In the latest push to remove President Donald Trump from office, a US House of Representatives panel approved two charges of impeachment against Trump. This now sets the stage for a full House vote which holds a clear majority of the opposition Democratic Party. The charges against President Trump include abuse of power and obstructing Congress, the legislative body of the US government.
In the Saturday vote, Democrats and Republicans in the House Judiciary Committee voted along strict party lines, 23 to 17. The move put Trump on track to become only the third US president ever to be impeached. Before him, President Bill Clinton of the Democratic Party was impeached in December 1998.
We are moving forward with Articles of Impeachment to urgently respond to the President’s actions, which are an imminent threat and a clear and present danger to our national security and our democracy.— House Judiciary Dems (@HouseJudiciary) December 13, 2019
No one is above the law.
Not even the President. #DefendOurDemocracy pic.twitter.com/YHG2bRvdah
"Today is a solemn and sad day," committee chairman Jerry Nadler said after the votes which occurred with surprising speed following a caustic, 14-hour debate the previous day. The charges are related to President Donald Trump's pressuring of Ukraine to launch investigations into a Democratic rival, and his blanket refusal to cooperate with any aspect of the inquiry. The articles of impeachment will now be considered by the full House, which is expected to vote next week to impeach Trump. "The House will act expeditiously," Nadler said in brief remarks.
When the House impeaches the President, the US Senate (upper house of Congress) will hold a trial where the Republican majority is expected to protect the president by voting against conviction and removal. Democrats have 47 seats in the 100-seat Senate while Republicans hold 53. Senate majority leader Mitch McConnel, a key Trump ally, had shown strong reservations against impeachment and is expected to use his political power to shield any embarrassing result for his Republican Party.
It’s not fair that I’m being Impeached when I’ve done absolutely nothing wrong! The Radical Left, Do Nothing Democrats have become the Party of Hate. They are so bad for our Country!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 14, 2019
Donald Trump has repeatedly labelled the impeachment process as a "witch hunt" and a "hoax" and has tried to project strength by focussing on the US-China trade deal. White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham slammed the Judiciary Committee vote as the "shameful end" to a "desperate charade". "The president looks forward to receiving in the Senate the fair treatment and due process which continues to be disgracefully denied to him by the House," she said.
(With inputs from agencies)