House Judiciary Committee has approved two
impeachment articles against President Donald Trump, moving the process towards
a full House vote.
The articles are expected to be voted on by the Democrat-controlled House of
Representatives next week.
President Trump is the fourth US president in history to face impeachment.
Speaking to reporters at the White House, Donald Trump again dismissed the
process as a “sham” and a “hoax”.
Today’s hearing lasted just over ten minutes before the two articles of
impeachment – abuse of power and obstructing Congress – were passed by 23 votes
The vote was delayed after more than 14 hours of rancorous debate.
Republicans criticized that decision by Democratic Party Chairman Jerry Nadler,
accusing him of pushing back the vote to ensure more TV coverage.
In the abuse of power article, President Trump is accused of soliciting a
foreign country to help him politically by trying to force Ukraine to launch a
corruption investigation into his political rival Joe Biden, a leading
Democratic presidential contender.
The president is also accused of obstructing Congress by failing to
co-operate with the House investigation.
Leading Democrats agreed the articles of impeachment described over nine
pages. They say that President Trump “betrayed the nation” by acting
Jerry Nadler made a brief statement to reporters after the vote, calling it
a “solemn and sad day” and pledged that the House of Representatives
would “act expeditiously”.
However, Republican Congressman Matt Gaetz said: “For Democrats, impeachment is their drug.”
Speaking from the White House Oval Office alongside the president of
Paraguay, President Trump called the impeachment process “a witch
hunt”, “a sham” and “a hoax”.
Donald Trump said Democrats were “trivializing impeachment” adding that they are “making absolute fools out of themselves”.
House Judiciary Committee has unveiled charges
against President Donald Trump, a key move in impeaching him.
The first article revealed by committee chief Jerry Nadler accuses President
Trump of abuse of power and the second accuses him of obstructing Congress.
The Republican president is said to have withheld aid to Ukraine for
domestic political reasons.
Donald Trump has urged the Senate to try him “sooner than later”.
He insists he has done “nothing wrong” and has dismissed the
impeachment process as “madness”.
If the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives Judiciary Committee
votes to approve the articles later this week, they will then be submitted to
the lower chamber for a full vote.
If, in turn, the articles are approved by the House, an impeachment trial in
the Republican-held Senate will take place, possibly early in January.
The impeachment process was launched after an anonymous
whistleblower complained to Congress in September about a July phone call by
Donald Trump to the president of Ukraine.
President Trump is alleged to have
committed “high crimes and misdemeanors” (a phrase from the US
Constitution) on two counts outlined by Jerry Nadler:
The first allegation is that he exercised the powers of his public office to “obtain an improper personal benefit while ignoring or injuring the national interest”, by allegedly putting pressure on Ukraine to interfere in the 2020 presidential election;
The second allegation is that “when he was caught, when the House investigated and opened an impeachment inquiry, President Trump engaged in unprecedented categorical and indiscriminate defiance of the impeachment inquiry”, thereby obstructing Congress.
President Trump “sees himself
as above the law”, Jerry Nadler said.
“We must be clear, no-one, not even the president, is
above the law.”
In the July phone call to Ukraine’s
President Volodymyr Zelensky,
President Trump appeared to tie US military assistance for Ukraine to its
launching of investigations that could help him politically.
In return for those investigations, Democrats say President Trump offered
two bargaining chips – $400 million of military aid that had already been
allocated by Congress, and a White House meeting for President.
Democrats say this pressure on a vulnerable US ally constitutes an abuse of
The first investigation President Trump wanted from Ukraine was into former
VP Joe Biden, his main Democratic challenger, and his son Hunter. Hunter Biden
joined the board of a Ukrainian energy company when his father was President
Barack Obama’s deputy.
The second Trump demand was that Ukraine should try to corroborate a
conspiracy theory that Ukraine, not Russia, had interfered in the last US
presidential election. This theory has been widely debunked, and US
intelligence agencies are unanimous in saying Moscow was behind the hacking of
Democratic Party emails in 2016.
President Trump railed at the announcement of the charges, declaring again on Twitter that it was a “witch hunt”.
The 448-page redacted document is
the result of a 22-month investigation by Robert Mueller, who was appointed to
investigate alleged Russian interference in the 2016 election and possible
collusion with the Trump campaign.
It includes large swathes of
redactions, which Jerry Nadler says “appear to be significant” in
revealing how Special Counsel Robert Mueller and his team came to their
Democrats have promised to continue
pursuing President Trump following the release of the report on April 18.
Robert Mueller’s report says he
found no criminal conspiracy between President Trump’s campaign and Russia, but
could not reach a concrete legal conclusion on whether Donald Trump tried to
obstruct the investigation.
The report says: “If we had confidence after a thorough
investigation of the facts that the president clearly did not commit
obstruction of justice, we would so state.
“Based on the facts and the applicable legal standards,
we are unable to reach that judgment.
“Accordingly, while this report does not conclude that
the president committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.”
The report also reveals that Donald
Trump instructed a White House lawyer to try to get Robert Mueller removed over
alleged “conflicts of interest”, but the lawyer resigned because
“he did not plan” to follow the directive.
Robert Mueller examined 10 actions
by the president in regards to obstruction of justice, which he said largely
“took place in public view”
The report says that potential
obstruction of justice by the president only failed because members of his
administration refused to “carry out orders”
However, about 10% of Robert Mueller’s
report is redacted – which means it may include yet more revelations.
Jerry Nadler issued the subpoena for the full, unredacted version on April
19, giving the US attorney general until May 1 to respond.
He said: “My committee needs and
is entitled to the full version of the report and the underlying evidence
consistent with past practice.
“The redactions appear to be significant.
We have so far seen none of the actual evidence that the Special Counsel
developed to make this case.”
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