Democrats unveil new evidence in Trump impeachment debacle

Thursday, January 16th, 2020 00:00 |
US President Donald Trump. Photo/AFP

Washington, Wednesday

Democrats in the US House of Representatives have unveiled new evidence as part of the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump.

On Tuesday, they released a trove of documents relating to the allegation that Trump put pressure on Ukraine to investigate a political rival.

These included text messages and handwritten notes from an associate of Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s lawyer.

The president denies the allegation and has branded the inquiry a “witch hunt”.

Senior Democrats said they would send the fresh evidence—from Ukrainian-American businessman Lev Parnas—to the Senate alongside the formal articles of impeachment.

The House was last evening expected to vote on whether to send these articles to the Senate. As Democrats control the House, the vote was expected to pass meaning the impeachment trial can begin in earnest next week.

Trump was impeached by the House last month, on accusations of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

He denies trying to pressure Ukraine to open an investigation into his would-be Democratic White House challenger Joe Biden.

After a weeks-long standoff over rules and witnesses, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced Tuesday that what will be only the third presidential impeachment trial was now ready to move forward.

Pelosi was expected to sign the articles of impeachment at around 2200 GMT (1am Kenyan time) before they are then ceremoniously transferred from the House and travel through the US capitol’s main hallways before being delivered to the Secretary of the Senate.

Conviction unlikely

That ceremony was to follow an announcement by Pelosi on which Democratic lawmakers would lead the prosecution case against Trump in the Senate, expected to begin next Tuesday.

But his conviction in the Senate is highly unlikely as the president’s Republican Party has a 53-47 majority. A two-thirds majority to approve his guilt is needed if he is to be removed from office at the end of a trial expected to last two weeks.

Pelosi called for a fair trial and demanded the Senate subpoena witnesses and documents from the White House that will be crucial in the trial.

“The American people deserve the truth, and the Constitution demands a trial ... The president and the senators will be held accountable,” she added.

Although the trial itself is unlikely to start until next week, Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts could be sworn in to preside over the process on either Thursday or Friday.

Trump has consistently painted the charges against him as part of a witch-hunt and again took to Twitter on Tuesday evening to decry his impeachment in the House as “the most lopsided & unfair basement hearing in the history of Congress!”

“While we’re creating jobs and killing terrorists, Democrats in Congress are wasting America’s time with demented hoaxes and crazy witch hunts,” he told supporters at a rally in Winconsin. —BBC and AFP

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