WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump on Friday praised his Republican defenders in Congress as “warriors” as a Democratic-led House panel prepared to take historic votes on two articles of impeachment against him for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.
The House Judiciary Committee is scheduled to resume deliberations at 10 a.m. following an abrupt halt late Thursday night. The full House is expected to vote to impeach Trump next week, though Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, has said there is “no chance” his chamber will vote to remove him from office.
At the heart of the Democrats’ case is the allegation that Trump tried to leverage a White House meeting and military aid, sought by Ukraine to combat Russian military aggression, to pressure Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to launch an investigation of former vice president Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden, as well as a probe of an unfounded theory that Kyiv conspired with Democrats to interfere in the 2016 presidential election.
The House Judiciary Committee had planned to vote on the articles of impeachment Thursday night, but after more than 14 hours of debate, Democrats decided before midnight to hold off on the history-making vote until the light of day.
Thursday’s all-day debate ended as it began, with angry exchanges, personal insults and recycled arguments about process and propriety as the committee moved toward voting to impeach Trump for “high crimes and misdemeanors.”
Congress has impeached only two presidents: Andrew Johnson in 1868 and Bill Clinton in 1998. President Richard Nixon resigned in 1974 before the House could vote on articles of impeachment in the Watergate scandal. Lawmakers drafted three articles against Nixon, including charges of “high crimes and misdemeanors” that mirror the abuse-of-power and obstruction allegations Trump now faces.
In a burst of early morning tweets, Trump praised the performance of Republicans on the House committee.
“The Republicans House members were fantastic yesterday,” he tweeted. “It always helps to have a much better case, in fact the Dems have no case at all, but the unity & sheer brilliance of these Republican warriors, all of them, was a beautiful sight to see. Dems had no answers and wanted out!”
In another tweet, Trump claimed that poll numbers “have gone through the roof in favor of No Impeachment especially with Swing States and Independents in Swing States.”
It was not clear what polls Trump was citing. Two national polls released this week showed a bare majority opposed to ousting Trump from office.
Forty-five percent of Americans say that Trump should be impeached and removed from office, while 50 percent disagree, according to a Monmouth University poll.
A Quinnipiac University poll showed that 45 percent of registered voters say Trump should be impeached and removed, while 51 percent say he should not be.
Some other recent polls have shown a somewhat different picture.
An Economist-YouGov poll released this week, for example, showed that 44 percent of Americans support the Senate removing Trump if he is impeached by the House, while 40% are opposed.
In his tweets, Trump also repeated a claim that his job approval stands at 95% among fellow Republicans. That claim is not supported by any public polling.
Meanwhile, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-California, released a video Friday highlighting former House Republicans who have spoken out against Trump’s conduct toward Ukraine.
“Former Republican House members know the oaths they took,” the two-minute video says as it opens. “Why don’t today’s Republicans?’
It features news clips of Charlie Dent of Pennsylvania, Joe Scarborough of Florida, David Jolly of Florida, Bob Inglis of South Carolina and Justin Amash of Michigan. (Unlike the others, Amash remains in Congress, having changed his affiliation from Republican to independent in July.)
Among the clips highlighted is Inglis suggesting a double standard in Republican minds between Trump and President Barack Obama.
“I just ask my Republican friends, if Barack Obama had done any of these things, would we have impeached him?” Inglis asks. “And the answer’s pretty clearly yes. In fact, we would have impeached him and removed him from office very quickly if he’d done any of these things. So it’s important in a republic to keep in mind that you’ve got to follow principles. . . . You can’t just decide that, oh no, for our team, we have a different rule.”