Top Democrats in the US House of Representatives made a last-minute pitch to Republicans yesterday for why they should put partisanship aside and vote to impeach President Donald Trump.
Trump is expected to become the third US president to be impeached when the full Democratic-led House votes on the charges, likely this week, setting up a trial in the Republican-controlled Senate.
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, speaking on ABC’s This Week, warned that Trump poses “a clear and present danger” to democracy.
In congressional hearings that have gripped Washington, Democrats accused the president of endangering the US Constitution, jeopardising national security and undermining the integrity of the 2020 election by asking Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy in a July phone call to investigate his Democratic political rival Joe Biden.
Schiff and House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, speaking on the same show, said lawmakers have a constitutional duty to hold Trump to account for his actions.
Their comments come as the House is poised later this week to vote along party lines on whether to approve two articles of impeachment.
The Senate has shown little appetite for removing Trump from office.
“The misconduct hasn’t stopped,” Schiff said, noting that Trump has still urged Ukraine, as well as China, to investigate the Biden family, and that Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani is still travelling to Ukraine to conduct a “sham” investigation.
“The threat to our election integrity ... goes on. It’s a clear and present danger, I think, to our democracy and not something that we can turn away from simply because the Republicans in the House refuse to do their duty.”
Republicans have defended Trump and accused Democrats of a politically-motivated effort aimed at overturning his surprise 2016 presidential election victory.
House Democrats on Friday voted to approve articles of impeachment charging Trump with abusing the power of his office over the Ukraine scandal and obstructing Democrats’ attempts to investigate him for it.
“Impeachment is a hoax. It’s a sham,” Trump told reporters at the White House after the committee’s vote. “There was nothing done wrong. 
“To use the power of impeachment for this nonsense is an embarrassment to this country.”
Biden, a former US vice-president, is a leading Democratic candidate to face Trump in the November 3 election.
Trump has alleged that Biden was involved in corruption in Ukraine and should be investigated there, but has offered no evidence.
Biden has denied wrongdoing.
Both Democrats used their air time yesterday to urge the Senate to call witnesses and seek documentary evidence that they said the White House has withheld.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has raised the prospect of conducting a short trial without calling any witnesses.
Nadler said yesterday such a move would do a disservice to the Senate, whose members will all effectively serve as jurors who will need to weigh the evidence to decide whether Trump should be convicted and removed from office.
Some of Trump’s staunch Republican defenders in the Senate have already said they believe Trump did nothing wrong, though others have taken a more cautious approach, saying they want to see the evidence first.
During an interview with CNN International at the Doha Forum in Qatar on Saturday, Republican Senator Lindsey Graham dismissed the idea that he should be a “fair juror”, and said he does not see the need for a formal trial in the Senate.
However, Republican Senator Pat Toomey said on NBC’s Meet the Press: “I think we ought to hear what the House impeachment managers have to say, give the president’s attorneys an opportunity to make their defence, and then make a decision about whether and to what extent we go forward from there.”
Separately this weekend, the Washington Post reported that Jeff Van Drew of New Jersey, an anti-impeachment Democrat, will soon join the Republican Party.
Trump tweeted in response to the news: “Wow, that would be big. Always heard Jeff is very smart!”
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