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Fri, 12/13/2019 - 20:23
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US: House panel OK's impeachment articles against Trump

WASHINGTON The House Judiciary Committee voted along party lines Friday to approve two articles of impeachment against U.S. President Donald Trump: obstruction of Congress, and abuse of power. The 23-17 votes after two days of debate saw all of the panel's Democrats vote in support as Republicans uniformly opposed the measures, which now go to the full House of Representatives for a vote. "Today is a solemn and sad day," Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler said in brief remarks to reporters after the historic vote. "For the third time in a little over a century-and-a-half the House Judiciary Committee has voted articles of impeach against the president." "The House will act expeditiously," he added. Doug Collins, the highest-ranking Republican, lashed out at the impeachment pursuit, calling it "folly" and charging Democrats with sacrificing "core American tenets of due process, fairness and the presumption of innocence." "Rather than help Americans move into the future with confidence, Democrats are attempting to knee-cap our democracy," he said in a statement. Ahead of the votes, Trump hailed his Republican allies, whom he called "warriors," while continuing to insist that the case against him is baseless. In the highly likely event that at least one of the articles passes the wider chamber the matter would be turned over to the Senate where the president would face the charges in a trial-like setting. The date of the House vote is still unclear, but is expected to take place before Congress adjourns for the Christmas holiday next week. The House's impeachment process is centered on Trump's multiple requests to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to declare criminal investigations into leading Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and his son, Hunter, as well as claims that it was Ukraine, not Russia, who meddled in the 2016 election. Also at issue is the holdup of some $400 million in congressionally appropriated military aid to Ukraine and whether Trump conditioned its release and a possible Oval Office meeting with Zelensky on the Ukrainian president publicly announcing the investigations. The abuse of power article is focused on Trump's requests to Ukraine and the holdup of that aid that was released Sept. 11, while the obstruction article is centered on the president's directive that top officials not cooperate in the impeachment probe. The House had previously voted only twice on articles of impeachment against a sitting president. Presidents Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton were acquitted in Senate trials. Trump now becomes the third president to face impeachment articles in the Senate. Richard Nixon stepped down from office to avoid removal as part of the Watergate scandal.