Majority of House supports Trump’s impeachment, according to AP tally | CBC News

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Majority of House supports Trump’s impeachment, according to AP tally | CBC News

U.S. President Donald Trump is on track to be impeached by the House with the majority now in favour ahead of voting, according to a running tally compiled by The Associated Press.

No Republicans have indicated they will support impeachment, setting up a party-line vote carried by Democrats. One by one, centrist Democrats, including many freshman lawmakers who risk re-election in districts where the president is popular, announced this week that they would support the articles of impeachment.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is all but certain to have the numbers as debate begins Wednesday on the two articles of impeachment that charge Trump with abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. The first article on abuse of power now has a majority.

On Tuesday afternoon, Trump fired off a furious letter to Pelosi, denouncing the “crusade” against him but acknowledging that at this point he was unlikely to change any votes.

Meanwhile, U.S. lawmakers sparred Tuesday over the rules of debate for Wednesday’s historic proceedings, as members of the rules committee voted 9-4 along party lines to pass legislation that provides for six hours of debate, with final votes to follow on the charges. 

“It’s unfortunate that we have to be here today, but the president’s actions make it necessary,” said chairman Jim McGovern as he opened the session. “The evidence is as clear as it is overwhelming.”

McGovern said Trump has “jeopardized our national security and … undermined our democracy”

He added: “Every day we let President Trump act like the law doesn’t apply to him, we move a little closer” to rule by dictators.

Republicans disagreed, firmly.

The top committee Republican, Rep. Tom Cole of Oklahoma, said the split among Americans over impeachment should be reason enough not to proceed with the rare action. “When half of Americans are telling you what you are doing is wrong, you should listen,” he said.

House rules committee chair Rep. Jim McGovern speaks during a hearing on the impeachment proceedings against on Capitol Hill on Tuesday. (The Associated Press)

No Republicans are expected to vote to impeach Trump. But one by one Democrats are amassing a majority from their ranks as lawmakers, including many freshmen who could risk re-election in districts where Trump is popular, announced they will join in voting for the two articles.

“We must impeach this president,” said a statement from Democratic Rep. Chrissy Houlahan of Pennsylvania, an Air Force veteran who is among a group of newly elected former national security officials calling for impeachment. “I grieve for our nation. But I cannot let history mark the behaviour of our president as anything other than an unacceptable violation of his oath of office.”

Focus shifts to Senate trial

Pelosi, who warned earlier this year against pursuing a strictly partisan impeachment, nonetheless has the numbers to approve it.

Thus, attention is shifting to the Senate which, under the Constitution, is required to hold a trial on the charges. That trial is expected to begin in January, with the Republican-majority chamber all but sure to acquit Trump.

Hoping to dispatch with lengthy proceedings, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is rejecting the Democrats’ push for fresh impeachment testimony and making a last-ditch plea for the House to “turn back from the cliff” of Wednesday’s expected vote.

McConnell’s remarks Tuesday effectively slapped the door shut on negotiations for a deal proposed by the Democratic leader, Sen. Chuck Schumer, who wants to call top White House officials for the Senate trial.

“If House Democrats’ case is this deficient, this thin, the answer is not for the judge and jury to cure it here in the Senate,” McConnell said. “The answer is that the House should not impeach on this basis in the first place.”

Schumer’s proposal was the first overture in what were expected to be negotiations between the two leaders over the contours of a weeks-long trial. Trump wants a relatively broad, perhaps showy Senate proceeding to not only acquit but vindicate him of the impeachment charges, though he has instructed officials not to appear in the House.

McConnell and most GOP senators prefer a swift trial to move on from impeachment. Many centrist House Democrats have begun to signal that they, too, are ready to vote and move on. Still, Schumer wants to hear from John Bolton, Mick Mulvaney and others as the proceedings push to the chamber for the trial.

“Why is the leader, why is the president so afraid to have these witnesses come testify?” asked Schumer from the Senate floor. “They certainly ought to be heard.”

2 articles of impeachment

Trump faces two articles of impeachment brought by Democrats. They say he abused the power of his office by pressuring Ukraine to investigate Democratic rival Joe Biden ahead of the 2020 election and obstructed Congress by aggressively trying to block the House investigation from its oversight duties as part of the nation’s system of checks and balances.

The president “betrayed the nation by abusing his high office to enlist a foreign power in corrupting democratic elections,” says the 650-page report from the House judiciary committee. He withheld military aid from the ally as leverage, the report says, and “Trump, by such conduct, has demonstrated that he will remain a threat to national security and the Constitution if allowed to remain in office.”

The report says the president then engaged in an unprecedented attempt to block the investigation and “cover up” his misconduct. The report also includes Republican rebuttals.

In addition to the top-line charges, Trump has promoted lawyer Rudy Giuliani’s investigation of Biden and a widely debunked theory that it was actually Ukraine, not Russia, that interfered in the 2016 election, a conspiracy-laden idea that other most other Republicans have actively avoided.

One freshman Democrat, Rep. Jeff Van Drew of New Jersey, saw several staff members resign Monday after he said he would vote against impeachment and indicated he was switching parties to become a Republican. Another Democrat, Rep. Collin Peterson, a Minnesota centrist, had not decided how he will vote, his spokeswoman said.

McConnell is facing criticism for saying he’s taking his “cues” from the White House for the expected trial. Republicans say Schumer acted much the same two decades ago when the Senate prepared to vote on convicted then-president Bill Clinton.

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