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Trump Impeachment Debate Begins On Stormy Note

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The House Judiciary Committee opened the debate on impeachment charges against President Donald Trump Wednesday, which turned out to be a fiery partisan battle.

The House Democrats charged Trump with two articles of impeachment - for Abuse of Power and Obstruction of Congress.

The House committees are seeking grounds to impeach Trump over an alleged request he made on July 25 over phone to his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelensky to conduct an investigation of his potential presidential rival Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden in return for releasing U.S. military aid to Ukraine.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler opened the hearing by saying, "the two articles charge President Trump with placing his private political interests above our national security, above our free and fair elections, and above our ability to hold public officials accountable."

He alleged that after the call to Zelensky, President Trump ratcheted up the pressure. "He dangled the offer of an Oval Office meeting. He withheld $391 million in military aid. His personal lawyer traveled to push the Ukrainians directly. The President deployed other agents, including outside the official channels of diplomacy, to make his desires clear."

Nadler added that Trump did everything in his power to obstruct the investigation. "He declared across-the-board resistance. He ordered every official in the federal government to defy all subpoenas related to the inquiry. At his command, the Administration also refused to produce a single document related to the inquiry."

He said it was against the precedence set by two other Presidents who faced impeachment. "During the Watergate hearings, President Nixon turned over recordings of his conversations in the Oval Office; later, President Clinton handed over his DNA."

Republicans were united in claiming there was no proof to substantiate the charges of impeachment against the President.

Doug Collins, the ranking Republican member on the committee, said that Democrats have been seeking to impeach Trump ever since he became President in January 2017, and have no clear case beyond abuse of power. "It's just generic vague statements," according to the senior lawmaker.

All the 41 members from both sides of the House Judiciary Committee spoke at the debate.

The public hearing, which was televised, will conclude on Thursday, and make a recommendation to the full House of Representatives to vote on the articles later this week.

The articles are expected to be approved by the Democrats-controlled House, after which the Republican-held Senate will conduct an impeachment trial.

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