US Politics: Trump impeachment trial clear to begin after case sent to Senate

The impeachment trial now moves on to the Senate
The impeachment trial will begin in the Senate next week
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Donald Trump's impeachment trial will begin next week, after the case was officially transmitted from the House of Representatives to the Senate. Tradefair brings you the latest...

We will cross a threshold in history - delivering articles of impeachment against the president of the United States."

- House speaker Nancy Pelosi

The US House of Representatives has officially transmitted articles of impeachment against Donald Trump to the Senate, setting in motion a trial that will decide whether the president should be removed from office.

Trump was impeached by the House last month and faces charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, which he denies.

Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell said the trial will begin on Tuesday January 21. A two-thirds majority is required to remove the president from office, which is seen as an unlikely outcome since the Senate is controlled by Trump's Republican Party.

Making history

The vote in the House of Representatives to submit the articles of impeachment to the Senate passed largely along party lines, by 228 votes to 193.

House speaker Nancy Pelosi signed copies of the articles, surrounded by the team of lawmakers from the Democratic Party who will prosecute the case against Trump.

The articles were then transferred to the Senate. McConnell confirmed they would be exhibited today (Thursday January 16) at noon, after which there would be a reading on the floor of the upper chamber of Congress.

Pelosi rejected criticism from Republicans that the Democrats had delayed the transmission of the articles. The speaker said she had spent months resisting calls for impeachment, but ultimately the president "gave us no choice".

At a press conference before the official signing, Pelosi said she and her fellow members of Congress were making history.

"When the managers walk down the hall, we will cross a threshold in history - delivering articles of impeachment against the president of the United States for abuse of power and obstruction of the House," she said.

The Republican leader in the House of Representatives, Kevin McCarthy of California, said the attempt by the Democrats to remove the president from office was based on the "weakest case".

He described the entire impeachment process as a "sad saga".

Trump 'knew what was going on'

Meanwhile, in a separate story linked to the impeachment proceedings, new claims emerged relating to Trump's knowledge of efforts to solicit help from Ukraine in discrediting one of his political rivals.

One of the key accusations against the US president is that he used the power of his office to pressure his Ukrainian counterpart, Volodymyr Zelensky, into launching a corruption investigation into Democratic presidential hopeful Joe Biden, and his son Hunter Biden.

Requesting help from a foreign government to win a presidential election is illegal in the US.

Trump has repeatedly rejected any accusations of wrongdoing, but an aide to Rudy Giuliani, the president's personal lawyer, has said Trump "knew exactly what was going on" regarding the efforts to put pressure on Ukraine.

"He was aware of all my movements. I wouldn't do anything without the consent of Rudy Giuliani or the president," Lev Parnas, a close associate of Giuliani, told MSNBC.

Parnas is facing separate criminal charges of illegal campaign finance donations. The Ukrainian-American businessman was forced to hand over letters, phone records, notes and flash drives that Democrats hope will strengthen their case against Trump in the Senate trial.

Documents show that Parnas was in regular contact with Giuliani and suggest he was directly involved in attempts to trigger a Ukrainian investigation into Biden.

President 'expects to be exonerated'

The White House responded to the transmission of the impeachment articles to the Senate with a statement saying the president "has done nothing wrong" and "expects to be fully exonerated".

Trump himself tweeted that Pelosi and House Intelligence Committee chairman Adam Schiff - described by the president as a "corrupt politician" - had not given him a fair trial in the House of Representatives.

He described the impeachment inquiry in the lower chamber as "the most lopsided and unfair basement hearing in the history of Congress".

Much of the president's activity on Twitter in recent days has focused on the latest trade negotiations between the US and China. The two countries yesterday signed an initial agreement that signals a potential end to a trade dispute that has been running for 18 months.

The completion of the phase one deal buoyed global shares, helping international stock markets stay close to the record highs seen this week.

In the US, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up by 0.3% on Wednesday, while the S&P 500 Index rose by 0.2% and the Nasdaq Composite also made marginal gains.

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