The House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday announced it will hold a Dec. 4 hearing on the constitutional basis for impeachment, bringing the Democrat-led chamber one step closer to its final vote on whether to impeach the president.
The new schedule in the impeachment inquiry shows the Intelligence Committee, which spent weeks interviewing witnesses in public and behind closed doors, passing the torch to the Judiciary panel, which in the past has been responsible for recommending articles of impeachment to the full House.
"The impeachment inquiry is entering into a new phase," Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., said in a statement.
"Our first task is to explore the framework put in place to respond to serious allegations of impeachable misconduct like those against President Trump," Nadler said.
In a letter to the president, Nadler asked if Trump or his counsel "plan to attend the hearing or make a request to question the witness panel" and gave them a deadline of Dec. 1 at 6 p.m. to respond.
"I remain committed to ensuring a fair and informative process," Nadler said. "While we invite you to this hearing, we remind you that if you continue to refuse to make witnesses and documents available to the committees of jurisdiction, under H. Res. 660, 'the chair shall have the discretion to impose appropriate remedies.'"
As part of that resolution — which passed in the House last month on mostly partisan lines — the Intelligence Committee must write up a report of its findings and recommendations and pass it on to the Judiciary Committee. It was unclear whether that report would be produced before the Dec. 4 hearing.
Trump and his allies have railed against the proceedings in the Intelligence panel, led by Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., as biased and unfair, in part because Trump was not permitted to participate in them, either directly or through his counsel.
"At base, the president has a choice to make," Nadler's statement said. "He can take this opportunity to be represented in the impeachment hearings, or he can stop complaining about the process."