US house panel approves Trump charges, sets up impeachment vote

Agencies Washington, United States Dec 13, 2019, 08.53 PM(IST) Dec 13, 2019, 09.24 PM(IST)

File photo of US President Donald Trump.  Photograph:( Reuters )

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

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 sombre as they put Trump on track to become only the third president to be impeached in US history.

White House meanwhile, called the impeachment vote a 'desperate charade'.

Much of the impeachment focus has been on a July 25 phone call in which Trump asked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to investigate Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and his son Hunter, who was on the board of a Ukrainian gas company. That is the basis for a charge by Democrats that Trump abused power.

Trump has also instructed current and former members of his administration not to testify or produce documents, leading senior officials like Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to defy House subpoenas. Democrats say that behaviour constitutes obstruction of Congress, forming the basis of the other impeachment charge.

Trump denies any wrongdoing and has condemned the impeachment inquiry as unfair. His Republican allies in Congress argue that there is no direct evidence of misconduct and that Democrats have conducted an improper process that did not give the president an opportunity to mount his own defence.

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