By Servet Gunerigok and Michael Hernandez
WASHINGTON (AA) – Democrats in the House of Representatives announced Tuesday that they would proceed with two articles of impeachment against U.S. President Donald Trump: abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.
The White House dismissed the announcement as a "baseless and partisan attempt to undermine a sitting president" and a Democratic effort to "overturn the votes of 63 million Americans."
The House's impeachment process is centered on Trump's multiple requests to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to declare criminal investigations into leading Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and his son, Hunter, as well as claims that it was Ukraine, not Russia, that meddled in the 2016 election.
Also at issue is the holdup of some $400 million in congressionally appropriated military aid to Ukraine and whether Trump conditioned its release and a possible Oval Office meeting with Zelensky on the Ukrainian president publicly announcing the investigations.
The abuse of power article is focused on Trump's requests to Ukraine and the holdup of aid that was released on Sept. 11, while the obstruction article stems from the president's directive that top officials not participate in the congressional impeachment probe.
House Democrats open an impeachment inquiry into Trump, Speaker Nancy Pelosi announces, saying the president “must be held accountable; no one is above the law.”
The House Intelligence Committee posts seven-page unclassified whistleblower complaint in which the individual, who has remained anonymous, says he received information from multiple government officials that Trump is using the power of his office to solicit interference from a foreign country in the 2020 election.
Trump says House Democrats will vote to impeach him, but he will prevail in the Senate. "So the Democrats, unfortunately, they have the votes. They can vote very easily, even though most of them, many of them, don’t believe they should do it," Trump tells reporters at the White House.
Hunter Biden acknowledges he demonstrated "poor judgment" in his private business dealings but denies any wrongdoing. He says he probably would not have been selected to join the board of Burisma Holdings, a Ukraine-based gas company, had he not shared the same surname as his father.
The House of Representatives votes largely along party lines to formalize its impeachment investigation into Trump, taking one of the most significant steps in the process.
Chairs of the House Intelligence, Foreign Affairs and Government Oversight committees call on White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney to testify in the impeachment probe, claiming Mulvaney possesses “substantial first-hand knowledge and information relevant to the House’s impeachment inquiry.”
The House Intelligence Committee announces it will hold its first open hearings as part of the impeachment inquiry, hosting William Taylor, the top U.S. diplomat to Ukraine, and George Kent, a top State Department official, as well as Marie Yovanovitch, who served as former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine until May, when she was dismissed.
Gordon Sondland, Washington’s envoy to the European Union, gives dramatic testimony, saying Trump directed a “quid pro quo” scheme to push Ukraine to launch a probe into his political rival, Joe Biden.
The House Judiciary Committee holds its first impeachment hearing centered on testimony from legal experts who are examining whether Trump's Ukraine dealings rise to the level of “high crimes and misdemeanors,” the bar set for impeachment.
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi asks Democratic lawmakers to draft articles of impeachment against Trump, saying he “leaves us no choice but to act."
After being invited, the White House says it will not participate in the Judiciary Committee's second hearing, with counsel Pat Cipollone slamming the impeachment inquiry as "completely baseless” in a letter addressed to the Chairman Jerry Nadler.
The Judiciary Committee is expected to take up the articles later this week. The committee's deliberations will precede a vote likely to send the articles to the full House, where a vote is expected next week.
While the likelihood of Trump's impeachment is high, the prospect of his removal from office is low.
In the likely event that at least one of the two articles being considered clears the House, they are almost certain to be defeated in a trial in the Republican-held Senate. An article of impeachment requires a two-thirds majority to clear the chamber, and with Republicans holding 53 of the Senate's 100 seats, Trump is almost certain to retain office.
To date, the House has only voted three times on articles of impeachment against a sitting president. Presidents Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton were acquitted in Senate trials while Richard Nixon stepped down from office to avoid removal.