan. 6 committee Rhode Island school revokes honorary degrees for Giuliani, Flynn 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 BidenSunday shows preview: US reaffirms support for Ukraine amid threat of Russian invasion The Fed has a clear mandate to mitigate climate risks Biden says Roe v. Wade under attack like 'never before' MORE and the business dealings of his son, Hunter Biden.