U.S. lawmakers clash over impeachment charges against Trump

Friday, 13 Dec, 2019

The committee debate follows the Democratic introduction of two articles of impeachment against the President, charging him with abuse of power for pressuring Ukraine to investigate his political rivals while withholding U.S. security aid and a White House meeting, and obstruction of Congress for refusing to cooperate in any manner with the impeachment inquiry into his conduct.

The prime-time hearing of the 41-member panel featured three representatives from Georgia.

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.

Seeking that change "simply shows the, frankly, absurdity of where we're at", Collins said. "This is not new".

As the back-and-forth began in committee, the panel's top Republican Doug Collins branded the proceedings a "farce of substance", and seized on Nadler's legalistic effort to tweak the resolution so that the names Donald J. Trump and Donald John Trump would be the same.

The looming House vote sets in motion a process in a divided Congress that is politically risky for both Democrats and Republicans ahead of national elections in 2020.

Thursday's debate was free-wheeling, as any committee member can offer an amendment to the impeachment articles and every lawmaker can speak up to debate it.

"This is the articles that we wrote after all of these hearings and all these grand pronouncements and all these thoughts of crimes in plain sight?" "They have to say abuse of power because they have no evidence for bribery or treason", he said. With no real dates on "this is the abuse"? And they say his dealings with Ukraine have benefited its aggressive neighbor Russian Federation, not the USA, and he must be prevented from "corrupting" US elections again and cheating his way to a second term next year.

Conservative firebrand Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, said during the markup Wednesday night that the effort by Democrats to impeach Trump is really about how they "never accepted the will of the American people". "I don't like a lot of the behavior that he engages in, myself", she said, "and yet we are talking about one of the most serious things that you can do as a member of Congress besides vote for war".

Trump has denied wrongdoing and condemned the impeachment inquiry as a hoax.

But impeachment would mar his record as president and could affect his reelection chances in November 2020. Almost two-thirds said they could still change their mind about candidates.

"The facts are clear", he said. "And when the President demands that a foreign government investigate his domestic political rivals, he corrupts our elections". Trump has said he wants a full trial that could turn the tables on Democrats by demanding testimony from Biden and others.

"To me, the thought that elections could be undermined is not theoretical", Johnson said.

"Forget about President Trump". The campaign has $93 million in the bank and a goal of 2 million volunteers in the 17 states that will decide the election. "And he got caught".

Cautioning against the "dangers" that a Trump impeachment would present, Zaino, a professor of political science and global studies at Iona College, said the historic vote would have an impact not just on the current administration, but on future US presidents as well. She shared the story of her son, Jordan Davis, being murdered to highlight that her mission in D.C. was meant to be focused on gun violence. Democrats say that behaviour by Mr Trump constitutes obstruction of Congress.

"The President committed the highest crime against the Constitution by abusing his office", said Rep. Eric Swalwell, a California Democrat. "And for that I must vote my conscience. American families are the heart, soul and backbone of our nation".

A full vote in the House of Representatives is expected to be held next week, just days before Christmas. The Republican-controlled Senate would start a trial in 2020.