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Hearing Sets Stage for Trump Charges   12/09 06:19

   Pushing ahead with articles of impeachment, the House Judiciary Committee 
convenes Monday to formally receive the investigative findings against 
President Donald Trump  as the White House and its allies launch an aggressive 
attack on Democrats and the proceedings.

   WASHINGTON (AP) -- Pushing ahead with articles of impeachment, the House 
Judiciary Committee convenes Monday to formally receive the investigative 
findings against President Donald Trump  as the White House and its allies 
launch an aggressive attack on Democrats and the proceedings.

   Chairman Jerrold Nadler expects the committee to vote soon, possibly this 
week, on at least two or more charges against the Republican president. 
Democrats say Trump's push to have Ukraine investigate rival Joe Biden while at 
the same time withholding U.S. military aid ran counter to U.S. policy and 
benefited Russia. It could result in impeachment charges of abuse of power, 
bribery and obstruction.

   "The central allegation is that the president put himself above his country 
several times, that he sought foreign interference in our elections several 
times, both for 2016 and 2020, that he sought to cover it up," Nadler said. 

   "All this presents a pattern that poses a real and present danger to the 
integrity of the next election, which is one reason why we can't just wait for 
the next election to settle matters," he said.

   The hearing sets off a pivotal week as Democrats march toward a full House 
vote expected by Christmas. In drafting the articles of impeachment, Speaker 
Nancy Pelosi is facing 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." 

   Trump and his allies acknowledge he likely will be impeached in the 
Democratic-controlled House, but they also expect acquittal next year in the 
Senate, where Republicans have the majority. Trump's team is turning attention 
elsewhere, including Monday's release of a long-awaited Justice Department 
report into the 2016 Russia investigation. 

   "Impeachment Hearing Hoax," Trump tweeted Sunday. 

   The White House is refusing to participate in the process it calls a sham 
and the top Republican on the panel, Rep. Doug Collins of Georgia asked to 
postpone the hearing, criticizing Democrats for moving too swiftly. One legal 
scholar testified last week it would be the quickest impeachment in modern 
history. 

   "This is just how desperately they are -- desperately focused on impeaching 
this president,'' said Collins who said against Democrats unleashed thousands 
of pages of documents his side has no time to review before the session. "This 
is a show. This is a farce. This is whatever you want to call it. The American 
people are having their tax dollars wasted on this impeachment of this 
president."

   Trump is heading out for campaign rallies shifting attention away from the 
House. Over the weekend, Trump was focused on a related matter, the Justice 
Department Inspector General's findings into the FBI's decisions to investigate 
Russian interference in the 2016 election. The president has long called 
special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia probe a "witch hunt," but the Inspector 
General's report is expected to reject the president's claim that it was 
illegitimate, according to people familiar with its findings.

   Trump tweeted Sunday, "I.G. report out tomorrow. That will be the big story!"

   Democrats say Trump abused his power in the July 25 phone call when he asked 
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy for a favor in investigating Democrats 
and engaged in bribery by withholding nearly $400 million in military aide that 
Ukraine depends on to counter Russian aggression.

   Trump and his aides have made clear that they now see his impeachment in the 
House as inevitable and have shifted their focus A vote to convict requires a 
two-thirds vote of the Senate, where Republicans hold 53 of 100 seats. It is 
unlikely that any Republican senators would cross party lines and vote to 
remove Trump from office.

   As Democrats draft the articles, Pelosi's challenge will be to go broad 
enough to appease her liberal flank, which prefers a more robust accounting of 
Trump's actions reaching back to Mueller's findings, while keeping the charges 
more tailored to Ukraine as centrist lawmakers prefer. Democratic leaders will 
meet later Monday evening.

   Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., the chairman of the Intelligence Committee, said 
Democrats should approach the question of what to include in the articles the 
way a prosecutor bringing forward "'the strongest and most overwhelming 
evidence and not try to charge everything, even though you could charge other 
things.''

   Schiff said, "I think we should focus on those issues that provide the 
greatest threat to the country. And the president is engaged in a course of 
conduct that threatens the integrity of the next election, threatens our 
national security."

   Monday's hearing is to receive the Intelligence panel's report on the 
inquiry, with lawyers from both parties testifying in what is expected to be a 
day long session that will lay the groundwork for the impeachment charges.

   Nadler, in two television interviews, declined to say ultimately how many 
articles of impeachment Democrats will present but said they will involve 
"certainly abuse of power" and likely "obstruction of Congress." He said final 
decisions will come after Monday's hearing following discussions with House 
leadership and the Democratic caucus.

   Nadler pointed to a "pattern" of conduct by Trump in seeking foreign 
interference in elections but would not commit to including the evidence of 
obstruction of justice in special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation 
as part of the articles of impeachment. 

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

   House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy criticized Democrats for their 
timeline, which he said was unfairly aimed at preventing the nation's voters 
from making their own choices in the 2020 election.

   "If they do not impeach him, they cannot beat him at the polls," McCarthy, 
R-Calif. 

   Trump said over the weekend that his personal attorney Rudy Giuliani wants 
to take the information gathered from Giuliani's investigations and a recent 
trip to Ukraine to the U.S. attorney general and to Congress. But a House GOP 
ally called Giuliani's trip "weird," coming as House investigators review 
allegations that Giuliani improperly worked on behalf of Trump to pressure 
Ukraine to pursue investigations into Biden and Biden's son, as well as a 
discredited conspiracy theory that Ukraine, not Russia, interfered in the 2016 
U.S. election.

   "It is weird that he's over there," said Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., describing 
it as "odd having him over there at this time."

   Nadler spoke on NBC's "Meet the Press" and CNN's "State of the Union," 
McCarthy was on Fox News Channel's "Sunday Morning Futures," Gaetz spoke on 
ABC's "This Week," and Schiff appeared on CBS' "Face the Nation."


(KR)

 
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