Washington, Dec 13 (IANS) The US House Judiciary Committee has postponed a vote on the political charges against President Donald Trump until the next morning, thus delaying the last step necessary before the full body proceeds with an impeachment vote.
Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler of the Democratic Party announced his decision at 10 p.m. on Thursday following a more than 14-hour-long meeting that turned into a deeply-partisan debate led by the Republican Congressmen, reports Efe news.
Nadler said the committee will meet again at 10 a.m. on Friday.
“It has been a long two days of consideration of these articles and it is now very late at night. I want the members on both sides of the aisle to think about what has happened over these last two days and to search their consciences before we cast our final votes,” Nadler said.
The decision to suspend the session was received with anger by Republicans. Representative Louie Gohmert called Nadler’s move “Stalin-like” and Doug Collins criticized it for altering legislators’ agendas without consensus.
Thursday’s hearing was marked by presentations and endless debate on amendments by Republican congressmen to modify the draft of the two articles of impeachment against Trump — abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.
Although the Democrats had the majority power to stop the Republicans’ delaying strategy and force the vote, they chose to allow it.
However, despite the GOP’s efforts – which consisted largely of using the committee proceedings as a forum to denounce the impeachment process and to attempt to erode the Democrats’ case against the President – the committee voted 23-17 along party lines to reject the amendment that would have removed the abuse of power charge.
In September, Democrats announced the opening of an impeachment inquiry into Trump’s actions after an anonymous whistleblower revealed to US intelligence services the content of a July telephone call between the President and his Ukrainian counterpart, Volodymyr Zelensky.
In that call, Trump asked Kiev to launch an investigation of his political rival, former Vice President Joe Biden, and his son Hunter for alleged corruption in Ukraine, a claim for which no evidence has yet been shown to exist and which Ukrainian officials have rejected.
If the impeachment articles are approved in the Judiciary Committee, the case will move to the full House, which will have to vote on an as yet unspecified date on whether or not to hold an impeachment trial of Trump in the Senate.
If the articles are passed in the lower house, Trump will become the fourth President in US history to face this constitutional process.
The first, Andrew Johnson in 1868, and the third, Bill Clinton in 1998, were both acquitted by the Senate, while the second, Richard Nixon, resigned in 1974 before facing the final House vote.
Republicans have a 53-47 majority in the Senate and Democrats will have a difficult time getting Trump convicted and removed from office, as they need two-thirds of the upper house to oust the President.