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Pelosi: Draft Articles of Impeachment  12/05 11:02

   Trump Makes Unannounced Visit to Afghanistan

   The U.S. House is pressing forward to draft articles of impeachment against 
President Donald Trump, Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced Thursday. 

   WASHINGTON (AP) -- The U.S. House is pressing forward to draft articles of 
impeachment against President Donald Trump, Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced 
Thursday. 

   ''Our democracy is what is at stake," Pelosi said somberly. "The president 
leaves us no choice but to act."

   Pelosi delivered the historic announcement in solemn tones, drawing on the 
Constitution and the Founding Fathers, as Democrats push toward a vote, 
possibly before Christmas. 

   "The president's actions have seriously violated the Constitution," she said 
from the speaker's office at the Capitol. "He is trying to corrupt, once again, 
the election for his own benefit. The president has engaged in abuse of power, 
undermining our national security and jeopardizing the integrity of our 
elections ."

   "Sadly, but with confidence and humility, with allegiance to our founders 
and a heart full of love for America, today I am asking our chairmen to proceed 
with articles of impeachment," Pelosi said.

   At the core  of the impeachment probe is a July call with the president of 
Ukraine, in which Trump pressed the leader to investigate Democrats and 
political rival Joe Biden as the White House  was withholding military aid to 
the country bordering an aggressive Russia.

   Pelosi emphasized the Russia angle at a news conference later, saying that 
it's Russia and President Vladimir Putin who benefited most from Trump's 
actions toward Ukraine 

   "All roads lead to Putin. Understand that," she declared. "That was the a-ha 
moment."

   Asked as she was leaving if she hates Trump, Pelosi stiffened, returned to 
the podium and responded sharply that the president's views and politics are 
for the voters at elections to judge, but "this is about the Constitution." She 
said that as a Catholic, she does not hate the president but rather is praying 
for him daily.

   Trump tweeted that if Democrats "are going to impeach me, do it now, fast." 
He said he wanted to get on to a "fair trial" in the Senate. The president also 
said that Democrats have "gone crazy." 

   At the White House, press secretary Stephanie Grisham tweeted that Pelosi 
and the Democrats "should be ashamed,"" then she, too, looked past the likely 
impeachment in the Democratic-majority House to trial in the 
Republican-controlled Senate.

   Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., criticized Democrats for 
focusing on impeachment over other issues, though many House-passed bills are 
waiting for action in his chamber. "It's all impeachment, all the time," he 
said.

   Drafting articles of impeachment is a milestone moment, only the fourth time 
in U.S. history Congress has tried to remove a president, and it intensifies 
the deeply partisan undertaking that is consuming Washington and dividing the 
nation.

   Once reluctant to pursue impeachment, warning it was too divisive for the 
country and needed to be a bipartisan endeavor, Pelosi is now leading Congress 
into politically riskier waters for all sides ahead of an election year.

   Republican are standing lock-step with Trump, unwilling to be swayed that 
his actions amount to wrongdoing, let alone impeachable offenses, leaving 
Democrats to go it alone in a campaign to consider removing the 45th president 
from office.

   Trump's allies argue that voters, not lawmakers, should decide the 
president's future. But Democrats say the nation cannot wait for the 2020 
election, alleging Trump's past efforts to have foreign countries intervene in 
the presidential campaign is forcing them to act to prevent him from doing it 
again.

   The number of articles of impeachment and the allegations they will include 
will be both a legal and political exercise as lawmakers balance political 
dynamics while striving to hit the Constitution's bar of "treason, bribery or 
other high crimes and misdemeanors."

   Pulling from the House's investigation, Democrats are focusing on at least 
three areas.

   They argue that Trump abused the power of his office by putting personal 
political gain over national security interests, engaging in bribery by holding 
out $400 millionin military aid thatCongress had approved for Ukraine; and then 
obstructing Congress by stonewalling the investigation.

   Some liberal Democrats want to reach further into Trump's actions, 
particularly regarding the findings from special counsel Robert Mueller's 
report on Russian interference in the 2016 election. That could produce an 
additional article of obstruction not only of Congress, but also of justice.

   But more centrist and moderate Democrats, those lawmakers who are most at 
risk of political fallout from the impeachment proceedings, prefer to stick 
with the Ukraine matter as a simpler narrative that Americans can more easily 
understand.

   The chairmen of the House committees conducting the impeachment inquiry will 
begin drafting the articles, and some lawmakers are expecting to remain in 
Washington over the weekend.

   Members are preparing to vote on the articles of impeachment in the 
Judiciary Committee, possibly as soon as next week. The committee set a Monday 
hearing to receive the Intelligence Committee's 300-page report outlining the 
findings against the president.

   The House is expecting a full vote by Christmas. The would send the issue to 
the Senate for a trial in the new year.


(KR)

 
 
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