Impeachment move exercise of constitutional right: Pelosi - GulfToday

Impeachment move exercise of constitutional right: Pelosi


A busy street near the White House in Washington on Wednesday. Associated Press

The US House pressed toward its historic votes to impeach President Donald Trump on Wednesday, arguing over the charges he faces and the legitimacy of the probe that brought Congress and the day that was to leave a lasting mark on his tenure at the White House.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who arrived at the back of the chamber as the day long session was underway, has the Democratic votes needed to make Trump just the third US president to be impeached, exercising what she called “one of the most solemn powers granted to us by the Constitution.”

“This is a democracy defining moment,”said Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Mass., the chairman of the Rules Committee, as the proceedings began. “This is about protecting our democracy.”

Democrats overwhelmingly approved the rules for the debate, 228-197, with just two defections from Pelosi’s ranks, an early indication of how the votes will eventually fall on the articles of impeachment.

No Republicans supported the procedural vote, but Democrats picked up backing from Justin Amash, the Michigan conservative, who left the GOP this year to become an independent over his support for impeachment.

Trump tweeted his outrage: “Can you believe that I will be impeached today by the Radical Left, Do Nothing Democrats, AND I DID NOTHING WRONG! A terrible thing.”

The rare undertaking to impeach a president, set to unfold over more than six hours of debate, has split the lawmakers in Congress much the way Americans have different views of Trump’s unusual presidency and the articles of impeachment against him. Final votes were expected late in the evening.

According to a tally compiled by media, Trump was on track to be formally charged by a House majority. No Republicans were expected to vote for impeachment as the president’s party stands firmly with Trump, and the Senate, where the GOP has the majority, is expected to acquit him in a trial next year.

“Very sadly, the facts have made clear that the President abused his power for his own personal, political benefit and that he obstructed Congress,” Pelosi wrote to colleagues ahead of the vote.

“In America, no one is above the law.”

As debate was underway, one Democrat, Joe Kennedy III of Massachusetts, read a letter to his young children explaining his vote to impeach.

“This is a moment you will read about in your history books,” he told them.

Republican Tom Cole of Oklahoma, called it “a very sad day” with the partisan voting to come.

“Democrats have been searching for a reason to impeach President Trump since the day he was elected,” he said.

As the House gavelled the start, the House chaplain, the Pat Conroy, opened the session with morning prayer.

“Help them, and help us all,” he said.

As soon as the session opened, Republicans tried, and failed, to halt what one called the “unfair, rigged” process.

The president, who was expected to depart later for a rally in the election battleground state of Michigan, fired off a furious letter to Pelosi on Tuesday d enouncing the “vicious crusade” against him but acknowledging he was powerless to stop the expected outcome.

Trump implores Americans to “read the transcript,” but the facts of his July phone call with the Ukraine president were largely confirmed by witnesses in the impeachment inquiry. Trump asked Volodymyr Zelenskiy to investigate Democrats and his 2020 political rival Joe Biden.

At the time, the newly elected Ukraine leader was hoping for a coveted White House visit to showcase his standing with the US, his country’s most important ally. He was also counting on nearly $400 million in military aid as his country confronts a hostile neighbor, Russia.

The question for lawmakers, and Americans, is whether those actions, and the White House’s block on officials testifying for the House investigation, are impeachable offenses.

Republicans swiftly started offering the first of several procedural motions expected during the day to halt or delay the proceedings.

So we can stop wasting America’s time on impeachment, I move that the House do now adjourn,” said Andy Biggs, the chairman of the conservative House Freedom Caucus. It was defeated on a party-line vote.

Associated Press

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