IMPEACHMENT ADVANCES IN HOUSE
Party line vote moves articles to full chamber
WASHINGTON — Democrats propelled President Donald Trump’s impeachment toward a historic vote by the full U.S. House as the Judiciary Committee on Friday approved charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.
The partisan split in the committee vote — 23 Democrats to 17 Republicans — reflects the atmosphere in Congress. The Democratic-majority House is expected to approve the two articles of impeachment against Trump next week before lawmakers depart for the holidays, but the Republicancontrolled Senate is likely to acquit him after a January trial.
Trump is accused, in the first article, of abusing his presidential power by asking Ukraine to investigate his 2020 rival Joe Biden while holding military aid as leverage, and, in the second, of obstructing Congress by blocking the House’s efforts to probe his actions.
“Today is a solemn and sad day,” Chairman Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., told reporters after the session, marking the third time in U.S. history the panel has voted to recommend impeaching a president.
At the White House after the votes, Trump denounced the in
quiry and actions against him, using the terms he has relied on for months. He referred to the impeachment effort four times as a hoax, twice as a sham and once each as a scam, a witch hunt and a disgrace. He described his actions as perfect three times and said four times he did nothing wrong.
When he had asked Ukraine to “do us a favor” in the July phone call that sparked the impeachment inquiry, he said, the “us” referred to the U.S., not a political favor for himself.
Voting was swift and solemn Friday, with none of the fiery speeches and weighty nods to history that defined the previous two days of debate, including 14 hours that stretched nearly to midnight Thursday. Nadler abruptly halted that rancorous session so voting could be held in daylight, for all Americans to see.
Nadler, who had said he wanted lawmakers to “search their consciences” before casting their votes, gaveled in the landmark but brief morning session at the Capitol. Lawmakers responded “aye” or “yes” for the Democrats, simply “no” for the Republicans. There was no new debate.
Trump is only the fourth U.S. president to face impeachment proceedings and the first to be running for reelection at the same time. Next week’s House votes pose potentially serious political consequences for both parties ahead of the 2020 elections, with Americans deeply divided over whether the president indeed conducted impeachable acts and whether it should be up to Congress, or the voters, to decide whether he should remain in office.
Rep. Debbie Lesko, RAriz., defended the president against what she called “unfair, rigged’’ proceedings. “They had no proof, no evidence, no crime, but they went ahead anyway and they’re tearing the country apart,” she said.
Democrats countered they had no choice but to protect the 2020 election from further Trump outreach for foreign interference.
The president has refused to participate in the proceedings and instructed U.S. officials not to as well, tweeting criticisms from the sidelines and mocking the charges against him in the House’s nine-page resolution as “impeachment light.” But House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the president was wrong and the case against him was deeply grounded.
“Today is a solemn and sad day,” said Rep. Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., as articles of impeachment were approved by his panel.