House panel approves Trump charges, sets up impeachment vote

RSTV Bureau
Washington: House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., top center, and Rep. Doug Collins, R-Ga., the ranking member, right, makes his opening statement during a markup of the articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2019. The Democratic members of the panel are on the bottom row. (AP/PTI Photo)

Washington: House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., top center, and Rep. Doug Collins, R-Ga., the ranking member, right, makes his opening statement during a markup of the articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2019. The Democratic members of the panel are on the bottom row. (AP/PTI Photo)

US lawmakers took the grave step on Friday of approving two charges against Donald Trump, setting up a full House of Representatives vote to impeach the president over his alleged misconduct.

Democrats and Republicans in the House Judiciary Committee voted along strict party lines, 23 to 17, appearing somber as they put Trump on track to become only the third president to be impeached in US history.

Trump is accused, in the first article, of abusing his presidential power by asking Ukraine to investigate his 2020 rival Joe Biden while holding military aid as leverage, and, in the second, of obstructing Congress by blocking the House’s efforts to probe his actions.

Approval of the two charges against the president would send the matter to the full House for a vote expected next week.

Trump is only the fourth US president to face impeachment proceedings and the first to be running for reelection at the same time.

The outcome of the eventual House votes pose potentially serious political consequences for both parties ahead of the 2020 elections, with Americans deeply divided over whether the president indeed conducted impeachable acts and if it should be up to Congress, or the voters, to decide whether he should remain in office.

The President insists he did nothing wrong and blasts the Democrats’ effort daily as a sham and harmful to America.

The President has refused to participate in the proceedings, tweeting criticisms as he did on Thursday from the sidelines, mocking the charges against him in the House’s nine-page resolution as “impeachment light.”

Republican allies seem unwavering in their opposition to expelling Trump, and he claims to be looking ahead to swift acquittal in a Senate trial.

US President Donald Trump on Friday said it was unfair that he was being impeached as he had done no wrong and the country under him was doing quite good.

“It’s not fair that I’m being Impeached when I’ve done absolutely nothing wrong!,” Trump said in a tweet on Friday night as a key Congressional committee, earlier in the day, approved the two articles of impeachment against him.

(With inputs from news agencies)