Democrats have announced the House will
vote on January 15 on sending articles of impeachment against President Donald
Trump to the Senate.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told
fellow Democrats she would also name the House managers who will prosecute the
case against President Trump in the Senate trial.
Nancy Pelosi has been withholding
the articles of impeachment in a row with Republicans over allowing witnesses.
Donald Trump was impeached by the
Democratic-led House last month.
The president is accused of abuse of
power and obstruction of Congress.
He denies trying to pressure Ukraine
to open an investigation into his would-be Democratic White House challenger
President Trump has been touting
unsubstantiated corruption claims about Joe Biden and his son, Hunter, who
accepted a lucrative board position with a Ukrainian energy company while his
father handled American-Ukraine relations as US vice-president.
The impeachment trial by the Senate
will be only the third ever of a US president.
Donald Trump’s fellow Republicans
control the chamber 53-47, and are all but certain to acquit him.
Once the resolution is approved, the
House managers will walk to the Senate and formally present the articles of
impeachment in the well of the chamber, escorted by the sergeant-at-arms. The
articles of impeachment will be read out.
On January 14, Senate leader Mitch
McConnell met Republican senators behind closed doors to map out the ground
He said the trial was likely to
begin in earnest on January 21.
The first couple of days will
involve housekeeping duties, possibly later this week.
Supreme Court Chief Justice John
Roberts will be sworn in to preside, and he will administer an oath to all 100
senators to deliver “impartial justice” as jurors.
Lawmakers may hear opening arguments
next week. The House managers will lay out their case against President Trump,
and his legal team will respond.
The trial is expected to last up to
five weeks, with the Senate taking only Sundays off.
President Trump suggested over the weekend that he might prefer simply
dismissing the charges rather than giving legitimacy to the “hoax”
case against him.
Moderate Republican senators Susan Collins of Maine and Mitt Romney of Utah
have made clear they would oppose any such motion.
On January 14, the White House said the president is “not afraid of a
fight” in his trial.
Deputy press secretary Hogan Gidley said President Trump was in fact eager
for witnesses to testify that “this man did nothing wrong”.
One of the biggest sticking points between House Democrats and Senate
Republicans has been whether testimony will be allowed during the trial.
Republican senators Lindsey Graham and Mike Rounds said on January 14 the
Senate’s trial plan will guarantee votes on whether to call witnesses and hear
It takes just 51 votes to approve rules or call witnesses, meaning four
Republican senators would have to side with Democrats to insist on testimony.
The White House is understood to have identified several possible defectors
in the Republican ranks, including Susan Collins and Mitt Romney.
The others are Senators Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Cory Gardner of Colorado
and Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, who is retiring this year.
Republicans say that if witnesses are allowed, they may try to subpoena Joe Biden and his son, and the unidentified government whistleblower whose complaint about President Trump sparked the whole impeachment inquiry.
A resolution setting out the next steps in President Donald Trump’s impeachment have been published by House Democrats.
The motion sets out a more public phase of the inquiry and hands the lead
role in hearings to the chairman of the intelligence committee, Adam Schiff.
The House, controlled by the Democrats, will vote on the measure on October
A White House spokeswoman said the resolution was an “illegitimate
So far, hearings have been held behind closed doors. This vote to make the
impeachment process public is about the procedure, and not a ballot on whether
or not to impeach the president.
Meanwhile, Republicans have criticized Democrats for the closed hearings up
to this point, in which Republican lawmakers have also taken part. However,
Democrats insist they were needed to gather evidence ahead of the public stage
of the inquiry, and deny allegations they have been secretive.
President Trump is accused of trying to pressure Ukraine into investigating
unsubstantiated corruption claims against his political rival, Joe Biden, and
his son, Hunter Biden, who worked with Ukrainian gas company Burisma.
The president denies wrongdoing and calls the impeachment inquiry a
On October 29, the impeachment inquiry heard from Lt. Col. Alexander
Vindman, a White House official who had monitored a phone call on July 25
between President Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
That call sparked a whistleblower complaint and led to the impeachment
Col. Alexander Vindman said he was “concerned” by the call as he
“did not think it was proper to demand that a foreign government
investigate a US citizen”.
