House likely to im­peach Trump

Pres­i­dent at­tacks Dems for im­peach­ment fo­cus in let­ter to Pelosi

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

WASHINGTON — Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump is on track to be im­peached by the House with the ma­jor­ity in fa­vor ahead of vot­ing, ac­cord­ing to a tally com­piled by The As­so­ci­ated Press.

No Repub­li­cans have in­di­cated they will sup­port im­peach­ment, set­ting up a party-line vote car­ried by Democrats.

One by one, cen­trist Democrats, in­clud­ing many fresh­man law­mak­ers who risk re­elec­tion in dis­tricts where the pres­i­dent is pop­u­lar, an­nounced this week that they would sup­port the ar­ti­cles of im­peach­ment.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is all but cer­tain to have the num­bers as de­bate be­gins Wednesday on the two ar­ti­cles of im­peach­ment that charge Trump with abuse of power and ob­struc­tion of Congress. The first ar­ti­cle on abuse of power has a ma­jor­ity.

Trump is an­grily ob­ject­ing to the im­peach­ment charges, ac­cus­ing Democrats of “per­ver­sion of jus­tice and abuse of power” in their ef­fort to re­move him from of­fice.

In a fiery let­ter Tues­day to Pelosi on the eve of his ex­pected im­peach­ment, Trump main­tained that he did noth­ing wrong in seek­ing for­eign in­ves­ti­ga­tion of po­lit­i­cal ri­vals, and he at­tacked Democrats for fo­cus­ing on im­peach­ment rather than other is­sues.

Trump also re­peated his ob­jec­tions to the process of the House in­quiry, claim­ing “more due process was af­forded to those ac­cused in the Salem Witch Tri­als.”

Trump said he doesn’t be­lieve

his let­ter will change any­thing, but he is reg­is­ter­ing his ob­jec­tions “for the pur­pose of his­tory.”

Mean­while at the Capi­tol, House Democrats and Repub­li­cans sparred over the rules of de­bate for Wednesday’s his­toric votes on im­peach­ing Trump, dis­patch­ing the lofty rhetoric of con­sti­tu­tional duty for the rugged pol­i­tics of the House ac­tion and Se­nate trial that is ex­pected to fol­low.

The Demo­cratic-ma­jor­ity House Rules Com­mit­tee met through the day Tues­day, with law­mak­ers ar­gu­ing over the pa­ram­e­ters for Wednesday’s de­bate, which is ex­pected to cul­mi­nate in votes to make Trump the third pres­i­dent to be im­peached in Amer­i­can his­tory.

“It’s un­for­tu­nate that we have to be here to­day, but the ac­tions of the pres­i­dent of the United States make that nec­es­sary,” said Chair­man Jim McGovern, DMass. “The ev­i­dence is as clear as it is over­whelm­ing.”

He said the pres­i­dent “jeop­ar­dized our na­tional se­cu­rity and ... un­der­mined our democ­racy.”

He added: “Ev­ery day we let Pres­i­dent Trump act like the law doesn’t ap­ply to him, we move a lit­tle closer” to rule by dic­ta­tors.

Repub­li­cans dis­agreed. The top com­mit­tee Repub­li­can, Rep. Tom Cole of Oklahoma, said the split view among Amer­i­cans over im­peach­ment should be rea­son enough not to pro­ceed with the rare ac­tion. “When half of Amer­i­cans are telling you what you are do­ing is wrong, you should lis­ten,” he said.

House Democrats are plan­ning Wednesday to launch the de­bate and, likely, votes to im­peach Trump, for­mally ac­cus­ing him of abus­ing his power as pres­i­dent in deal­ing with Ukraine to help him­self po­lit­i­cally and then ob­struct­ing Congress by block­ing the later in­ves­ti­ga­tion. Votes will fol­low. “We must im­peach this pres­i­dent,” said a state­ment from Demo­cratic Rep. Chrissy Houla­han of Penn­syl­va­nia, an Air Force vet­eran who is among a group of newly-elected former na­tional se­cu­rity of­fi­cials call­ing for im­peach­ment. “I grieve for our na­tion. But I can­not let his­tory mark the be­hav­ior of our Pres­i­dent as any­thing other than an un­ac­cept­able vi­o­la­tion of his oath of of­fice.”

Pelosi, who warned against pur­su­ing a strictly par­ti­san im­peach­ment, is now all but cer­tain to have the num­bers as vot­ing be­gins.

As im­peach­ment ap­pears set in the House, at­ten­tion is shift­ing to the Se­nate which, un­der the

Con­sti­tu­tion, is re­quired to hold a trial on the charges.

It is ex­pected to be­gin in Jan­uary.

Hop­ing to dis­patch with lengthy pro­ceed­ings, Se­nate Ma­jor­ity Leader Mitch McCon­nell is re­ject­ing the Democrats’ push for fresh im­peach­ment tes­ti­mony in a last-ditch plea for the House to “turn back from the cliff” of Wednesday’s ex­pected vote.

McCon­nell’s re­marks Tues­day ef­fec­tively slapped the door shut on ne­go­ti­a­tions for a deal pro­posed by the Demo­cratic leader, Sen. Chuck Schumer, who wants to call top White House of­fi­cials for the Se­nate trial, which is set to start next year if the House im­peaches Trump.

“If House Democrats’ case is this de­fi­cient, this thin, the an­swer is not for the judge and jury to cure it here in the Se­nate,” McCon­nell said. “The an­swer is that the House should not im­peach on this ba­sis in the first place.”

McCon­nell and most GOP sen­a­tors pre­fer a swift trial. Se­nate Democrats want to hear from John Bolton, Mick Mul­vaney and oth­ers as the pro­ceed­ings push to the cham­ber for the trial.

“Why is the leader, why is the pres­i­dent so afraid to have these wit­nesses come tes­tify?” asked Schumer from the Se­nate floor. “They cer­tainly ought to be heard.”


House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., is all but cer­tain to have the num­bers to im­peach Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump.


Fog set­tles Tues­day over the Capi­tol, where the House is pre­par­ing to vote Wednesday on ar­ti­cles of im­peach­ment.

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