Friday the House Judiciary Committee voted to adopt two articles of impeachment against President Trump – capping a contentious three-day session that Republicans panned as a “kangaroo court.”
The committee adopted both articles, alleging abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, on a party-line vote of 23-17. A final vote in the full House is expected next week, which could tee up a Senate trial in the new year just before presidential primaries are set to get underway.
But the committee vote was preceded by fireworks on Thursday night, when Chairman Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., infuriated Republicans by wrapping up the hearing just before midnight and postponing the votes until the morning.
“It is now very late at night,” Nadler said. “I want the members on both sides of the aisle to think about what has happened over these last two days, and to search their consciences before we cast their final votes.”
That led to Republicans decrying what they called a “bush-league stunt” by Nadler to make sure the vote would be carried on daytime television.
“Mr. Chairman, there was no consulting with the ranking member on your schedule for tomorrow — you just blew up schedules for everyone?” Rep. Doug Collins, R-Ga., said. “You chose not to consult the ranking member on a scheduling issue of this magnitude? This is the kangaroo court we’re talking about.”
Friday, the Committee moved quickly through proceedings, taking less than 15 minutes to vote on the articles of impeachment.
Republicans have repeatedly and loudly objected to the impeachment inquiry, which focuses on President Trump’s July 25 conversation with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, in which he pressed Zelensky to “look into” supposed Ukraine interference in the 2016 election and the conduct of former Vice President Joe Biden (a 2020 Democratic presidential candidate) in the country.
Democrats have alleged that the conversation was part of a quid pro quo in which Ukraine would conduct politically related investigations into Trump’s political rivals in exchange for then-withheld military aid and a White House meeting. The articles of impeachment being considered accuse Trump of “obstruction of Congress” and “abuse of power.”
Trump has strongly denied those claims and decried the probe as a “witch hunt.” Hours before the vote, Trump declared that poll numbers “have gone through the roof” against impeachment, especially in swing states.
“People have figured out that the Democrats have no case, it is a total Hoax,” he declared.
They are likely to pass in the House, although questions have been raised about moderate Democrats in districts that voted for Trump in 2016 — many of whom have not said whether they will vote for impeachment.
Should the articles pass the full House, the debate will shift to the Senate for an impeachment trial — where the Republican-controlled chamber would be expected to easily acquit the president.