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US lawmakers vote to formalize Trump impeachment probe

TRUMP IMPEACHMENT (UPDATES TEXT, ADDS PHOTOS) | 31 de octubre de 2019

(Update 1: adds details, reaction from White House, background)

Washington, Oct 31 (efe-epa).- The Democratic-controlled US House of Representatives on Thursday approved a resolution formalizing the inquiry into the impeachment of President Donald Trump.

All but two Democrats in the 435-seat House voted in favor of the motion, which lays down procedures and protocols for conducting the investigation.

Trump reacted immediately by firing off a tweet in which he denounced what he has repeatedly called "The Greatest Witch Hunt In American History!"

Despite the fact that the resolution gives Trump "rules are fairer than anything that have gone before in terms of an impeachment proceeding," according to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham claimed that the process was an "unhinged obsession" with impeaching the president.

The resolution authorizes the House Intelligence Committee to make its impeachment hearings public and to prepare a report with the aim of allowing the Judicial Committee to decide if it will draft articles of impeachment - that is, any charges the House may bring against the president - that will be deliberated in the Senate, where the Republicans hold a narrow majority.

In addition, the resolution allows Trump's attorneys to participate in the hearings and for the Republicans to call witnesses and request documents, although to do that the consent of a majority of lawmakers would be necessary, a situation that could create more obstacles.

Pelosi said before the House vote on the resolution that the measure ensures that there will transparency in the impeachment proceedings, and - in urging lawmakers to vote for the resolution - she said that doing so would "protect the Constitution of the United States. What is at stake in all of this is nothing less than our democracy."

However, Republicans insisted that the process established for the impeachment inquiry favors the interests of Democrats and thus none of them voted for the measure, while two Democrats - both of them from districts that Trump won in 2016 - voted against it.

Grisham said that "The Democrats want to render a verdict without giving the Administration a chance to mount a defense. That is unfair, unconstitutional and fundamentally un-American."

It is expected that, now that the impeachment inquiry has been formalized and a significant amount of apparently damning evidence agzainst the president has been assembled, with - by all accounts - more to come as more witnesses testify before Congress, the House will have no problem assembling the votes to approve actually impeaching Trump, but that "trial" will be held in the Senate, and there does not currently appear to be sufficient support among GOP lawmakers there to remove him from office.

The impeachment inquiry focuses on the allegation that Trump used the power of his office to pressure the government of Ukraine to mount an investigation of the family of former Vice President Joe Biden, a Democratic presidential hopeful and the president's potential rival in the 2020 elections.

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