Outlining impeachment case, Dems say Trump betrayed nation

WASHINGTON (AP) — Bolstering its case for impeaching United States (US) President Donald Trump, a House panel released a lengthy report yesterday detailing its rationale for the charges and accusing Trump of betraying the nation for his own political gain.

Trump faces two articles of impeachment by House Democrats: abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. They point to Trump pressuring Ukraine to investigate 2020 political rival Joe Biden while withholding as leverage military aid the country relies to counter Russia as well as his efforts to block the House investigation.

The House will vote today on the impeachment articles approved last week by the House Judiciary panel. The vote is all but certain to result in Trump’s impeachment, though he’s expected to be acquitted in a Senate trial.

The House Judiciary Committee detailed its case against the nation’s 45th president in a 650-page report released just after midnight. It said Trump “betrayed the nation by abusing his high office to enlist a foreign power in corrupting democratic elections”.

The Judiciary panel summarised the evidence for impeachment compiled by the House intelligence committee, and said Trump “has demonstrated he will remain a threat to national security and the Constitution if allowed to remain in office”.

The US Capitol in Washington is shrouded in mist. PHOTO: AP

Trump, by refusing to cooperate with the House impeachment inquiry, violated the Constitution’s system of checks and balances, the report said.

Only the fourth US president to be charged in impeachment proceedings, Trump has insisted he has done nothing wrong. But already attention is turning to the Senate trial, where the Republicans are expected to acquit Trump in January.

“There ought to be a fair trial where the whole truth comes out,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer told reporters on Sunday in New York. “And I’m going to work to get that done.”

The top Senate Democrat called for new evidence and testimony from former national security adviser John Bolton, acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney and two others as part of a detailed proposal outlined in a letter on Sunday to Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to spur negotiations with the GOP.

“This trial must be one that is fair, that considers all of the relevant facts,” Schumer wrote. “The trial must be one that not only hears all of the evidence and adjudicates the case fairly; it must also pass the fairness test with the American people.”

Trump has expressed interest in a robust trial that would not only clear him of the charges in the Senate but also vindicate him, but his desire for a lengthy proceeding is something Senate Republicans are hoping to avoid.

A spokesman for McConnell said the two Senate leaders are expected to meet. They are expected to discuss how to conduct the trial, much as the Democrats and Republicans did during Bill Clinton’s impeachment two decades ago.

“Leader McConnell has made it clear he plans to meet with Leader Schumer to discuss the contours of a trial soon,” McConnell spokesman Doug Andres said. “That timeline has not changed.”

The witness list will be key to the proceedings.

Despite Republican control in the Senate, McConnell’s slim 53-47 majority limits his ability to steer the impeachment trial. It takes 51 votes to approve most motions in the proceedings, even to set the rules, which means the leader can only afford to lose two Republican senators and still pass his preferred options.

Some Republican senators may feel pressure from Democrats to call additional witnesses or expand the proceedings, especially those up for reelection next year in swing states where voters are split in their views of Trump.