Trump impeachment inquiry enters new phase

Washington: The next phase of impeachment was set to begin yesterday in the US Congress as lawmakers weigh charges against Donald Trump, after the high-stakes inquiry into the president detailed “overwhelming” evidence of abuse of power and obstruction.
Four constitutional scholars were set to testify before the House Judiciary Committee in the first of a series of hearings to establish the gravity of Trump’s alleged crimes.
On Tuesday, congressional Democrats made a forceful case that Trump should be removed from office for abusing his powers by pressuring Ukraine for dirt on a Democratic election rival.
“The president placed his personal political interests above the national interests of the United States, sought to undermine the integrity of the US presidential election process and endangered US national security,” said the final report on the House Intelligence Committee’s probe, led by lawmaker Adam Schiff.
“President Trump and his senior officials may see nothing wrong with using the power of the office of the president to pressure a foreign country to help the president’s reelection campaign,” it said.
“However, the Founding Fathers prescribed a remedy for a chief executive who places his personal interests above those of the country: impeachment.”
The report is expected to form the basis for the Judiciary Committee to draw up formal charges — articles of impeachment — that could include bribery, abuse of power, obstruction and contempt of Congress.
Democrats reportedly aim to have the articles presented for a vote to the entire House of Representatives before Christmas on December 25.
If they pass as expected, Trump would then stand trial for removal in the Republican-controlled Senate, where he is expected to be exonerated.
On Tuesday, White House spokeswoman Stephanie Grisham dismissed both the report and the impeachment process.
“At the end of a one-sided sham process, Chairman Schiff and the Democrats utterly failed to produce any evidence of wrongdoing by President Trump,” she said in a statement.
The report mapped out a months-long scheme by Trump, his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani and senior diplomats and White House staffers to pressure Ukraine’s president into investigating Joe Biden, the current favourite to win the Democratic White House nomination in 2020.
— AFP