- Title: From outrage to disbelief in Congress as party lines drawn on impeachment
- Date: 25th September 2019
- Summary: WASHINGTON, D.C., UNITED STATES (SEPTEMBER 24, 2019) (REUTERS) WIDE SHOT OF U.S. CAPITOL TIGHT SHOT OF FLAG ON U.S. CAPITOL BUILDING MEDIUM SHOT OF U.S. CAPITOL DOME
- Embargoed: 9th October 2019 19:08
- Keywords: Donald Trump Trump whistleblower investigation Trump whistleblower probe Republicans House investigations impeachment House impeachment politics
- Location: WASHINGTON, D.C., UNITED STATES
- City: WASHINGTON, D.C., UNITED STATES
- Country: USA
- Topics: Government/Politics
- Reuters ID: LVA001AY5QGQV
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Members of Congress on Wednesday (September 25) largely reacted along party lines as Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives launched a formal impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump, accusing him of seeking foreign help to smear Democratic rival Joe Biden ahead of next year's election.
The inquiry ensures a partisan fight in Congress and on the presidential campaign trail in coming months, energizing the most committed Republican and Democratic supporters and overshadowing the Democratic race for the nomination to face Trump in the November 2020 election.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced the inquiry after a closed-door meeting with Democratic lawmakers, saying Trump's actions undermined national security and violated the U.S. Constitution.
"The fact is that the President of the United States, in breach of his constitutional responsibilities, has asked a foreign government to help him in his political campaign at the expense of our national security, as well as undermining the integrity of our elections," Pelosi said. "That cannot stand. He will be held accountable. No one is above the law."
Trump has called the investigation "Witch Hunt garbage."
After transcript were released, Republican Mitt Romney said, "I did read the transcript. It remains troubling in the extreme. It's deeply troubling."
Pelosi's change of heart followed reports that Trump had pressured Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in a July 25 phone call to investigate Biden, the Democratic presidential front-runner, and his son Hunter, who had worked for a company drilling for gas in Ukraine.
Pelosi said the six congressional committees currently investigating Trump would continue with their probes as part of the inquiry. Those panels would work collaboratively, and then decide whether the House Judiciary Committee should draft articles of impeachment, House aides said.
Congressional allies of Trump accused Pelosi of playing politics with the decision. Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell called it "a rush to judgment," saying it should have waited until after details of the phone call were revealed. "The dam finally broke," he said. "Before any of us even had the facts in hand, she caved to the left and announced an impeachment inquiry."
The impeachment inquiry could eventually lead to Trump's removal from office, although that would be a steep task for Democrats. Even if the Democratic-controlled House voted to impeach Trump, the Republican-majority Senate would have to take the next step of removing him from office after a trial. A conviction would require a two-thirds Senate majority.
It will be the first impeachment inquiry in Congress since the 1998 probe of President Bill Clinton for perjury and obstruction of justice in relation to his affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky.
The House voted to impeach Clinton in December 1998, but the Democratic president was acquitted two months later by the Senate and remained in office. The only other president to be impeached, Andrew Johnson in 1868, was also acquitted by the Senate.
(Production: Deborah Lutterbeck)
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