Trump impeachment: House committee vote postponed after marathon debate

President Donald TrumpImage copyright

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Donald Trump is likely to become the third president to be impeached

The US House Judiciary Committee has postponed a vote on two impeachment charges against President Donald Trump to later on Friday.

The decision was taken by Democratic committee chairman Jerry Nadler, after two days of acrimonious debate.

Republicans attempted to stall the process, which they described as an illegitimate attack on Mr Trump.

The Democrat-run committee is expected to approve the charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

A full vote by the Democratic-run House would then follow next week, likely making Mr Trump the third US president to be impeached.

But the Senate, controlled by the president’s fellow Republicans, is not expected to remove him from office.

Mr Trump denies any wrongdoing. “No crime!” he wrote on Twitter early on Thursday.

Mr Nadler said the vote would not take place until 10:00 local time (15:00 GMT) on Friday. There are 41 members – 24 Democrats and 17 Republicans – on the judicial committee. They are expected to vote according to party affiliation.

What do the articles of impeachment say?

Mr Trump is accused of trying to force Ukraine to launch a corruption investigation into his political rival Joe Biden, a leading Democratic presidential contender; and of obstructing Congress by stonewalling the House investigation.

Leading Democrats agreed the language across nine pages detailing the charges against the president, which say that Mr Trump “betrayed the nation” by acting “corruptly”.

Media captionHow US law professors teach impeachment

What was said in the debate?

Day two of the judiciary committee’s marathon session saw Jim Jordan, an Ohio Republican, attempt to have the first impeachment charge against Mr Trump removed. Mr Jordan’s amendment was rejected after hours of debate on a 23-17, party-line vote.

“This notion of abuse of power is the lowest of low-energy impeachment theories,” said Matt Gaetz, a Florida Republican and staunch defender of the president whose own proposed amendment was also defeated.

Democrat committee members rebuked Republicans for their fealty to Mr Trump.

“Is any one of my colleagues willing to say that it is ever OK for a president of the United States of America to invite foreign interference in our elections?” asked Pramila Jayapal, a Washington Democrat.

Mr Nadler’s decision late on Thursday to adjourn the vote enraged the Republican members.

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What will happen next week in the House?

A handful of Democrats in swing districts remain unsure how they will vote on impeachment when it comes to next week’s debate, but Democrats have a 36-seat lead over Republicans in the House so passage is still expected to go ahead.

Democrats stepped back from including in the impeachment charges findings by Special Counsel Robert Mueller that Mr Trump may have obstructed the justice department’s inquiry into alleged Russian election meddling. The party’s lawmakers from more conservative districts have argued the focus should be limited to Ukraine.

Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi said on Thursday they would not whip the historic vote, allowing members to make their own personal choice.

What will happen in the Senate?

The Senate is expected to hold a trial next month on the charges and acquit the president. Republicans who hold sway in the chamber appear to favour a quick vote, limiting political fanfare.

Mr Trump has indicated he would like to see witnesses called such as Joe Biden and his son, Hunter, who worked for a Ukrainian gas firm that the US president wanted investigated.

Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader, said on Wednesday no decision had yet been made over how to conduct the trial.

Analysts say the 100-seat chamber does not have the 67 votes needed to remove Mr Trump from office.

Learn more about the impeachment inquiry