House votes to intensify impeachment investigation
The Democratic-led US House of Representatives Judiciary Committee yesterday voted to intensify its investigation of Republican President Donald Trump as lawmakers edged closer to deciding whether to recommend his impeachment.
The 41-member panel adopted a resolution allowing it to designate hearings as impeachment proceedings, subject witnesses to more aggressive questioning and quicken the pace of an investigation that is expanding into areas that could prove politically explosive for both Mr Trump and Congress.
"With these new procedures, we will begin next week an aggressive series of hearings investigating allegations of corruption, obstruction and abuse of power against the president," House Judiciary Committee chairman Jerrold Nadler told reporters after the 24-17 vote.
A more aggressive probe could also increase pressure on House Democratic leaders including Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who has resisted impeachment as a politically risky step for moderate Democratic freshmen from swing districts where ousting Mr Trump is an unpopular idea.
Republicans rejected the notion that the panel was pursuing an impeachment inquiry and dismissed the resolution as a "fantasy" intended to distract from Democrats' unwillingness to authorise a formal impeachment inquiry.
"Democrats have never gotten over the fact that I won the Election very fairly," Trump said in a statement posted to his Facebook page hours after the vote. "If they go down the path of impeachment they will be dividing the nation! So ridiculous to even be talking about this subject when all of the crimes were committed by the other side," the president said.
Republicans said Democrats lacked the votes to obtain formal house authorisation and denounced yesterday's action as a show intended to pander to Democratic voters who want Mr Trump removed from office.