The United States House Committee on Friday approved two articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.
The articles would go to the full House for a vote next week after this approval.
The House Judiciary Committee voted 23-17 along party lines to approve an article of impeachment charging Trump with abusing the power of his office to pressure Ukraine to investigate a possible rival in the 2020 presidential election, Democrat Joe Biden.
The panel also backed a second article by the same margin charging Trump with obstructing Congress’ investigation of the scandal.
With the democrats also dominating the House of Representatives, it is almost certain the vote next week will result into Trump, becoming the third U.S. president in history to be impeached.
However, it is expected that the Senate, dominated by the the Republicans is unlikely to vote to find the president guilty and remove him from office.
In raucous hearings on Thursday, Republicans defended Trump and accused Democrats of a politically motivated farce, while Democrats accused the president of endangering the U.S. Constitution, jeopardizing national security and undermining the integrity of the 2020 election by pressuring Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in a July phone call to investigate Biden.
The abuse of power charge also accuses Trump of freezing nearly $400 million in U.S. security aid to Ukraine and offering a possible White House meeting to Zelensky to get him to publicly announce the investigations of Biden and his son Hunter, who was on the board of a Ukrainian gas company.
Trump also asked Ukraine to investigate a debunked theory that Ukraine, not Russia, interfered in the 2016 U.S. election.
The obstruction charge accuses the president of impeding the House’s efforts to investigate the scandal by instructing current and former members of his administration not to cooperate with the impeachment inquiry.
Trump and Republicans say the president did nothing improper in his call with Zelenskiy, and that there is no direct evidence he withheld aid or a White House meeting in exchange for a favor.
Trump would be the third U.S. president to be impeached. Democrat Bill Clinton was impeached in 1998 for perjury for lying about a sexual relationship with a White House intern, but he was acquitted in the Senate. Democrat President Andrew Johnson was impeached in 1868 but not convicted in the Senate.
Trump is running for re-election in 2020, a contest expected to be a bitter and partisan battle with a Democratic nominee who will be chosen next year. Biden, a former vice president, is among the leading Democratic contenders.
The impeachment inquiry was launched in September after a whistleblower complaint about the July 25 call between Trump and Ukraine’s Zelensky.
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