Washington (AP) - Democrats in the US House of Representatives are pushing ahead with preparations for impeachment of President Donald Trump.
Already on Wednesday evening (local time), the Judiciary Committee in the House of Representatives will deal with the two charges against Trump, as emerges from an announcement by the committee. For Thursday then another session is scheduled. Then the committee could vote on the charges and thus give a recommendation to the Plenum of the House of Representatives.
- What happens then: If the deputies majority agree with the indictment in plenary, the impeachment process against Trump would be formally opened. This vote is expected next week, so before Christmas. A majority is foreseeable, the Democrats dominate the House of Representatives. The trial will probably take place in January in the Senate - and there Trumps Republicans have the majority.
- These are the charges: The chairman of the Judiciary Committee, Jerrold Nadler, had presented the charges for impeachment only on Tuesday. The President should therefore be responsible for abuse of power and for obstructing the investigation of the Congress, so the Parliament. The resolution states that Trump's behavior has shown that "if he is allowed to remain in office, he will remain a threat to national security and to the constitution."
- That's the background: the Ukraine affair. The Democrats accuse Trump of urging Ukrainian President Volodymyr Selenskyj to investigate his political rival Joe Biden in an attempt to influence the US presidential election in 2020 in his favor. They see as proven that Trump has made the announcement of such investigations a meeting with Selenskyj in the White House and the release of military aid for Ukraine dependent. When that came out, Trump did everything in his power to block the House of Representatives' investigation.
- What the White House says: "The president will address these false allegations in the Senate and expect him to be completely relieved because he did not do anything wrong," said White House spokeswoman Stephanie Grisham. She called the trial a "pathetic attempt to overthrow the Trump government." The Democrats wanted to invalidate the votes of the 63 million Americans who voted for Trump in 2016. Trump himself said at a rally in Hershey, Pennsylvania, on Tuesday night that Republicans had never been as united as they are today. "Because all this is a hoax and they understand that." The Democrats wanted to initiate impeachment, although there are no crimes.
- What the Democrats say: "If we allow a president to follow such a path - any president, whoever he or she may be - we say goodbye to the republic and welcome a presidential king," said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff said Trump undermined national security and endangered the integrity of the next election - "and he continues to do so".
- Why Trump (currently) has little to fear: For a conviction and impeachment in the Senate, a two-thirds majority of the 100 senators would be necessary. But that is not in sight at the moment: 20 republican senators would have to vote with the democrats. So far, the Republicans are closed behind Trump. In the history of the United States, not a single President has been removed from office by the Senate.
- Why the impeachment is nevertheless significant: even the formal opening of an impeachment trial would tarnish Trump's legacy. Trump is after Andrew Johnson, Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton only the fourth president in the history of the US, against which Impeachment investigations were led. Formally, impeachment proceedings have only been opened against Johnson and Clinton - Nixon resigned before the House of Representatives voted on the charges in the Watergate affair.