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House on track for historic impeachment debate, vote

An overcast sky hangs above the U.S. Capitol

An overcast sky hangs above the U.S. Capitol in Washington on Monday. Credit: Getty Images / Samuel Corum

WASHINGTON — The U.S. House is on track to hold a historic debate and vote on whether to impeach President Donald Trump on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress this week, most likely Wednesday.

House Democratic leaders said they are confident they will have the votes to approve those two articles of impeachment, despite some defections, including the switch to the Republican Party by New Jersey Democratic Rep. Jeff Van Drew.

Those articles charge that Trump pressured Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden by withholding U.S. security aid Ukraine needed to fend off Russia and then blocked the House investigation of his actions.

The House Rules Committee will meet Tuesday to formally set the date for the vote on impeachment, which will be the endpoint of the House impeachment process that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) formally set in motion on Sept. 25.

Lawmakers will debate the resolution containing the impeachment charges as well as the parameters of the debate when they meet, but with their majority Democrats will have the final say on what, if any, changes will be made.

The Rules Committee will be guided in part by the 658-page report that the House Judiciary Committee made public early Monday to accompany the nine-page resolution containing the two articles of impeachment against Trump.

The Democrats’ report asserted that Trump “betrayed the Nation” by putting his personal and political interests above national security, fair elections and Congress. 

The Republicans’ dissent in the report called the evidence of wrongdoing “weak” and based on “inferences built upon presumption and hearsay.”

Activists for and against impeachment have planned rallies and events across the country on the eve of the House debate and vote.

The debate on the articles by the full House probably will be managed by the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-Manhattan) and the ranking member, Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.).

Also expected this week is an announcement of which dozen or so lawmakers will serve as House managers — which are in effect prosecutors — to present their case against Trump in the Senate trial, which will not start until next year.

Meanwhile, Senate leaders have begun discussing how to run the trial in their chamber.

The Senate is expected to acquit Trump of the charges because Republicans hold 53 votes and Democrats need 67 votes to convict.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said last week that he has been coordinating with the White House counsel and that his position on the trial will not differ from Trump’s position.

McConnell has said he would prefer a short, quick trial, without witnesses, but Trump has expressed interest in using the trial to grill Biden, his son Hunter, Schiff and the whistleblower.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said at a news conference Monday that McConnell has agreed to meet to talk about the trial and discussed the letter he sent McConnell outlining a trial that would begin Jan. 6.

“We want to come up with a fair trial, where the facts come out without dilatory actions, and without making this into a circus of unrelated conspiracy theories of either the right or the left,” Schumer said.

But Schumer said he wants testimony at the trial from four witnesses, including former national security adviser John Bolton, Trump’s acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney,  Mulvaney's top aide and a White House budget office official. Trump blocked all four from testifying in the House.

“The four witnesses we propose have direct knowledge of why the aid to Ukraine was delayed. We don't know what kind of evidence they will present,” Schumer said at a news conference. “But they should be heard.”

McConnell did not comment on the Senate trial Monday. 

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