ADDS DETAILS THROUGHOUT
By Michael Hernandez
WASHINGTON (AA) - A starkly divided House Judiciary Committee voted along party lines Friday to approve two articles of impeachment against U.S. President Donald Trump: obstruction of Congress, and abuse of power.
The 23-17 votes after two days of debate saw all of the panel's Democrats vote in support as Republicans uniformly opposed the measures, which now go to the full House of Representatives for a vote.
"Today is a solemn and sad day," Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler said in brief remarks to reporters after the historic vote. "For the third time in a little over a century-and-a-half the House Judiciary Committee has voted articles of impeach against the president."
"The House will act expeditiously," he added.
In the highly likely event that at least one of the articles passes the wider chamber the matter would be turned over to the Senate where the president would face the charges in a trial-like setting.
Addressing reporters in the Oval Office Trump said he does not have a preference on whether the Senate trial is long or short, because he said "we did nothing wrong."
"I wouldn’t mind a long process because I’d like to see the whistleblower, who’s a fraud -- the whistleblower wrote a false report, and I really blew it up when I released the transcript of the call," Trump said, referring to the hitherto anonymous individual who issued a complaint about Trump's July 25 call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
The date of the House vote is still unclear, but multiple reports citing Democratic leadership said it is expected to take place on Wednesday before Congress adjourns for the Christmas and New Year holidays.
The House's impeachment process is centered on Trump's multiple requests to 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, who 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 that aid that was released Sept. 11, while the obstruction article is centered on the president's directive that top officials not cooperate in the impeachment probe.
The House had previously voted only twice on articles of impeachment against a sitting president. Presidents Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton were acquitted in Senate trials. Trump now becomes the third president to face impeachment articles in the Senate.
Richard Nixon stepped down from office to avoid his removal as part of the Watergate scandal.