The eight-page document sets out a two-stage process for the next phase of
In the first, the House Intelligence Committee will continue its investigations
and hold public hearings. It will have the right to make public transcripts of
depositions taken in private.
In the second phase, a public report
on the findings will be sent to the House Judiciary Committee which will
conduct its own proceedings and report on “such resolutions, articles of
impeachment, or other recommendations as it deems proper”.
President Trump’s lawyers will be
allowed to take part in the Judiciary Committee stage.
Republicans on the committees will
be able to subpoena documents or witnesses – although they could still be
blocked as both committees are Democrat-controlled.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has said
a House vote on the resolution would take place on October 31. She has
previously said such a vote is not required under the US Constitution.
House Republican leader Kevin
McCarthy, speaking before the resolution was unveiled, said the entire process
was a “sham.”
Referring to the closed-door meetings and depositions he said: “You can’t put the genie back in the bottle. Due process starts at the beginning.”
However, Hunter Biden acknowledged the possible political ramifications of
his work, saying his failure to do so previously demonstrated “poor
“Did I make a mistake? Well,
maybe in the grand scheme of things, yeah,” he said.
“But did I make a mistake based
upon some ethical lapse? Absolutely not.”
Hunter Biden stressed his record on the board of the UN World Food Program
and work for US corporations to defend his lucrative role as a board member for
a Ukrainian gas company.
He said: “I think that I had as
much knowledge as anybody else that was on the board, if not more.”
However, he acknowledged the appointment may have resulted from his father’s
“I don’t think that there’s a lot
of things that would have happened in my life if my last name wasn’t Biden,”
Hunter Biden said.
His foreign business ventures have pulled him to the epicenter of the
ongoing impeachment inquiry into President Trump.
President Trump and his allies have claimed that as vice-president Joe Biden
encouraged the firing of Ukraine’s top prosecutor because the prosecutor was
investigating Burisma, a gas company that employed Hunter Biden.
These allegations – though widely discredited – were raised by President
Trump in a July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
This call has fuelled the Democratic-led impeachment investigation. The
inquiry is trying to establish whether President Trump withheld nearly $400 million
in aid to nudge President Zelensky into launching an inquiry into the Bidens.
President Trump tweeted: “A big scandal at @ABC News. They got caught using really gruesome FAKE footage of the Turks bombing in Syria. A real disgrace. Tomorrow they will ask softball questions to Sleepy Joe Biden’s son, Hunter, like why did Ukraine & China pay you millions when you knew nothing? Payoff?”
The president has continued to seize on Hunter Biden’s dealings in Ukraine
and China to stage political attacks against him and his father, charging both
Bidens with corruption, without offering specific evidence.
In an interview on October 15, Hunter Biden dismissed the president’s claims
as a “ridiculous conspiracy idea”.
Last week, Hunter Biden announced he would step down from the board of BHR
(Shanghai) Equity Investment Fund Management Company.
His lawyer, George Mesires, told media his client had not acquired an equity
interest in the fund until 2017, after his father had left office.
Hunter Biden said last week that he would not work for any foreign-owned companies if his father is elected president.
Former US ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch has told Congress she was ousted over “unfounded and false claims by people with clearly questionable motives”.
She said she was “incredulous” at being dismissed by President
Donald Trump in May.
Marie Yovanovitch’s testimony is part of an impeachment inquiry against President
The Democratic probe is looking into whether the Republican president
improperly pressured Ukraine to investigate his political rival Joe Biden.
The scandal was sparked by a whistleblower complaint about a July phone call
between President Trump and his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelensky.
During that conversation, President Trump described Marie Yovanovitch as “bad news”, according to a rough transcript released by the White House.
The decision to dismiss Marie Yovanovitch several months earlier reportedly
followed President Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani and other
conservatives arguing she was biased against the president.
Rudy Giuliani had been working in
Ukraine to press the authorities to investigate widely debunked corruption
allegations against Joe Biden, and his son, Hunter, who was associated with a
The lawyer is coming under
increasing scrutiny over his work for the president. Asked by reporters on
October 11 if Rudy Giuliani was still his lawyer, President Trump answered
ambiguously: “I don’t know. He’s a
very good attorney and he has been my attorney.”
