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House votes to send Trump articles of impeachment to Senate, paving way for historic trial

House of Representatives Votes to Adopt the Articles of Impeachment Against Donald Trump (United States House of Representatives/WikiCommons)
January 15, 2020

The House of Representatives on Wednesday voted to send articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump to the Senate, setting the stage for just the third impeachment trial in U.S. history.

The vote was 228-193.

Democrats accuse Trump of extorting the Ukrainian government to boost his re-election effort by besmirching a potential political foe, former Vice President Joe Biden. The House impeached Trump on abuse of power and obstructing Congress, alleging he held up a White House meeting with President Volodymyr Zelensky and almost $400 million in military aid unless Ukraine announced investigations into Biden.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Trump used the funds, which were approved by Congress and concerned many federal government officials when they were withheld, as a “private ATM” to help his “personal political interests” over national security.

Rep. Adam Schiff of California, the House Intelligence Committee chairman who will lead the managers making the case to the Senate, noted money and a critical White House meeting were kept from Ukraine despite the country being “a close ally at war with Russia.”

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“Trump put his own personal interests ahead of our national interests and our national security,” Schiff said. “If not stopped, he will do it again.”

Trump, who has called the impeachment campaign against him a “witch hunt” and a “hoax,” dismissed Democrats on Twitter Wednesday morning.

“Here we go again, another Con Job by the Do Nothing Democrats,” he tweeted. “All of this work was supposed to be done by the House, not the Senate!”

Trump and Republican lawmakers say the president, who campaigned on pulling the U.S. away from such a heavy military aid burden, applied no pressure to Ukraine. No investigations of Biden or Burisma, the Ukrainian gas company whose board included his son, Hunter Biden, were ever announced or conducted. And the Trump administration eventually released aid to Ukraine.

But Democrats point out the aid was only released after a whistleblower filed a complaint on the president’s interactions with Ukraine.

Pelosi, who waited almost a month to call for a House vote to send impeachment articles to the Senate, said Wednesday that she didn’t want to hear about her timing.

“Frankly, this president wasn’t worth it,” Pelosi said on the House floor Wednesday, referencing her efforts to resist early Democratic calls to launch an impeachment inquiry against the president.

But Pelosi said Trump’s interactions with Ukraine “crossed a threshold” that warranted a House vote paving the way for a Senate trial.

Still to be determined is whether the Senate will hear from several key witnesses blocked by the Trump administration. Sen. Minority Leader Chuck Schumer is pushing for “a fair trial” with added witnesses and thousands of documents that have been kept from public view by the Trump administration.

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© 2020 MassLive.com