Democrats make impeachment case
In report ahead of today's vote, they say Trump 'betrayed the nation' and remains a 'threat to national security and Constitution'
WASHINGTON : House Democrats laid out their impeachment case against US President Donald Trump on Monday, a sweeping report accusing him of betraying the US and deserving to be ousted, as key lawmakers began to signal where they stand ahead of this week's landmark vote.
What Democrats once hoped would be a bipartisan act is on track to be a partisan roll call today.
A raucous town hall on Monday in the Detroit suburbs put on display the nation's debate over Mr Trump and the prospect of removing him from office.
Freshman Democratic Representative Elissa Slotkin of Michigan was both heckled and celebrated as she announced her support for impeachment.
"There is certainly a lot of controversy about this," Ms Slotkin said to the crowd of 400. "But there just has to be a moment where you use the letter of the law for what it is intended."
Mr 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.
Mr Trump "betrayed the nation by abusing his high office to enlist a foreign power in corrupting democratic elections", says the report from the House Judiciary Committee.
He withheld military aid from the ally as leverage, the report says, and "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 adds that heengaged in an unprecedented attempt to block the investigation and "cover up" his misconduct. "In the history of the Republic, no president has ever ordered the complete defiance of an impeachment inquiry."
Mr Trump, tweeting from the sidelines after instructing the White House not to participate in the House inquiry, insisted he has done nothing wrong. He is promoting lawyer Rudy Giuliani's investigation of Mr Biden and a widely debunked theory that it was actually Ukraine, not Russia, that interfered in the 2016 election, an idea most other Republicans are avoiding.
More than a dozen Democrats said they would vote for impeachment. A handful or fewer are expected to break ranks.
One freshman Democrat, Representative Jeff Van Drew of New Jersey, saw five employees resign on Monday after he said he would vote against impeachment and indicated that he was switching parties to become a Republican.
As the House was detailing its case against the nation's 45th president, attention was turning to the Senate where the top Democrat, Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, called anew for fresh evidence and testimony from White House officials for the impeachment trial.
"What is President Trump hiding?" he said on Monday.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is hoping to avoid a spectacle in his chamber, though Mr Trump has signalled that is what he prefers. Republicans, who hold the majority, are expected to acquit Mr Trump of the charges.
In a letter to Mr McConnell, Mr Schumer proposed hearing testimony from former national security adviser John Bolton, acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney and two others as part of a detailed offer he made to Republicans.
Several Senate Republicans rejected that idea late on Monday, saying the House should have gone to court to force those witnesses to testify over the White House's objections if Democrats wanted to hear from them. "We don't need to clean up their sloppy job," said Republican Iowa Senator Joni Ernst.
Mr McConnell is facing criticism for saying he is taking his "cues" from the White House as he assures Mr Trump there will not be the 67 votes needed in the Senate to convict him.
Democrats complained that he and other Republicans are not operating as impartial jurors.
The House Rules Committee met yesterday to set the parameters for today's debate. - AP