Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives moved closer on Wednesday to impeaching President Donald Trump as a key House committee began debating formal articles of impeachment that are expected to be brought to the House floor next week, Reuters writes.
The House Judiciary Committee was meeting to consider the two articles, which accuse the President of abusing his power by trying to force Ukraine to investigate Democratic political rival Joe Biden and of obstructing Congress when lawmakers tried to look into the matter.
“If the president can first abuse his power and then stonewall all congressional requests for information, Congress cannot fulfill its duty to act as a check and balance against the executive (branch) — and the president becomes a dictator,” Representative Jerrold Nadler, the Democratic chairman of the Judiciary panel, said in opening remarks.
However, the committee’s top Republican, Doug Collins, accused Democrats of being predisposed toward impeachment and argued that the evidence did not support it. “You can’t make your case against the president because nothing happened,” Collins said.
Trump has denied wrongdoing and condemned the impeachment inquiry as a hoax. But Democratic Representative Pramila Jayapal said his misconduct was in plain sight, Reuters adds.
“The President was the first and best witness in this case. The President admitted to his wrongdoing and corrupt intent on national television,” Jayapal said. “The President is the smoking gun.”
Democrats spent much of the evening denouncing Trump’s conduct and shaming Republicans for defending him, while Republicans railed against what they see as a partisan and unjust inquiry.