Impeachment vote set for Wednesday as Trump rages
People gather in Times Square while participating in a protest in support of U.S. President Donald Trump's potential impeachment on December 17, 2019 in New York, United States. The House of Representatives will be voting on articles of impeachment against President Trump tomorrow in Washington D.C.
Stephanie Keith/Getty Images/AFP
Impeachment vote set for Wednesday as Trump rages
Paul Handley, Sebastian Smith (Agence France-Presse) - December 18, 2019 - 8:48am

WASHINGTON, United States — An enraged US President Donald Trump said he was being subjected to an "attempted coup" and a witch trial as Democrats set a historic impeachment vote for Wednesday.

In an extraordinarily angry six-page letter, Trump on Tuesday told Nancy Pelosi, speaker of the Democratic-led House of Representatives, that "history will judge you harshly."

Referring to a famous miscarriage of justice and religious extremism in the 17th-century United States, resulting in 20 executions, Trump said he'd been given less rights than "those accused in the Salem Witch Trials."

The letter came just minutes before Pelosi announced that the House would vote Wednesday to make Trump only the third US leader ever impeached and placed on trial in the Senate.

"Tomorrow the House of Representatives will exercise one of the most solemn powers granted to us by the Constitution as we vote to approve two articles of impeachment against the president of the United States," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a letter to Democratic colleagues on Tuesday.

"During this very prayerful moment in our nation's history, we must honor our oath to support and defend our constitution from all enemies, foreign and domestic," she added.

Frustration and fury

Trump is accused of attempting to force Ukraine into what would have been a damaging announcement of an unfounded probe into a main 2020 reelection rival, Joe Biden.

He is also accused of obstructing Congress by refusing to cooperate with the impeachment investigation, barring staff from testifying and holding back documentary evidence. 

The two articles of impeachment are certain to pass in the House, where Democrats hold a firm majority.

That will send the case to the Senate, where a trial of Trump is expected to open in January, and his acquittal is equally expected, given the Republicans' control there.

Even with that likely outcome, Trump virtually exploded in an extraordinary outpouring of frustration and fury in the letter to Pelosi defending his record and attacking Democrats. 

The letter, on White House paper and ending with his characteristic oversized signature in thick black pen, accused the veteran Democratic politician of "breaking your allegiance to the Constitution" and "declaring open war on American Democracy."

It repeated his claim that the entire case against him is a "hoax" and a "colossal injustice."

It said Democrats were being driven in impeachment "by your most deranged and radical representatives of the far left."

Democrats do the numbers

In a comment in Congress likely to further enrage Trump, Pelosi dismissed the missive as "really sick."

With the exception of just two, her party's 235 members in Congress appeared poised to stand united in voting through the formal impeachment charges Wednesday.

While some members from relatively conservative districts face the possibility of being voted out of office next year for their stance, they stood together under Pelosi's political wrangling.

"My military service taught me to put our country -- not politics -- first, and my time as a federal prosecutor taught me about the importance of the rule of law and of justice," declared Mikie Sherrill, a first-term representative from a Trump-leaning district in New Jersey.

"I will be voting in favor of the articles of impeachment."

"I know some people will be angry at my decision, but I was elected to do what is right, not politically safe," said Anthony Brindisi, another first-term Democrat, from a conservative New York constituency.

Tensions in Congress

Tensions boiled over in Congress meanwhile over impeachment. 

At a hearing in the House Rules Committee, which sets out the procedures for votes, senior Republican Doug Collins accused Democrats of trying to rush through the impeachment.

"There will be a day of reckoning," Collins warned. "Whatever you may gain will be short-lived."

And the top two senators butted heads over what form the trial will take.

Democrats are insisting on calling White House officials as witnesses, but Republicans appear to want to put the entire scandal to rest.

Senior Democrat Chuck Schumer wants Trump's chief of staff, former national security advisor and two others to testify.

But Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who can largely set the rules, rejected this and dismissed any idea that the trial wasn't a purely political exercise.

"I think we're going to get almost an entirely partisan impeachment," he said.

"This is a political process. There is nothing judicial about it. I'm not impartial about this at all."

DONALD TRUMP IMPEACHMENT NANCY PELOSI UNITED STATES
As It Happens
LATEST UPDATE: February 6, 2020 - 10:24am

Monitor updates on the impeachment investigation into US President Donald Trump.

February 6, 2020 - 10:24am

Democratic House speaker Nancy Pelosi denounces the Senate's acquittal of President Donald Trump and says he remains "an ongoing threat to American democracy."

"Today, the President and Senate Republicans have normalized lawlessness and rejected the system of checks and balances of our Constitution," Pelosi says in a statement issued after the Senate acquitted Trump of both impeachment articles passed by the House.

"The President remains an ongoing threat to American democracy, with his insistence that he is above the law and that he can corrupt the elections if he wants to," Pelosi says. — AFP

February 6, 2020 - 9:12am

Democratic House speaker Nancy Pelosi denounced the Senate's acquittal of President Donald Trump on Wednesday and said he remains "an ongoing threat to American democracy."

"Today, the President and Senate Republicans have normalized lawlessness and rejected the system of checks and balances of our Constitution," Pelosi said in a statement issued after the Senate acquitted Trump of both impeachment articles passed by the House.

"The President remains an ongoing threat to American democracy, with his insistence that he is above the law and that he can corrupt the elections if he wants to," Pelosi said.

The Republican-majority Senate voted 52-48 to acquit Trump of abuse of power and 53-47 to acquit him of obstruction of Congress. — AFP

February 6, 2020 - 8:06am

US President Donald Trump drew on staunch Republican support to defeat the gravest threat yet to his three-year-old presidency on Wednesday, winning acquittal in the Senate on impeachment charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

Only the third US leader ever placed on trial, Trump readily defeated the Democratic-led effort to expel him from office for having illicitly sought help from Ukraine to bolster his 2020 re-election effort.

Trump immediately claimed "victory" while the White House declared it a full "exoneration" for the president — even as Democrats rejected the acquittal as the "valueless" outcome of an unfair trial. — AFP

January 26, 2020 - 1:43pm

Donald Trump demanded the dismissal of Marie Yovanovitch, the ambassador to Ukraine and a key figure in the president's impeachment trial, according to a video recording released to US media on Saturday. 

The footage was reportedly taken during an April 2018 donor dinner at a hotel and released to news outlets by an attorney for Lev Parnas, an indicted associate of Trump's personal attorney Rudy Giuliani. 

Parnas and his business partner Igor Fruman are key players in Trump's alleged campaign to pressure the government of Ukraine to dig up dirt on Joe Biden, a potential election opponent for the president. 

The issue is central to Trump's ongoing impeachment trial in the US Senate. — AFP

January 25, 2020 - 3:39pm

Donald Trump's lawyers prepare to deliver his first full-throated defense Saturday in the Senate's historic impeachment trial, after Democratic prosecutors spent three days making their case for the US president's removal from office.

Capping 24 total hours of arguments, Democrats tell the 100 senators that Trump abused the power of the presidency in pressuring Ukraine to launch investigations that would help him politically, and then sought to block efforts by Congress to investigate.

Democrats say they had met that burden of proof, as lead House impeachment manager Adam Schiff warned that Trump would remain an "imminent threat" to American democracy if he stays in power. — AFP

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