In a prepared statement, Marie
I understand that I served at the pleasure of the president.
“I was nevertheless incredulous that the US government
chose to remove an ambassador based, as best as I can tell, on unfounded and
false claims by people with clearly questionable motives.”
Marie Yovanovitch said she
did not know Rudy Giuliani’s reasons for attacking her.
“Equally fictitious is the notion
that I am disloyal to President Trump,” she said.
“I have heard the allegation in
the media that I supposedly told the embassy team to ignore the president’s
orders ‘since he was going to be impeached.’ That allegation is false.”
She warned of the harm that will come to the US when “bad actors”
realize “how easy it is to use fiction and innuendo to manipulate our
Marie Yovanovitch said she had never met or spoken with Hunter Biden and
that Joe Biden had never raised with her the subject of his son or the
Ukrainian gas company that employed him.
She also said she learned that President Trump had called for her ousting
since 2018 despite Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan telling her she had
done nothing wrong.
Marie Yovanovitch said: “He said
that the president had lost confidence in me and no longer wished me to serve
as his ambassador. He added that there had been a concerted campaign against
A Barack Obama-appointee, Marie Yovanovitch was confirmed by the
Republican-controlled Senate and served as US ambassador to Ukraine from August
2016 until last May.
The whistleblower complaint noted Marie Yovanovitch’s surprise dismissal was a red flag for some officials.
President Donald Trump has branded a
whistleblower allegation that he made a promise to a foreign leader – believed
to be Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky – as a “ridiculous
Donald Trump said his talks with leaders were always “totally
According to reports, President Trump wanted Ukraine to investigate Joe
Biden and his son, Hunter – who was on a Ukrainian gas company board – in
return for more US military support.
Joe Biden is frontrunner to be the Democrat’s 2020 presidential candidate.
He wrote in a statement: “If
these reports are true, then there is truly no bottom to President Trump’s
willingness to abuse his power and abase our country.”
Joe Biden called on President Trump to “immediately release” a
transcript of the phone call “so that the American people can judge for
In its report on the complaint by the whistleblower, the Washington Post said the intelligence
official had found President Trump’s comment to the foreign leader “so troubling”
that they went to the department’s inspector general.
The Wall Street Journal,
meanwhile, quoted sources as saying President Trump had urged President
Zelensky about eight times to work with his lawyer Rudy Giuliani on an
investigation into Joe Biden’s son, but had not offered anything in return.
On September 20, House Speaker Nancy
Pelosi said that reports of the complaint raised “grave, urgent
concerns” for US national security.
Presidents Trump and Zelensky spoke
by phone on July 25. The whistleblower’s complaint is dated August 21.
Donald Trump described the complaint
as “just another political hack job”.
Speaking alongside Australia’s
leader Scott Morrison in the White House, the president said: “It’s a ridiculous story. It’s a
partisan whistleblower. He shouldn’t even have information. I’ve had
conversations with many leaders. They’re always appropriate.”
President Trump also called for Joe Biden’s
finances to be scrutinized.
He told reporters: “It doesn’t matter what I discussed,
someone ought to look into Joe Biden’s billions of dollars and you wouldn’t
look into that because he’s a Democrat.”
On September 19, President Trump
wrote on Twitter that he knew all his phone calls to foreign leaders were
listened to by US agencies.
Ukraine says President Trump and President Zelensky will meet next week in
New York during the UN General Assembly.
Democrats are trying to get the complaint turned over to Congress, with many
details still unknown.
Earlier this month, before the whistleblower’s complaint came to light,
House Democrats launched an investigation into President Trump and Rudy
Giuliani’s interactions with Ukraine.
Three Democratic panel heads – Eliot Engel (foreign affairs), Adam Schiff
(intelligence) and Elijah Cummings (oversight) – said Donald Trump and Rudy Giuliani
had attempted “to manipulate the Ukrainian justice system to benefit the
president’s re-election campaign and target a possible political
They allege that President Trump and Rudy Giuliani tried to pressure the Ukrainian government into investigating Joe and Hunter Biden.
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