US President Donald Trump has angrily objected to the House of Representatives’ articles of impeachment, accusing Democrats of “perversion of justice and abuse of power” in their effort to remove him from office.
In a fiery letter Tuesday to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on the eve of an expected impeachment vote, Trump maintained that he did nothing wrong in seeking foreign investigation of political rivals, and he attacked Democrats for focusing on impeachment rather than other issues.
In a long paragraph listing his purported accomplishments as president, he included “recognition of Israel’s capital, opening the American Embassy in Jerusalem, and recognizing Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights.”
Trump said he doesn’t believe his letter will change anything, but that he is registering his objections “for the purpose of history.”
In remarks to reporters in the Oval Office, Trump rejected that he’d done anything wrong.
“It’s a total sham,” he said.
Asked if he took any responsibility for the crisis, he said: “I don’t take any, zero to put it mildly.”
Meanwhile at the Capitol, House Democrats and Republicans sparred over the rules of debate for Wednesday’s historic votes on impeaching Trump, dispatching the lofty rhetoric of constitutional duty for the rugged politics of the House action and Senate trial that is expected to follow.
The Democratic-majority House Rules Committee met through the day Tuesday, with lawmakers arguing over the parameters for Wednesday’s debate, which is expected to culminate in votes to make Trump the third president to be impeached in American history.
“It’s unfortunate that we have to be here today, but the actions of the president of the United States make that necessary,” said Chairman Jim McGovern, D-Mass. “The evidence is as clear as it is overwhelming.”
He said the president “jeopardized our national security. and he undermined our democracy” and added that “every day we let President Trump act like the law doesn’t apply to him, we move a little closer” to rule by dictators.
Republicans disagreed, firmly. No Republicans are expected to vote to impeach Trump. But one by one Democrats are amassing a majority from their ranks as lawmakers, including many freshmen who could risk re-election in fall from districts where Trump is popular, announced they will join in voting for the two articles of impeachment.
“We must impeach this president,” said a statement from Democratic Rep. Chrissy Houlahan of Pennsylvania, an Air Force veteran who is among a group of newly-elected former national security officials calling for impeachment. “I grieve for our nation. But I cannot let history mark the behavior of our President as anything other than an unacceptable violation of his oath of office.”
Speaker Pelosi, who warned against pursuing a strictly partisan impeachment, is now all but certain to have the numbers as voting begins.
As impeachment appears set in the House, attention is shifting to the Senate which, under the constitution, is required to hold a trial on the charges. It is expected to begin in January.
Trump faces two articles of impeachment brought by Democrats. They say he abused the power of his office by pressuring Ukraine to investigate Democratic rival Joe Biden ahead of the 2020 election and obstructed Congress by aggressively trying to block the House investigation from its oversight duties as part of the nation’s system of checks and balances.
The president “betrayed the Nation by abusing his high office to enlist a foreign power in corrupting democratic elections,” says the 650-page report from the House Judiciary Committee. He withheld military aid from the ally as leverage, the report says, and ”Trump, by such conduct, has demonstrated that he will remain a threat to national security and the Constitution if allowed to remain in office.”
The report says the president then engaged in an unprecedented attempt to block the investigation and “cover up” his misconduct. The report also includes Republican rebuttals.