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

Rep. John GaramendiJohn Raymond GaramendiTrump labels Tlaib 'a despicable human being' Tlaib says Democrats have discussed detaining White House officials who don't testify Democratic lawmaker: We should 'march' uncooperative witnesses 'to a little jail' 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 PelosiBiden on impeachment: 'I'm the only reason' it's happening Democrats to offer resolution demanding Trump reverse Syria decision Rand Paul calls for probe of Democrats over Ukraine letter MORE (D-Calif.) said in a letter last week to House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin Owen McCarthyFurious Republicans prepare to rebuke Trump on Syria Five ways Trump's Syria decision spells trouble The Hill's Morning Report — Arrest of Giuliani associates triggers many questions 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 MulvaneyHillicon Valley: Trump official declines to testify on trade protections for tech | Senators call for better info-sharing on supply chain threats | Apple pulls app after Chinese pressure Overnight Energy: Dems subpoena Perry in impeachment inquiry | EPA to overhaul rules on lead contamination tests | Commerce staff wrote statement rebuking weather service for contradicting Trump Commerce staff drafted statement rebuking weather service for contradicting Trump's hurricane predictions MORE, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffTrump hits Fox News's Chris Wallace over Ukraine coverage Schiff: Whistleblower testimony might not be necessary A Republican Watergate veteran's perspective on a Trump impeachment MORE (D-Calif.), Oversight and Reform Committee Chairman Elijah CummingsElijah Eugene CummingsCracks emerge in White House strategy as witness testifies Overnight Defense: Pentagon insists US hasn't abandoned Kurds | Trump expands sanctions authority against Turkey | Ex-Ukraine ambassador says Trump pushed for her ouster On The Money: Trump announces limited trade deal with China | Appeals court rules against Trump over financial records | Trump expands authority to sanction Turkey MORE (D-Md.) and Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot EngelEliot Lance EngelFurious Republicans prepare to rebuke Trump on Syria Democrats to offer resolution demanding Trump reverse Syria decision Sunday shows — Officials rush to Trump's defense on Syria, sanctions 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 TrumpWHCA calls on Trump to denounce video depicting him shooting media outlets Video of fake Trump shooting members of media shown at his Miami resort: report Trump hits Fox News's Chris Wallace over Ukraine coverage 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 GiulianiRand Paul calls for probe of Democrats over Ukraine letter Sunday shows — Officials rush to Trump's defense on Syria, sanctions Cruz: 'Of course' it's not appropriate to ask China to investigate Bidens 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 hits Fox News's Chris Wallace over Ukraine coverage Schiff: Whistleblower testimony might not be necessary Trump warns Democrats will lose House seats over impeachment MORE and the business dealings of his son, Hunter Biden.