USA lawmakers begin debate over impeachment articles

Grant Boone
December 12, 2019

Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives moved closer on Wednesday to impeaching President Donald Trump as a key House committee began debating formal articles of impeachment that are expected to be brought to the House floor next week.

Democrat leaders have gone full steam ahead on impeachment, announcing two articles of impeachment - abuse of power and obstruction of Congress - against Trump on Tuesday.

In the formal articles announced Tuesday, the Democrats said Trump enlisted a foreign power in "corrupting" the US election process and endangered national security by asking Ukraine to investigate his political rivals, including Biden, while withholding USA military aid as leverage.

Democrats and Republicans used the otherwise procedural meeting to deliver sharp, poignant and, at times, personal arguments for and against impeachment. Both sides appealed to Americans' sense of history - Democrats describing a strong sense of duty to stop what one called the president's "constitutional crime spree" and Republicans decrying the "hot garbage" impeachment and what it means for the future of the country. The committee's deliberations will precede a vote likely to send the articles to the full House, where a vote is expected next week.

The new year, of course, will bring a new debate, a new setting and a decidedly different balance of power, as an impeachment trial in the Republican-dominated Senate will nearly certainly acquit the president and bring this latest chapter of Trump vs. America to a close.

Trump faces becoming only the third president in USA history to be impeached and placed on trial in the Senate.

Rep. David Cicilline, D-R.I., later turned to Republicans, and said, "Wake up".

The House of Representatives votes largely along party lines to formalize its impeachment investigation into Trump, taking one of the most significant steps in the process.

Why Is Abuse of Power an Impeachable Offense?

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"It's just generic vague statements", Collins said. "They don't like the president's supporters, and they dislike us so much they're willing to weaponise the government".

Trump has maintained that he did nothing wrong and that Democrats are trying to undo his victory in the 2016 election.

Democrats are not expected to pick up the 20 Republican votes they need at a minimum in the Senate to drive Trump from office with a two-thirds super majority. He said that the articles of impeachment don't allege that any crimes like bribery, treason or extortion were committed by the president.

Doug Collins, the senior Republican on the committee, argued that Democrats have been seeking to impeach Trump ever since he came into office in January 2017, and have no clear case beyond "abuse of power". "They can vote very easily, even though majority, many of them, don't believe they should do it", Trump tells reporters at the White House.

"I think as an American the best thing we can do is deep-six this thing", a staunch Trump ally, Senator Lindsey Graham, told reporters on Wednesday.

"The power to impeach is not to punish a president".

Like the House proceedings that led to the issuing of articles of impeachment, it will be an ugly, divisive, partisan exercise.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Tuesday that he would be "totally surprised" if there were the necessary 67 votes in the chamber to convict Trump, and signaled options for a swift trial. He said no decision had been made about whether to call witnesses.

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