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House set to vote for president Trump's impeachment

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For nearly three months, Trump has fought the impeachment inquiry at every turn, blocking witness testimony, denying documents and complaining on Twitter that no president has ever suffered such mistreatment at the hands of his political enemies.

But congressional investigators have pushed inexorably toward the scene expected to play out on the House floor on Wednesday evening when members will vote on charges that Trump abused the powers of his office and obstructed Congress in service of a Ukraine scheme meant to harm a political rival, former vice-president Joe Biden.

The House convened at 9 am sharp with plans to debate impeachment and arrive at a vote by early evening, but the fluid quality of that schedule was underscored by an immediate move by Republicans to adjourn the proceedings “to stop wasting America’s time on impeachment”. The motion was summarily defeated.

With a solid Democratic majority in the chamber and a wave of party moderates announcing their support for impeachment, the vote seemed sure to go against Trump by a comfortable margin, hitching him forever to Bill Clinton (1998) and Andrew Johnson (1868) as the only US presidents to be impeached. Richard Nixon resigned in 1974 before the House could vote to impeach him.

Trump would then face a trial early next year in the Republican-controlled Senate. With a two-thirds majority of senators needed to convict Trump and remove him from office, his survival – until the November 2020 election, at least – seems likely.

 Trump dashed off an acrid letter to Pelosi, charging her with ‘declaring open war on American democracy’.

 “It’s a good thing when there are some limits on the conduct that a president can engage in,” said Elliot Williams, a former justice department official and principal with the Raben Group, a public affairs and strategic communications firm.

“And it’s up to Republican senators now to decide whether there are any limits left.”

Just three months ago, Trump was on his way to completing his first term without facing official impeachment proceedings, despite a pile-up of scandals culminating in a report by special counsel Robert Mueller that detailed 10 episodes of alleged obstruction of justice by Trump himself.

 

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