Washington, Dec 13 : The Republican minority on the House Judiciary Committee has tried - but failed - to eliminate the "abuse of power" accusation against President Donald Trump in the debate before the vote on the articles of impeachment against him for exerting improper pressure on Ukraine.
The impeachment charges will probably be easily approved by the committee, which has an overwhelming Democratic majority, and then the impeachment case will be ready for a vote by the full House, which is also controlled by the Democrats, Efe news reported.
During the two-hour debate in committee on that amendment, GOP legislators, ardent supporters of Trump, argued vehemently against including the abuse of power article in the two-article impeachment case against the president.
However, despite their efforts - which consisted largely of using the committee proceedings as a forum to denounce the impeachment process and to attempt to erode the Democrats' case against the president - the committee voted 23-17 along party lines to reject the amendment that would have removed the abuse of power charge.
Republican lawmaker Jim Jordan of Ohio presented the amendment to remove the abuse of power charge claiming that it "ignores the truth." Lawmakers then launched into a bitter debate on the matter, which conservatives on the committee took as an opportunity to denounce a process that they claim is unfair to Trump and to try to undermine the Democrats' case.
"It's obvious to all of the American public that this is a railroad job," said Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner of Wisconsin in support of Jordan's amendment.
"The facts speak for themselves. There was no impeachable offense here," he added.
Meanwhile, Democrat Sheila Jackson Lee insisted that "the president abused his power and is a continuing threat, not only to democracy but also to our security." The Republicans plan to put forward other amendments to the impeachment articles, but they are all virtually certain to be rejected by the committee in unwavering party-line votes.
In September, Democrats announced the opening of an impeachment inquiry into Trump's actions after an anonymous whistleblower revealed to US intelligence services the content of a July telephone call between the president and his Ukrainian counterpart, Volodymyr Zeleneky.
In that call, Trump asked Kyiv to launch an investigation of his political rival, former Vice President Joe Biden, and his son Hunter for alleged corruption in the East European country, a claim for which no evidence has yet been shown to exist and which Ukrainian officials have rejected.
During both the closed-door and public hearings in which assorted witnesses testified before several House committees, lawmakers heard details about how Trump conditioned already-approved US military aid and a White House visit for Zelensky to the launching of the probe of the Bidens' activities.
If the impeachment articles are approved in the Judiciary Committee, which in all likelihood will be the result, the case will move to the full House, which will have to vote on an as yet unspecified date on whether or not to hold an impeachment trial of Trump in the US Senate.
Thanks to the Democratic majority in the House - where they hold 235 seats versus 198 for the Republicans - it is expected that the impeachment case will be handed to the Senate, where the chances of the president's conviction are significantly lower, given that a two-thirds majority of lawmakers would be required to remove him from office and the GOP dominates the chamber with 53 of the 100 seats.