WASHINGTON – The House Judiciary Committee will begin meeting Wednesday to vote on two articles of impeachment accusing President Donald Trump of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, potentially setting the stage for a historic House floor vote and Senate trial.
The meeting begins at 7 p.m. Wednesday to debate potential amendments and then would resume at 9 a.m. Thursday, under the committee schedule. No deadline is set for a final vote.
If the panel adopts one or both articles, it would be for only the fourth time in history. The full House would then vote as early as next week on whether to impeach Trump. If approved, the Senate would hold a trial in early 2020, to decide whether to remove the president from office.
The articles of impeachment announced Tuesday – abuse of power and obstruction of Congress – closely track the Intelligence Committee’s findings of Trump’s dealings with Ukraine. The panel found Trump withheld a meeting and military aid from Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky while pressuring his counterpart to investigate Trump’s political rival, former Vice President Joe Biden.
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The first article alleges Trump abused his power by urging the Ukraine investigation. The second article alleges Trump obstructed Congress by refusing to cooperate with the House investigation, including defying subpoenas for documents and testimony.
“A president who declares himself above accountability, above the American people, and above Congress’ power of impeachment, which is meant to protect against threats to our democratic institutions, is a president who sees himself as above the law,” Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., said Tuesday in unveiling the articles. “We must be clear: No one, not even the president is above the law.”
The inquiry bitterly divided Congress along party lines. Democrats contend Trump represents an urgent threat because he sought to interfere in the 2020 election.
But Trump has called the inquiry a partisan “WITCH HUNT!” a phrase he tweeted again Tuesday, and a “hoax.” Trump met Zelensky and released the $391 million in aid without an announcement of investigations. Congressional Republicans contend Trump had the authority to suspend aid and set foreign policy.
Stephanie Grisham, the White House press secretary, called the articles a “baseless and partisan attempt to undermine a sitting president” when the articles were unveiled.
“House Democrats have long wanted to overturn the votes of 63 million Americans,” Grisham said. “They have determined that they must impeach President Trump because they cannot legitimately defeat him at the ballot box.”
Only two presidents have been impeached – Andrew Johnson in 1868 and Bill Clinton in 1998 – but neither was removed. Former President Richard Nixon resigned in 1974 after the Judiciary Committee approved articles of impeachment, but before a full House vote.
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