Trump impeachment gains momentum as vote on charges possible this week


WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Democrats in the House of Representatives are drafting articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump and the Judiciary Committee may hold a vote this week, the panel’s chairman said on Sunday.

FILE PHOTO: U.S. House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) speaks at a news conference ahead of a vote on the Voting Rights Advancement Act, on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., December 6, 2019. REUTERS/Loren Elliott/File Photo

Representative Jerrold Nadler told CNN’s “State of the Union” his committee will not decide on the charges against the Republican president until after a hearing on Monday to consider evidence gathered by the House Intelligence Committee that led the investigation.

The impeachment inquiry that threatens Trump’s presidency focuses on his request that Ukraine investigate former Vice President Joe Biden, a leading contender for the Democratic nomination to face Trump in the November 2020 election.

“There are possible drafts that various people are writing,” Nadler said. “But the fact is we’re not going to make any decision as to how broad the articles should be – as to what they contain, what the wording is – until after the hearing tomorrow.”

Judiciary Committee Democrats worked through the weekend poring over information from the Intelligence Committee and constitutional law scholars who testified on Wednesday.

The panel is considering articles of impeachment that would accuse Trump of abuse of power in his dealings with Ukraine and obstruction of Congress for refusing to cooperate with Congress.

Democrats need to settle the question of whether to draft a third article alleging obstruction of justice based on former Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report on Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

Asked about Mueller being included in the charges, Nadler cautioned not to draw conclusions.

“It is part of the pattern which is why I bring it up,” he said on CNN. “It’s part of a pattern of misconduct which stresses the urgency of making sure that we deal with this so that the 2020 election is carried on honestly with integrity.”

That could indicate that Democrats are leaning away from basing a separate article of impeachment on the Russia investigation.

House Democratic incumbents from swing districts, who must appeal to skeptical independent voters for re-election, have expressed misgivings about supporting a charge of obstruction of justice based on Mueller.

As an alternative to an article based on the Mueller report, House Judiciary Democrats have said they could instead use those findings to demonstrate a repeated pattern of alleged misconduct by Trump to support formal charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

The Mueller report depicts episodes in which Trump appealed to Russia to seek the emails of his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton and later sought to derail the Mueller investigation.

Nadler told NBC’s “Meet the Press” articles of impeachment would be brought to the committee later in the week. Asked on CNN if a vote were possible this week, he said, “It’s possible.”

Republicans are demanding that Nadler postpone Monday’s hearing to give them time to review additional material from the impeachment investigation led by the House Intelligence Committee that was turned over to the Judiciary panel on Friday.

“It is impossible for Judiciary members to sift through thousands and thousands of pages in any meaningful way in a matter of hours,” the committee’s top Republican, Representative Doug Collins, told Nadler in a weekend letter.

FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Donald Trump delivers remarks at the Israeli American Council National Summit in Hollywood, Florida, U.S., December 7, 2019. REUTERS/Loren Elliott/File Photo

Nadler dismissed the contention, saying that the documents presented on Saturday were basically the intelligence committee report released earlier in the week to both Republicans and Democrats.

“They have had adequate time,” Nadler said on CNN.

Reporting by Doina Chiacu, David Morgan; Additional reporting by Brad Heath; Editing by Lisa Shumaker

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