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Pelosi rebuffs calls for full House vote on authorizing impeachment inquiry

Pelosi and Schiff update on impeachment inquiry

Washington — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she's not planning to hold a full House vote to formally authorize an impeachment inquiry, following a meeting with House Democrats to discuss the possibility Tuesday night.

"There's no requirement that we have a vote, and so at this time, we will not be having a vote," Pelosi said at a press conference after the meeting. "We're not here to call bluffs."

Republicans have argued that the impeachment inquiry is illegitimate because the full House has not voted to formally begin an investigation. The inquiry is currently being carried out by several committees. The White House counsel has also cited the lack of a full vote as a reason that the White House is not cooperating with the inquiry. A formal House vote is not a step that is required by the Constitution to begin an impeachment inquiry, although previous inquiries have started with such a vote.

The vote would force Democrats and Republicans to go on the record for their support, or lack thereof, for an impeachment inquiry. Some freshmen Democrats who flipped Republican seats in 2018 have been hesitant to come out in support for an impeachment inquiry, as it could be politically unpopular in their districts. However, such a vote would also force vulnerable Republicans to either align themselves with the president or risk alienating the Republican base.

A House Democrat who attended Pelosi's caucus meeting Tuesday night told CBS News' Ed O'Keefe that "too much is made of this process question."

"We're already in an impeachment inquiry. So if we then did have a vote now, it would sort of give into the argument the GOP is making. But frankly, this whole issue is a distraction. The only thing [House Republicans] have to talk about is process. Because the facts are so damning," the Democrat said.

The member spoke on the condition of anonymity to speak frankly about the mood among many Democrats in the room.

Pelosi's meeting didn't enjoy full attendance, with several members, especially from the west coast, still en route to Washington or racing from the airport to arrive in time. 

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