House takes up Trump's impeachment ahead of historic floor vote

Republicans contend that a "yea" vote on impeachment could cost some moderate House Democrats their seats in next year's congressional elections.

During the planned six hours of debate ahead of the House impeachment vote on December 18, Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Fla, called the impeachment inquiry a "political vendetta".

Based on lawmakers' public statements, a majority in the Democrat-controlled House support impeaching the president on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. Earlier in the day, the House voted to approve rules for the vote.

House Democrats accuse Trump of abusing his power by asking Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden, a former USA vice president and a leading Democratic contender in the 2020 election.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi opened six hours of impeachment debate by saying that "today is a national civics lesson, though a sad one".

"The impeachment inquiry is not an effort to overturn an election", he later added.

The articles of impeachment accuse Trump of abusing power and obstructing justice, charges that House Democrats say fall under the umbrella of "high crimes and misdemeanours" for which a United States president can be impeached.

"What we are discussing today is the established fact that the president violated the constitution".

Democrats accuse Trump of attempting to pressure Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to investigate his political rival Joe Biden and his son Hunter for his own political gain. Lawmakers will now begin debate on the two articles of impeachment. Five of them are USA senators who will act as jurors in the impeachment trial.

The chamber's top Republican, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, has rejected Democratic proposals to call further administration officials to testify and has said there is "no chance" Trump will be removed from office. Republicans are framing the impeachment proceedings as politically motivated and unfair. "If we do not act now, we would be derelict in our duty", the longtime Democratic lawmaker said, calling the U.S. Congress the "custodians of the Constitution".

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