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Trump Charges: Betrayal of Nation      12/11 06:23

   House Democrats announced two articles of impeachment against President 
Donald Trump, declaring he "betrayed the nation" with his actions toward 
Ukraine as they pushed toward historic proceedings that are certain to help 
define his presidency and shape the 2020 election.

   WASHINGTON (AP) -- House Democrats announced two articles of impeachment 
against President Donald Trump, declaring he "betrayed the nation" with his 
actions toward Ukraine as they pushed toward historic proceedings that are 
certain to help define his presidency and shape the 2020 election.

   The specific charges aimed at removing the 45th president  of the United 
States: abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

   Speaker Nancy Pelosi, flanked by the chairmen of impeachment inquiry 
committees at the U.S. Capitol, said they were upholding their solemn oath to 
defend the Constitution. Trump responded angrily on Twitter: "WITCH HUNT!"

   Voting is expected in a matter of days by the Judiciary Committee, which 
begins deliberations Wednesday, and by Christmas in the full House. The 
charges, if approved, would then be sent to the Senate, where the Republican 
majority would be unlikely to convict Trump, but not without a potentially 
bitter trial just as voters in Iowa and other early presidential primary states 
begin making their choices.

   In the formal articles announced Tuesday, the Democrats said Trump enlisted 
a foreign power in "corrupting" the U.S. election process and endangered 
national security  by asking Ukraine to investigate his political rivals, 
including Democrat Joe Biden, while withholding U.S. military aid as leverage. 
That benefited Russia over the U.S. as America's ally fought Russian 
aggression, the Democrats said.

   Trump then obstructed Congress by ordering current and former officials to 
defy House subpoenas for testimony and by blocking access to documents, the 
charges say. 

   By his conduct, Trump "demonstrated he will remain a threat to national 
security and the Constitution if allowed to remain in office, " the nine-page 
impeachment resolution says.

   "If we did not hold him accountable, he would continue to undermine our 
election," Pelosi said later at a forum sponsored by Politico. "Nothing less is 
at stake than the central point of our democracy - a free and fair election.''

   Trump tweeted that to impeach a president "who has done NOTHING wrong, is 
sheer Political Madness."

   He later headed to Pennsylvania for a reelection campaign rally, where he 
called the effort "impeachment lite" and promised it would lead to his 
reelection in 2020.

   The outcome appears increasingly set  as the House presses ahead toward 
impeachment as it has only three times in history against U.S. presidents, a 
test of the nation's system of checks and balances.

   Democrats said they had a duty to act in what is now a strictly partisan 
undertaking, as Republicans stand with the president, because Trump has shown a 
pattern of behavior that, if left unchecked, poses risks to the democratic 
process.

   Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., the Judiciary chairman, said the president 
"holds the ultimate public trust. When he betrays that trust and puts himself 
before country, he endangers the Constitution; he endangers our democracy; he 
endangers our national security." 

   "No one, not even the president, is above the law," he said, announcing the 
charges before a portrait of George Washington.

   Chairman Adam Schiff of the Intelligence Committee said, "We stand here 
today because the president's abuse of power leaves us with no choice."

   Trump's allies immediately plunged into the fight that will extend into the 
new year. White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham said Democrats are 
trying to "overthrow'' the administration. Campaign manager Brad Parscale said 
Democrats "don't have a viable candidate for 2020 and they know it." The 
president's son, Eric, embraced his father's penchant for name calling, 
assailing Pelosi and "her swamp creatures."

   Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he would be "totally surprised'' 
if there were 67 votes in the chamber to convict Trump, and signaled options 
for a swift trial. He said no decision had been made whether to call witnesses.

   In drafting the charges against the president, Pelosi faced a legal and 
political challenge of balancing the views of her majority while hitting the 
Constitution's bar of "treason, bribery or other high crimes and misdemeanors."

   Some liberal lawmakers wanted more expansive charges encompassing the 
findings from special counsel Robert Mueller's probe of Russian interference in 
the 2016 election. Centrist Democrats preferred to keep the impeachment 
articles more focused on Trump's actions toward Ukraine as a clearer case.

   The final resolution, slim in length yet broad in concept, attempted to find 
common ground by linking the Ukraine inquiry to the Mueller probe in two 
separate lines.It said the abuse of power was consistent with Trump's "previous 
invitations of foreign interference in United States elections" while the 
obstruction charge was consistent with his efforts to undermine U.S. government 
''investigations into foreign interference."

   Democratic leaders say Trump put his political interests above those of the 
nation when he asked Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy in a July phone call 
to investigate his rivals, including Democrat Joe Biden, and then withheld $400 
million in military aid as the U.S. ally faced an aggressive Russia. They say 
he then obstructed Congress by stonewalling the House investigation. 

   The articles say Trump "used the powers of the presidency in a manner that 
compromised the national security of the United States and undermined the 
integrity of the United States democratic process." 

   The first article, on abuse of power, says Trump "corruptly" solicited 
Ukraine to investigate his political rivals.

   The second article, obstruction of Congress, says that Trump directed 
defiance of the House's ability to conduct its legal oversight like no other 
president "in the history of the republic."

   Trump insisted in a new tweet that when he asked Ukraine's president "to do 
us a favor" with the investigations, "'us' is a reference to USA, not me!" 
Democrats, however, say Trump's meaning could not have been clearer in seeking 
political dirt on Biden, his possible opponent in the 2020 election.

   Republicans stand with the president even if they don't fully address his 
actions. House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy said, the vote will be on impeachment 
not "whether a call is perfect.''

   While the impeachment is focused on the Ukraine matter, Trump's actions 
toward Russia continue underlie the debate. On Tuesday Trump met at the White 
House with Sergey Lavrov, the Russian foreign minister just back from Paris 
efforts to revive peace talks with Ukraine.

   At the same time, a top adviser to the Ukraine president, Andriy Yermak, 
disputed key impeachment testimony from U.S. Ambassador Gordon Sondland, 
telling Time magazine the two did not speak of the investigations Trump wanted 
during a Warsaw meeting.

   The next steps are expected to come swiftly after months of investigation 
into the Ukraine matter and special counsel Mueller's two-year Russia probe.

   In his report, Mueller said he could not determine that Trump's campaign 
conspired or coordinated with Russia in the 2016 election. But he said he could 
not exonerate Trump of obstructing justice and left it for Congress to 
determine.

   Even as she pushed ahead with the impeachment proceeding, Pelosi announced 
an agreement with the White House  on a new U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade deal, a 
top priority for the president as well as many centrist Democrats. It, too, 
could get a vote next week. 


(KR)

 
 
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