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House approve rules for Trump impeachment probe

Sharply divided House has approved rules for impeachment inquiry

President Donald Trump. (Copyright 2019 CNN)

WASHINGTON – A sharply divided House has approved the rules for its impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump.

Thursday's near party-line 232-196 roll call was the chamber's first formal vote on a process that's likely to take months, possibly stretching into the early weeks of the 2020 election year.

Underscoring the gravity of the vote, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi presided over the chamber as it voted on the rules package. The vote was a victory for majority Democrats, who will control the investigation in the House.

It gives them the ability to curb the ability of Republicans to subpoena witnesses and of White House lawyers to present witnesses.

Republicans said the process was skewed against them and the White House.

The vote showed how neither side has budged in their fight over whether Trump's effort to squeeze Ukraine for dirt on his Democratic political foes merits forcing him from office.

Immediately following the results of the vote, Trump tweeted his reaction, "The Greatest Witch Hunt in American History!"

"The President has done nothing wrong, and the Democrats know it. Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats' unhinged obsession with this illegitimate impeachment proceeding does not hurt President Trump; it hurts the American people," Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham said in a statement.