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Democrats push impeachment resolution forward, call more witnesses

President Trump speaks as he walks from the Oval Office to board Marine One and depart from the South Lawn at the White House on Oct 23, 2019 in Washington, D.C. Washington Post photo by Jabin Botsford.

WASHINGTON — A Democrat-led panel is expected to advance a resolution Wednesday, Oct. 30, setting the parameters of the public phase of the Trump impeachment inquiry, as House investigators hear from two more witnesses behind closed doors about the Ukraine controversy.

Two career State Department officials are the latest scheduled witnesses to be deposed in the accelerating inquiry, which Democrats will take public soon. The full House is expected to vote Thursday on the new resolution laying out the rules.

While Republicans have been highly critical of the process, President Donald Trump is urging his allies to defend him on the substance of the allegations against him. He argues he did nothing wrong during the July call in which he pressed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate former vice president Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., criticized the Democratic-backed resolution setting the parameters for the next stage of the impeachment inquiry, saying it falls "way short" in providing due process protections for Trump.

"Yesterday, House Democrats released their much-hyped resolution, which was advertised as bringing fairness and due process into Speaker Pelosi and Chairman Schiff's closed-door impeach inquiry," McConnell said, referencing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi , D-Calif., and House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif.

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"Unfortunately, the draft resolution that has been released does nothing of the sort. It falls way short, way short."

McConnell said protections for Trump in the resolution are inadequate, characterizing them as "no due process now, but maybe some later, but only if we feel like it."

If Trump is impeached by the House, a trial will be held in the Republican-controlled Senate.

Also Wednesday, Catherine Croft, one of two career diplomats expected to testify Wednesday, is appearing under a subpoena, according to an official working on the impeachment inquiry who requested anonymity to discuss closed-door proceedings.

"In light of an attempt by the White House and State Department to direct Catherine Croft not to appear for her scheduled deposition, and efforts to also limit any testimony that does occur, the House Intelligence Committee issued a subpoena to compel her testimony this morning," the official said, adding that Croft is currently fielding questions from both Democratic and Republican lawmakers and staff.

Meanwhile, Democrats are increasingly expressing fears that Trump could let the government shut down as a distraction from the impeachment inquiry.

Without passage of a short-term spending bill signed by Trump, the government will shut down on Nov. 22. Republican lawmakers have insisted that is not likely, but that hasn't stopped Democrats about speculating about the possibility.

During a morning television appearance, Rep. Seth Moulton, D-Mass., said Trump has shown an ability to go to great lengths to be disruptive, including directing his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani to intervene in Ukraine policy.

"If the president of the United States is willing to go to the lengths of setting up this parallel diplomatic channel through Rudy Giuliani ... then sure, he's willing to shut down the government if that impedes this investigation," Moulton said on CNN. "I think this president is incredibly dangerous because of the ways that he is willing to put Americans and our national security in danger for his personal political benefit."

His comments echoed those made by Senate Minority Leader Chuck. Schumer, D-N.Y., on Tuesday.

"I'm increasingly worried that President Trump will want to shut down the government again because of impeachment," Schumer told reporters. "He always likes to create diversions. I hope and pray he won't want to cause another government shutdown because it might be a diversion away from impeachment."

Trump suggested that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., is using the impeachment for her own political gain, calling it "disgraceful."

In a tweet, Trump quoted "Fox & Friends" host Steve Doocy saying during Wednesday's broadcast that Pelosi was pursuing impeachment because she needed to satisfy demands from "her political left" to retain her speakership.

"A disgraceful use of Impeachment," Trump wrote in his own words. "Will backfire!"

Pelosi has repeatedly said that partisan politics is not driving the inquiry.

This article was written by John Wagner, a reporter for The Washington Post.

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