The House of Representatives voted Wednesday on whether to send the articles of impeachment against U.S. President Donald Trump to the Senate.
The measure in the Democratic-controlled House is certain to pass easily, opening the door for an impeachment trial to begin next week.
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi made the announcement Tuesday after meeting with fellow Democrats, nearly a month after the House impeached Trump on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.
Pelosi said the House would also vote Wednesday to name the impeachment managers — lawmakers who will act as prosecutors in a Senate trial.
Senate Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said the Senate would run through “housekeeping measures” later this week. Those measures will include approving a set of rules, as well as U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts swearing in senators before opening arguments begin next week.
“We’ll deal with the witness issue at the appropriate time during the trial – both sides will want to call witnesses they want to hear from,” McConnell told reporters on Capitol Hill Tuesday.
The impeachment allegations contend Trump abused the office of the presidency by pressing Ukraine to launch an investigation into Biden and that the president obstructed congressional efforts to investigate his Ukraine-related actions.
Pelosi had delayed sending the articles to the Senate in a futile effort to get Senate Republican leader McConnell to agree to hear testimony from key Trump aides who were directly involved with Trump, as his administration temporarily withheld nearly $400 million in military aid to Ukraine, while urging Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to open the Biden investigation.
Democrats have called for testimony from current and former Trump administration officials, including former National Security Advisor John Bolton. Republicans have countered by saying they will call their own witnesses including Hunter Biden, the son of former vice president and 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden. Hunter Biden had business dealings with a Ukrainian natural gas company while his father was serving as vice president.
Democrats said late Tuesday they will include new evidence in the impeachment articles provided by Florida businessman Lev Parnas, an associate of Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani.
The evidence is expected to include a screenshot of a previously undisclosed letter Giuliani sent in May to the then President-elect, introducing himself as Trump’s “personal counsel” and requesting a meeting with Trump’s “knowledge and consent.”
Parnas apparently played a part in the firing U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovich who balked at Trump’s demand for an investigation of the Bidens.
Trump has denied any wrongdoing and ridiculed Democrats’ impeachment efforts.
This is the third time in the country’s 244-year history a U.S. president has been impeached and targeted for removal from office.
Andrew Johnson in 1868 and Bill Clinton in 1998 were both impeached by the House but acquitted in Senate trials. President Richard Nixon resigned in 1974 in the face of certain impeachment in a political corruption scandal.
The Republican-controlled Senate is widely expected to acquit Trump, particularly since no Republicans have expressed support for removing him from office.
A two-thirds vote in the 100-member Senate would be needed to convict Trump to remove him from office. At least 20 Republicans would need to turn against Trump for a conviction, if all 47 Democrats voted against the president. A handful of Republicans have criticized Trump’s Ukraine actions, but none has called for his conviction and removal from office.
Trump released the military aid to Ukraine in September without Zelenskiy opening the investigation of Biden, his son Hunter’s work for the Ukrainian gas company and a debunked conspiracy theory that Ukraine meddled in the 2016 election to undermine Trump’s campaign. Republicans say releasing the aid is proof Trump did not engage in a reciprocal quid pro quo deal with Ukraine — the military aid in exchange for the investigations.