Thursday 23 January 2020

Trump impeachment hearing interrupted by protester

The US Judiciary Committee is to vote soon on two or more charges of abuse of power, bribery and obstruction against US President Donald Trump.

A protester interrupts proceedings (AP/Andrew Harnik)
A protester interrupts proceedings (AP/Andrew Harnik)

By Lisa Mascaro and Mary Clare Jalonick, Associated Press

A protester has disrupted the opening of impeachment hearings into US President Donald Trump.

Judiciary Committee chairman Jerrold Nadler was interrupted by a protester shouting “we voted for Donald Trump” as the panel opened.

The protester was escorted from the House of Representatives hearing room by police.

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The protester was swiftly removed by police (AP/Alex Brandon)

Mr Nadler pressed ahead with opening remarks saying: “President Trump put himself before country.”

The committee is to vote soon, possibly this week, on two or more charges of abuse of power, bribery and obstruction against the Republican president.

Democrats say Mr Trump’s push to have Ukraine investigate rival Joe Biden while at the same time withholding US military aid contradicted US policy and benefited Russia.

The top Republican on the panel, representative Doug Collins, derided the hearing as a “sham” and said Democrats are racing to jam impeachment through on a “clock and a calendar” ahead of the 2020 presidential election.

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House Judiciary Committee chairman Jerrold Nadler, left, and Republican Doug Collins (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Mr Collins said: “For anyone not to think this was not a baked deal is not being honest with themselves. They can’t get over the fact that Donald Trump is the president of the United States and they don’t have a candidate that can beat him.”

The hearing sets off a pivotal week as Democrats march towards a full House vote expected by Christmas.

Mr Nadler said the case against Mr Trump is clear after “multiple officials testified that the president’s demand for an investigation into his rivals was a part of his personal, political agenda, and not related to the foreign policy objectives of the United States”.

He said: “The integrity of our next election is at stake.”

Mr Trump spent the weekend tweeting about the proceedings. He and and his allies acknowledge he is likely to be impeached in the Democratic-controlled House but they also expect acquittal next year in the Senate, where Republicans have a majority.

Mr Trump’s team is turning attention elsewhere, including Monday’s release of a long-awaited US Justice Department report into the 2016 Russia investigation.

“Impeachment Hearing Hoax,” Mr Trump tweeted on Sunday.

In advance of the hearing, Mr Nadler sent a letter to the White House officially forwarding the House Intelligence Committee’s report, along with additional evidence supporting impeachment. It also invited White House officials to review sensitive materials in a classified setting.

The White House is refusing to participate in the process it calls a sham, and Mr Collins asked to postpone the hearing, criticising Democrats for moving too swiftly.

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