In a party-line vote Thursday, the Democratic-majority House Judiciary Committee approved a resolution outlining procedures for an impeachment inquiry into the actions of President Donald Trump. Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., who represents Northwest Florida in Congress and serves on the Judiciary Committee, was highly critical of the vote, telling committee Democrats that there is little public support for impeaching President Trump.,

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Democratic majority on the House Judiciary Committee is pursuing "impeachment in drag," Rep. Matt Gaetz said during a Thursday committee meeting in which guidelines for pursuing the impeachment of President Donald Trump were established.

Gaetz's point was that the Judiciary Committee's Democrats are trying to disguise an intent to pursue impeachment, in part because there is little public appetite for taking that course.

The Northwest Florida congressman's comments came prior to a party-line committee vote approving a resolution that will allow the committee to designate some of its hearings as impeachment hearings, and provide for staff members, in addition to the representatives themselves, to question witnesses.

Additionally, according to an Associated Press report, the resolution will allow some evidence provided to the Judiciary Committee to remain private and will permit the president's counsel to officially respond to testimony.

"Throughout all the majority's theatrics, they have failed to move the needle at all when it comes to the people in this country," Gaetz said during the meeting. He cited a recent Monmouth University poll indicating that only 35 percent of Americans support impeachment of President Trump, with 59 percent opposing it.

"If we just check the scoreboard, my friends, we'll find that you're losing, and you're not making up any ground in spite of the fact that over and over again you try to smear the president of the United States with false accusations," Gaetz told committee Democrats.

"I've called it 'impeachment in drag,' because we've sort of dressed up impeachment like an oversight hearing," he added.

"Perhaps it's 'low-T impeachment' or 'low energy impeachment,' " Gaetz continued. "You don't have any support for this endeavor, and so we kind of lurch along. ... It's like a 'Seinfeld' hearing. It's a hearing about nothing."

In addition, Republicans have argued that the House of Representatives has never voted to open impeachment proceedings. But at Thursday's meeting, New York Democratic Rep. Jerry Nadler, House Judiciary Committee chairman, contended that no such vote was necessary.

"Some call this process an impeachment inquiry. Some call it an impeachment investigation," Nadler said in his opening statement. "There is no legal difference between these terms, and I no longer care to argue about the nomenclature."

Gaetz was particularly critical of the provision of the resolution allowing committee staff members to question witnesses.

"Can we at least be willing to stand behind our own arguments and our own questions as members of the United States Congress and members of the Judiciary Committee," Gaetz asked, "or is it the desire of the majority to delegate and slough off this important task ... ?"

According to the Associated Press report, the first hearing scheduled under the new impeachment rules is a Sept. 17 session with former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski. 

The Associated Press also noted that the committee is investigating the spending of taxpayer money at the president's hotels and properties and hush money payments Trump made to halt publication of potentially embarrassing stories.

For impeachment to proceed, the Judiciary Committee would have to bring the issue to the full House for a vote. If the House did approve articles of impeachment, the issue would go to the Senate, where a Republican majority presides.

In a statement issued after Thursday's committee vote, Gaetz said the panel's Democrats "have abandoned their responsibilities conferred upon them as Judiciary members and have subjected the American people to a protracted political battle, instead of focusing on issues that matter to the nation."

Gaetz went on to call the committee vote "a farce."

"House Democrats have failed for two years to convince the American people their efforts are legitimate, and they have failed again today," he said.