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  • U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) announces the House of Representatives managers for the Senate impeachment trial of U.S. President Donald Trump in Washington, U.S., Jan. 15, 2020.

    U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) announces the House of Representatives managers for the Senate impeachment trial of U.S. President Donald Trump in Washington, U.S., Jan. 15, 2020. | Photo: Reuters

Published 15 January 2020
Opinion

With 228 votes in favor over 193 against, the lawmakers will task the Republican-led upper chamber to judge Trump on charges of abuse of power and of obstruction of Congress.

The United States Democratic-led House of Representatives approved Wednesday to send two formal charges against President Donald Trump to the Senate, clearing the way for only the third impeachment trial of a U.S. president to begin next week.

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With 228 votes in favor over 193 against, the lawmakers will task the Republican-led upper chamber to judge Trump on charges of abuse of power over allegedly pressuring Ukraine to investigate Democratic presidential hopeful Joe Biden and of obstruction of Congress for blocking testimony and documents sought by Democratic lawmakers.

The vote, which also approved a team of seven Democratic lawmakers named by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to serve as prosecutors in the trial, was largely along party lines.

However, the impeachment in itself does not remove the president immediately from office; as it is similar to an indictment thus it is essentially the statement of charges against the chief executive.

The Senate, controlled by Republicans,  will either convict or acquit Trump. Since a vote of two-thirds is necessary for conviction, the 100-seat Senate is expected to acquit him, keeping the president in office.

On Jan. 7 Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced he had enough support from his fellow Republicans to set the rules for Trump’s impeachment trial, without a commitment to hear from additional witnesses, including former National Security Adviser John Bolton.

McConnell has previously said there is “no chance” the Senate will convict and remove Trump and that he would work in “total coordination” with the White House and Trump’s defense team.

“We’ve got the votes necessary to start the trial using the Clinton model, which is good news,” Senator Lindsey Graham said, referring to an arrangement made during the 1999 impeachment trial of then-President Bill Clinton after Republicans and Democrats were similarly deadlocked over the question of witness testimony.

Graham said at least 51 of the 53 Republicans in the Senate were backing that plan.

The Third Impeachment Trial of a U.S. President

The proceedings began on Sept. 24 as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced a formal inquiry, resulting from a whistleblower’s allegations that Trump abused his power by pressuring Ukraine to investigate Biden.

The whistleblower from within the U.S. intelligence community ledged a complaint with an internal watchdog about Trump’s conversation with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, resulting in the Ukraine scandal. 

The July 25 call, which was later released by the White House, confirmed that the U.S. president asked Zelenskiy to investigate his political rival in coordination with the U.S. attorney general and Trump’s personal lawyer, which in turn occurred after Trump had ordered a freeze of nearly US$400 million in U.S. aid to Ukraine, which the administration only later released.

Federal election law prohibits candidates from accepting foreign help in an election.

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