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

Rep. John GaramendiJohn Raymond GaramendiWuhan is the final straw: The world needs to divest from China GOP seizes on 'defund the police' to galvanize base Peace Corps faces uncertain future with no volunteers in field 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 PelosiTeachers union launches 0K ad buy calling for education funding in relief bill No signs of breakthrough for stalemated coronavirus talks Governors air frustrations with Trump on unemployment plans MORE (D-Calif.) said in a letter last week to House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin Owen McCarthySunday shows preview: White House, congressional Democrats unable to breach stalemate over coronavirus relief A trillion stimulus, but Kevin McCarthy for renewable energy — leading businesses want to change that When will telling the truth in politics matter again? 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 MulvaneyFauci says positive White House task force reports don't always match what he hears on the ground Bottom line White House, Senate GOP clash over testing funds MORE, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffGOP chairmen hit back at accusation they are spreading disinformation with Biden probe Schiff, Khanna call for free masks for all Americans in coronavirus aid package House Intelligence panel opens probe into DHS's involvement in response to protests MORE (D-Calif.), Oversight and Reform Committee Chairman Elijah CummingsElijah Eugene CummingsBill Maher delivers mock eulogy for Trump The Hill's Campaign Report: Biden comes to Washington to honor John Lewis Lawmakers set for tearful goodbye to John Lewis MORE (D-Md.) and Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot EngelEliot Lance EngelOvernight Defense: Esper confirms plans to drop below 5,000 troops in Afghanistan | State Department says it's cleared of wrongdoing in emergency arms sales before investigation's release State says it will be cleared by watchdog report US 'deeply concerned' over election in Belarus 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 TrumpTeachers union launches 0K ad buy calling for education funding in relief bill FDA head pledges 'we will not cut corners' on coronavirus vaccine Let our values drive COVID-19 liability protection 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 GiulianiCoronavirus concerns emerge around debates Giuliani says Black Lives Matter is 'domestic terrorist' group Commission on Presidential Debates rejects Trump campaign call for earlier debate 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 BidenTrump says he is 'seriously' considering a capital gains tax cut Why Joe Biden is in trouble Harris favored as Biden edges closer to VP pick MORE and the business dealings of his son, Hunter Biden.