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House Democrats lay out case for formal Trump impeachment

‘President Trump put himself before country,’ Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler says

U.S. Rep. Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., opens the House Judiciary Committee hearing to formally receive investigate findings in the impeachment of President Donald Trump, Dec. 9, 2019, in Washington.
U.S. Rep. Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., opens the House Judiciary Committee hearing to formally receive investigate findings in the impeachment of President Donald Trump, Dec. 9, 2019, in Washington. (ABC News)

WASHINGTON – The House Judiciary Committee received a detailed summing up of the impeachment case against President Donald Trump Monday as Democrats prepare formal charges against him. Trump and his allies lobbed fresh assaults on the proceedings they dismiss as a hoax and a sham.

Democratic lawyers outlined the findings so far, saying Trump’s push to have Ukraine investigate rival Joe Biden while at the same time withholding U.S. military aid ran counter to U.S. policy and benefited Russia as well as himself. A committee vote is coming, possibly as soon as this week, on two or more articles of impeachment on charges of abuse of power, bribery and obstruction against the Republican president.

Trump quickly began tweeting anew against the “Witch Hunt!” and deriding “Do Nothing Democrats.”

Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler was blunt as he opened the hearing, saying, “President Trump put himself before country.”

The top Republican on the panel, Rep. Doug Collins said Democrats are racing to jam impeachment through on a “clock and a calendar” ahead of the 2020 presidential election.

“They can’t get over the fact that Donald Trump is the president of the United States and they don’t have a candidate that can beat him,” Collins said.

The Republicans tried numerous times to halt or slow the proceedings, formally objecting several times that the committee’s Democratic counsel was impugning Trump as he spelled out potential charges. Nadler responded that negative comments about Trump might well be expected in listing reasons to impeach him. The Republicans still demanded votes on “taking down” the negative comments, defeated on party-line votes.

The hearing was briefly interrupted by a protester shouting “We voted for Donald Trump!” and decrying Democrats as the ones committing “treason.” The protester was escorted from the House hearing room by Capitol Police.

The hearing sets off a pivotal week as Democrats march toward a full House vote expected by Christmas. In drafting the articles of impeachment, Speaker Nancy Pelosi is facing a legal and political challenge of balancing the views of her majority while hitting the Constitution’s bar of “treason, bribery or other high crimes and misdemeanors.”

Nadler said the case against Trump is clear after “multiple officials testified that the president’s demand for an investigation into his rivals was a part of his personal, political agenda, and not related to the foreign policy objectives of the United States.

“The integrity of our next election is at stake.”

Trump spent the weekend tweeting against the proceedings. He and and his allies acknowledge he likely will be impeached in the Democratic-controlled House, but they also expect acquittal next year in the Senate, where Republicans have the majority. Trump’s team is turning attention elsewhere, including Monday’s release of a long-awaited Justice Department report into the 2016 Russia investigation.

“Impeachment Hearing Hoax,” Trump tweeted Sunday.

In advance of the hearing, Nadler sent a letter to the White House officially forwarding the House Intelligence committee’s report, along with additional evidence supporting impeachment. It also invited White House officials to review sensitive materials in a classified setting.

The White House is refusing to participate in the process , and Rep(. Collins asked to postpone the hearing, criticizing Democrats for moving too swiftly. One legal scholar testified last week it would be the quickest impeachment in modern history.