As impeachment moves to House Judiciary for the next phase, here's what you can expect

Christal Hayes, USA TODAY

WASHINGTON – For weeks, the House Intelligence Committee has investigated President Donald Trump's conduct with Ukraine.

The panel held hearings and called witnesses, and the public heard the lengthy testimony filled with accusations that Trump used his power as president to withhold both $400 million in military aid and a key White House meeting from Ukraine unless it moved forward with a pair of investigations that were helpful for Trump politically.

Now, the impeachment inquiry hearings will head to the House Judiciary Committee — the panel tasked with both deciding whether Trump's conduct is impeachable and drafting articles of impeachment. 

The hearings mark the next phase in the impeachment effort in the House. Here's what you can expect and how things will differ during this next chapter. 

More: House Judiciary Committee sets first Trump impeachment inquiry hearing for Dec. 4

More: Who are the 17 witnesses in the Trump impeachment inquiry and what have they said?

Theatrics and partisan bickering 

The level of decorum that seemed to surprise members of both parties likely won't be on display this week. While there were moments of partisan bickering throughout the process in the House Intelligence Committee, things are likely to come to a head on the House Judiciary Committee.

The panel is filled with many far-right-leaning Republicans and far-left-leaning progressives who are known for their theatrics, which in the past has turned hearings examining Trump into somewhat of a chaotic circus.

On the Democratic side, the committee boasts some of the caucus' leading progressives, including the progressive caucus co-chair Pramila Jayapal, and those known for antics and theatrics, like Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Tenn., who once ate from a bucket of fried chicken while he sat on the dais after Attorney General William Barr didn't show up for a hearing.

"Chicken Barr should have shown up today and answered questions," Cohen said at the time. 

The other side of the aisle includes some of the president's most vocal defenders, who have consistently remained loyal and bashed impeachment as a partisan witch hunt.  

Those include Rep. Jim Jordan, who was temporarily moved to the House Intelligence Committee before the panel started public impeachment hearings and took direct aim at Democrats in his questioning to undermine witnesses and the claims lodged against Trump. 

Jordan is likely to remain a leading voice as he was one of a number of lawmakers who heard hundreds of hours of testimony from witnesses as part of the Ukraine probe. 

Others on the committee, including Reps. Matt Gaetz, Louie Gohmert and Andy Biggs, chair of the House Freedom Caucus, are sure to put on a show in defending Trump as his future in the White House is debated. 

Trump decides against defending himself to Congress 

The Judiciary hearings offered Trump and his attorneys a chance to mount a defense in Congress, though the president has pushed back on the inquiry for weeks on Twitter and in media interviews. 

But the White House told  the committee Sunday it will not participate in a new hearing this week.

"This baseless and highly partisan inquiry violates all past historical precedent, basic due process rights, and fundamental fairness," White House counsel Pat Cipollone wrote to Rep. Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., chairman of the House Judiciary Committee.

Trump will have another opportunity to inform the committee whether he or his counsel intends to participate in the hearings. Nadler gave the president a Friday deadline

Nadler also asked whether Republicans will want to issue any subpoenas throughout this process, something that was also offered in the House Intelligence portion of the inquiry. Democrats blocked the GOP in serving subpoenas and calling several witnesses, including the whistleblower who filed a complaint that helped launch this inquiry and Hunter Biden, whom Trump wanted Ukraine to investigate.

It's unclear whether Republicans will try to call any witnesses through subpoena and who those individuals might be. Rep. Doug Collins, R-Ga., the top Republican on the committee, has until Friday to notify Nadler over whether the Republicans seek to issue any subpoenas. 

Evidence meets the law, drafting articles of impeachment

Democrats have said that the hearings in the House Intelligence Committee outlined the evidence.  The phase in the House Judiciary will outline the law and Constitution and debate whether Trump committed impeachable offenses.

The first hearing on Wednesday will feature Constitutional experts who will discuss what impeachment is, what the founding fathers had in mind when they added it to the Constitution and the historical basis for impeachment. 

More: While focus is on Ukraine, here's the evidence committees have compiled to bolster Trump impeachment case

It's not clear how long this phase in the House Judiciary will last, especially as Republicans could attempt to call witnesses and the president's counsel potential role in subsequent hearings. 

But the panel will serve as the ultimate decider in the public eye over whether articles of impeachment should be drawn up against Trump. 

House Democrats have been clear that if they decide to take up articles of impeachment, they want to vote on it before Christmas — leaving about three weeks for hearings, drafting of one or more articles of impeachment, a vote in the House Judiciary Committee on articles and a full House vote. 

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Trump impeachment inquiry: How hearings in House Judiciary will differ