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Dec. 12, 2019, 11:38 p.m. EST

House Judiciary panel unexpectedly delays historic late-night Trump impeachment vote, to resume Friday

Committee vote expected to end with charges being sent to the full House for action next week, before the holidays

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By Associated Press


Associated Press
Rep. Jim Jordan, Republican of Ohio, listens during a House Judiciary Committee markup of the articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump late Thursday.

The House Judiciary Committee abruptly postponed a historic vote late Thursday on articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump, shutting down a divisive 14-hour session that dragged with sharp partisan divisions but had been expected to end with the charges being sent to the full House for a vote next week.

Approval of the charges against the president is still expected early Friday in the committee. But the sudden turn punctuated the sharp partisan split in the Congress, and the nation, over impeaching the president. The committee, made up of some of the most strident Democrats and Republicans in Congress, clashed for all day and into the night as Republicans insisted on lengthy debate on amendments designed to kill the two formal charges with no hope of winning votes from the majority Democrats.

Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., said the committee would resume the session at 10 a.m. Friday.

Speaking to reporters after the recess was announced, ranking Republican Rep. Doug Collins of Georgia, who said he was not consulted about scheduling, said the chair was aiming for a bigger television audience with the delay. He called the move “ludicrous.”

The committee, made up of some of the most strident Democrats and Republicans in Congress, had already clashed during the lengthy hearing as Republicans insisted on lengthy debate on amendments designed to kill the two formal charges. They kept up the late-night endeavor though they won no votes from the majority Democrats and had no hope of winning any.

Trump is accused, in the first article, of abusing his presidential power by asking Ukraine to investigate his 2020 rival, Joe Biden, while holding military aid as leverage, and, in the second, of obstructing Congress by blocking the House’s efforts to probe his actions.

Trump is only the fourth U.S. president to face impeachment proceedings and the first to be running for reelection at the same time. He insists he did nothing wrong and blasts the Democrats’ effort daily as a sham and harmful to America. Republican allies seem unwavering in their opposition to expelling Trump, and he claims to be looking ahead to swift acquittal in a Senate trial.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi sounded confident Thursday that Democrats, who once tried to avoid a solely partisan effort, will have the votes to impeach the president without Republican support when the full House votes. But she said it was up to individual lawmakers to weigh the evidence.

“The fact is we take an oath to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States,” Pelosi told reporters. “No one is above the law; the president will be held accountable for his abuse of power and for his obstruction of Congress.”

The outcome poses potentially serious political consequences for both parties ahead of the 2020 elections, with Americans deeply divided over whether the president indeed conducted impeachable acts and if it should be up to Congress, or the voters, to decide whether he should remain in office.

The president has refused to participate in the proceedings, tweeting criticisms as he did Thursday from the sidelines, mocking the charges against him in the House’s nine-page resolution as “impeachment light.” But Pelosi said the president was wrong and the case against him is deeply grounded.

Democrats contend that Trump has engaged in a pattern of misconduct toward Russia dating back to the 2016 election campaign that special counsel Robert Mueller investigated. And they say his dealings with Ukraine have benefited its aggressive neighbor Russia, not the U.S., and he must be prevented from “corrupting” U.S. elections again and cheating his way to a second term next year.

“It is urgent,” Pelosi said.

But Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said late Thursday on Fox News, “There is zero chance the president will be removed from office.” He said he was hoping to have no GOP defections in the Senate trial next year.

The Judiciary Committee session drew out over two days, with both sides appealing to Americans’ sense of history — Democrats describing a duty to stop what one called the president’s “constitutional crime spree” and Republicans decrying what one said was the “hot garbage’’ impeachment and what it means for the future of the country.

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