US House in Donald Trump ouster vote

Thursday, December 19th, 2019 00:00 |
Protests in part of a national impeachment rally, at the Federal Building in San Francisco, California, yesterday. Photo/AFP

Washington, Wednesday

Donald Trump is set to become the third US president in history to be impeached by the House of Representatives.

Democratic lawmakers were on Wednesday expected to approve two c against the Republican president.

Trump is scheduled to face trial in the Senate next month, but that chamber is controlled by members of his party and it is unlikely to vote that he should be removed from office.

The president has called the process an “attempted coup” and a “witch hunt”.

In a six-page letter on the eve of the vote, Trump argued he had been denied his rights “from the beginning of this impeachment scam”.

He has blocked top aides from testifying before lawmakers in the House and declined an invitation to appear himself.

On Tuesday, Democratic Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi announced the vote on both charges.

Pelosi wrote to colleagues that impeachment is “one of the most solemn powers granted to us by the Constitution”, and called it a “very prayerful moment in our nation’s history”.

Members of the House will meet from 09:00 local time (14:00 GMT) on Wednesday. Votes on both articles of impeachment are expected between 18:30 and 19:30.

As the House prepares to vote, President Trump will fly to Michigan for a “Merry Christmas” rally along with Vice-President Mike Pence.

Two charges

After hours of debate, the Democratic-controlled House Judiciary Committee approved two charges against Trump last week.

The first is abuse of power. It accuses the president of trying to pressure Ukraine to smear his political rival, Democratic presidential contender Joe Biden.

Trump and his conservative allies have alleged without evidence that while he was US vice-president Joe Biden encouraged Ukraine to fire its top prosecutor in order to stop him investigating a Ukrainian gas company that employed his son, Hunter Biden, as a board member.

Democrats say Trump dangled $400 million (Sh40 billion) of US military aid and the prospect of a White House meeting for Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky as bargaining chips to prod the US ally into announcing a corruption inquiry into the Bidens.

The second charge is obstructing Congress. Trump is accused of failing to co-operate with the House impeachment investigation.

The president has denied withholding US aid to benefit himself politically and maintains it was appropriate to ask Ukraine to look into alleged corruption. -BBC

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