A U.S. House committee is scheduled to vote on charges against President Donald Trump on Friday, setting up a likely showdown by the full House of Representatives next week that could make Trump the third president in U.S. history to be impeached.
The House Judiciary Committee had been expected to cast its impeachment vote Thursday night. But as debate stretched toward midnight, the panel’s Democratic chairman delayed the proceedings until 10 a.m. ET (1500 GMT) Friday, further incensing Republicans after hours of rancorous debate.
“The American people deserve to see the vote,” House Judiciary Democrat Mary Gay Scanlon said after the change.
The move pushed the panel’s review of the charges against Trump into a third day following heated debate along party lines as Democrats sought to defend their case that the Republican president’s handling of Ukraine – and his refusal to cooperate with lawmakers’ efforts to investigate it – were an abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.
Republicans on the committee stood by the president and lashed out at Democrats as Trump sent a blitz of tweets and retweets highlighting his supporters’ defense.
“The Republicans House members were fantastic yesterday,” Trump tweeted early Friday morning, adding that “the unity & sheer brilliance of these Republican warriors, all of them, was a beautiful sight to see.”
Much of the impeachment focus has been on a July 25 phone call in which Trump asked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to investigate Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and his son Hunter, who was on the board of a Ukrainian gas company. That is the basis for a charge by Democrats that Trump abused power.
Trump has also instructed current and former members of his administration not to testify or produce documents, leading senior officials like Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to defy House subpoenas. Democrats say that behavior constitutes obstruction of Congress, forming the basis of the other impeachment charge.
Trump denies any wrongdoing and has condemned the impeachment inquiry as unfair. His Republican allies in Congress argue that there is no direct evidence of misconduct and that Democrats have conducted an improper process that did not give the president an opportunity to mount his own defense.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, in an early morning tweet on Friday, accused House Republicans of abandoning their oath to protect and defend the nation, releasing a video of former Republican lawmakers criticizing current congressional Republicans for defending Trump’s actions.