The Latest: House approve rules for Trump impeachment probe

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced the official start of an impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump. (MGN)
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WASHINGTON (AP) - The Latest on President Donald Trump and the House impeachment resolution (all times local):

11:30 a.m.

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.

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10:25 a.m.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says a vote to approve ground rules for their impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump is a solemn but necessary duty for lawmakers.

In a floor speech before Thursday's vote, Pelosi said, "This is not any cause for any glee or comfort."

Standing next to a large U.S. flag in the well of the House, Pelosi said the impeachment inquiry was necessary to defend the Constitution and prevent an abuse of power by Trump.

"The times have found each and every one of us in this room," Pelosi said. She urged lawmakers to vote in favor of the impeachment rules "to protect the Constitution of the United States. What is at stake in all of this is nothing less than our democracy."

The investigation is focused on Trump's efforts to push Ukraine to investigate his Democratic political opponents by withholding military aid and an Oval Office meeting craved by the country's new president.

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9:37 a.m.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi is asking all Democratic lawmakers to come to the House floor as a show of solidarity for the impeachment inquiry resolution.

The House is set to take its first vote Thursday on the resolution that affirms the investigation into President Donald Trump and outlines the process for public hearings and possibly drafting articles of impeachment.

Pelosi sent out word for lawmakers to join the floor debate as proceedings were getting underway, according to a person familiar with the situation and granted anonymity to discuss it.

Few Democrats are expected to oppose the plan in a vote that is expected to fall largely along party lines.

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12:08 a.m.

House Democrats and Republicans alike are rounding up votes on the ground rules for considering the impeachment of President Donald Trump.

A near party-line vote is expected Thursday on the eight pages of procedures, which are certain to be passed in the Democratic-controlled House. While Republicans say the process has been secretive and tilted against them, Democrats counter that their plan follows impeachment efforts in the past.

The investigation is focused on Trump's efforts to push Ukraine to investigate his Democratic political opponents by withholding military aid and an Oval Office meeting craved by the country's new president.

It is likely to take weeks or more before House lawmakers vote on whether to impeach Trump. If they do impeach, the Senate would decide whether to remove Trump from office.