IMPEACHMEN­T AD­VANCES IN HOUSE

Party line vote moves ar­ti­cles to full cham­ber

Orlando Sentinel - - FRONT PAGE - By Lisa Mascaro and Mary Clare Jalonick

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.

AN­DREW HARNIK/AP

“To­day is a solemn and sad day,” said Rep. Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., as ar­ti­cles of impeachmen­t were ap­proved by his panel.

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