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Republicans to unveil measure knocking Trump impeachment effort

File photo: US President Donald Trump Photograph:( AFP )

AFP Washington, United States Oct 24, 2019, 09.24 PM (IST)

United States Senate Republicans will introduce a measure on Thursday that condemns the ongoing impeachment enquiry against Donald Trump, arguing that the process examining the president is "illegitimate."

The resolution is the party's latest effort to attack the Democrat-led probe, even as administration witnesses provide congressional testimony painting a damning picture of presidential abuse of power.

The non-binding resolution, seen as a Republican test of loyalty to the embattled Trump, was crafted by Senate Majority Mitch McConnell and key Trump ally Senator Lindsey Graham. 

Graham's office said in a statement the South Carolina lawmaker would "introduce a Senate resolution condemning the House of Representatives' closed door, illegitimate impeachment inquiry."

Democrats, who lead the House, have been pressing an investigation into explosive revelations that Trump urged Ukraine to conduct investigations for his own political benefit.

A White House summary of Trump's July call with his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelensky showed the US leader asking for a probe into Joe Biden and son Hunter Biden, who did business with a Ukrainian energy company while his father was US vice president.

Joe Biden is the frontrunner in the race to be the Democrat running against Trump in 2020 and it is against the law for any American to seek help from foreigners in a domestic election. 

Trump and several Republicans say the call was above board, but recent testimony by witnesses is being seen as particularly damaging for Trump. 

Democrats say testimony from Washington's top Ukraine envoy this week shows that Trump was withholding almost $400 million in military aid in a bid to force obedience from Ukraine, an American ally battling aggression from US strategic foe Russia.

On Wednesday as a new witness prepared to testify on Capitol Hill, dozens of Republicans stormed the secure meeting room, a violation of House rules and security protocols, to disrupt the "secret" process.

The Republicans have 47 members on the three House committees conducting the impeachment probe who have full rights to attend depositions and question witnesses. 

Lawmakers expect Trump will be impeached by the House. The process would then shift to a trial in the Republican-controlled Senate, where a two-thirds majority is needed to convict a president.