House Judiciary panel takes first steps toward impeachment vote

Friday, 13 Dec, 2019

Politicians quickly dug in for the second day of the judiciary session, only the fourth time in U.S. history a president is facing impeachment, for what is expected to be a long day of fights over amendments, primarily by Republicans trying to stop the impeachment.

In preparing the impeachment articles, House Democrats opted not to pursue a third charge, obstruction of justice, a criminal offence that would necessarily have expanded the impeachment effort to include the president's attempts to disrupt the investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller of Russian interference in the 2016 election that elevated Mr. Trump to the presidency.

Republicans on the committee accused Democrats of overplaying their hand and said there were no crimes alleged in the impeachment articles.

USA Today says it supports the House impeaching President Donald Trump.

The Judiciary Committee is expected to take up the articles later this week.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) again asserted that he does not expect President Donald Trump to be convicted and removed by the Senate when impeachment reaches the upper congressional body.

"No crime!" the USA president said on Twitter early on Thursday.

But analysts believe that Republicans will stay loyal to Trump and acquit him in the Senate, where they hold a majority, while the Democrats will vote to impeach him in the House of Representatives on those charges.

They are likely to be rejected by Democrats on party lines. "All of us coming from Ohio, Wisconsin, Tennessee and Texas", Jordan said.

'I would just like to note that the argument that somehow lying about a sexual affair is an abuse of presidential power, but the misuse of presidential power to get a benefit somehow doesn't matter, ' Lofgren, who represents California's 19th district, said.

Debate on that first Republican amendment lasted for almost three hours before the panel rejected it, 23-17, on a party-line vote.

Democrats are also unified.

Debating the vote before a primetime national television audience, the partisan animosity between Republicans and Democrats at times appeared personal. Most Republicans contend, as Trump does, that he has done nothing wrong, and all of them are expected to vote against the articles.

Zoe Lofgren's assertion stemmed from Republican claims in the hearing Thursday that former President Bill Clinton's impeachment was warranted because he committed a crime, while they argue the president has not. Slotkin was heckled by constituents during a town hall in October for her impeachment defense, and said Wednesday that "the phones are ringing off the hook" from people on both sides of the issue. The Republican-led chamber is unlikely to vote to find the president guilty and remove him from office. If the charges are approved, they would be sent to the Senate for a trial.

"Trump will be the first president to be impeached who has the possibility of being elected to a second term and so the 2020 election is going to be hanging over the entire Senate proceeding", Whittington told Al Jazeera.

Mr Trump has indicated he would like to see witnesses called such as Joe Biden and his son, Hunter, who worked for a Ukrainian gas firm that the United States president wanted investigated.