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Committee postpones vote on impeachment charges against Trump to Friday

TRUMP IMPEACHMENT (ADDS TEXT, VIDEO) | 12 de diciembre de 2019

Washington DC, Dec 12 (efe-epa).- The United States' House Judiciary Committee on Thursday postponed the vote on the political charges against President Donald Trump until the next morning, thus delaying the last step necessary before the full body proceeds with an impeachment vote.

Committee chairman Jerry Nadler (NY-10th) of the Democratic Party announced his decision at 10 pm following a more than 14-hour-long meeting that turned into a deeply-partisan debate led by the Republican congressmen.

Nadler said the committee will meet again at 10 am on Friday.

“It has been a long two days of consideration of these articles and it is now very late at night. I want the members on both sides of the aisle to think about what has happened over these last two days and to search their consciences before we cast our final votes,” Nadler said.

The decision to suspend the session was received with anger by Republicans: Rep. Louie Gohmert (TX-1st) called Nadler’s move "Stalin-like" and Doug Collins (GA-9th) criticized it for altering legislators' agendas without consensus.

Thursday's hearing was marked by presentations and endless debate on amendments by Republican congressmen to modify the draft of the two articles of impeachment against Trump: abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

Although the Democrats had the majority power to stop the Republicans' delaying strategy and force the vote, they chose to allow it.

However, despite the GOP's efforts – which consisted largely of using the committee proceedings as a forum to denounce the impeachment process and to attempt to erode the Democrats' case against the president – the committee voted 23-17 along party lines to reject the amendment that would have removed the abuse of power charge.

In September, Democrats announced the opening of an impeachment inquiry into Trump's actions after an anonymous whistleblower revealed to US intelligence services the content of a July telephone call between the president and his Ukrainian counterpart, Volodymyr Zelensky.

In that call, Trump asked Kiev to launch an investigation of his political rival, former Vice President Joe Biden, and his son Hunter for alleged corruption in the East European country, a claim for which no evidence has yet been shown to exist and which Ukrainian officials have rejected.

If the impeachment articles are approved in the Judiciary Committee, the case will move to the full House, which will have to vote on an as yet unspecified date on whether or not to hold an impeachment trial of Trump in the Senate.

If the articles are passed in the lower house, Trump will become the fourth president in US history to face this constitutional process.

The first, Andrew Johnson in 1868, and the third, Bill Clinton in 1998, were both acquitted by the Senate, while the second, Richard Nixon, resigned in 1974 before facing the final House vote.

Republicans have a 53-47 majority in the Senate and Democrats will have a difficult time getting Trump convicted and removed from office, as they need two-thirds of the upper house (67 senators with a full quorum) to oust the president. EFE-EPA

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Republicans try, fail to eliminate abuse of power charge against Trump

Washington, Dec 12 (efe-epa).- The Republican minority on the House Judiciary Committee on Thursday tried - but failed - to eliminate the "abuse of power" accusation against President Donald Trump in the debate before the vote on the articles of impeachment against him for exerting improper pressure on Ukraine.

The impeachment charges will probably be easily approved by the committee, which has an overwhelming Democratic majority, and then the impeachment case will be ready for a vote by the full House, which is also controlled by the Democrats.

During the two-hour debate in committee on that amendment, GOP legislators, ardent supporters of Trump, argued vehemently against including the abuse of power article in the two-article impeachment case against the president.

However, despite their efforts - which consisted largely of using the committee proceedings as a forum to denounce the impeachment process and to attempt to erode the Democrats' case against the president - the committee voted 23-17 along party lines to reject the amendment that would have removed the abuse of power charge.

Republican lawmaker Jim Jordan of Ohio presented the amendment to remove the abuse of power charge claiming that it "ignores the truth."

Lawmakers then launched into a bitter debate on the matter, which conservatives on the committee took as an opportunity to denounce a process that they claim is unfair to Trump and to try to undermine the Democrats' case.

"It's obvious to all of the American public that this is a railroad job," said Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner of Wisconsin in support of Jordan's amendment.

"The facts speak for themselves. There was no impeachable offense here," he added.

Meanwhile, Democrat Sheila Jackson Lee insisted that "the president abused his power and is a continuing threat, not only to democracy but also to our security."

The Republicans plan to put forward other amendments to the impeachment articles, but they are all virtually certain to be rejected by the committee in unwavering party-line votes.

In September, Democrats announced the opening of an impeachment inquiry into Trump's actions after an anonymous whistleblower revealed to US intelligence services the content of a July telephone call between the president and his Ukrainian counterpart, Volodymyr Zeleneky.

In that call, Trump asked Kyiv to launch an investigation of his political rival, former Vice President Joe Biden, and his son Hunter for alleged corruption in the East European country, a claim for which no evidence has yet been shown to exist and which Ukrainian officials have rejected.

During both the closed-door and public hearings in which assorted witnesses testified before several House committees, lawmakers heard details about how Trump conditioned already-approved US military aid and a White House visit for Zelensky to the launching of the probe of the Bidens' activities.

If the impeachment articles are approved in the Judiciary Committee, which in all likelihood will be the result, the case will move to the full House, which will have to vote on an as yet unspecified date on whether or not to hold an impeachment trial of Trump in the US Senate.

Thanks to the Democratic majority in the House - where they hold 235 seats versus 198 for the Republicans - it is expected that the impeachment case will be handed to the Senate, where the chances of the president's conviction are significantly lower, given that a two-thirds majority of lawmakers would be required to remove him from office and the GOP dominates the chamber with 53 of the 100 seats.

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