House Democrats unveil two articles of impeachment against Trump

Crowd at Trump's Pennsylvania rally

The charges, if approved by the House of Representatives in a vote expected next week, would make Trump only the third US president to be impeached and placed on trial in the Senate.

Ridge said he is leaving it up to Congress as to whether Trump should be impeached.

House Democrats announced two articles of impeachment Tuesday against the president for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

If the House of Representatives Judiciary Committee votes to approve the articles later this week, they will then be submitted to the lower chamber for a full vote. The committee vote is likely to fall along strict party lines, with all 24 Democratic lawmakers voting for impeachment and all 17 Republicans supporting Trump and opposing his impeachment.

If, following the hearings, the House of Representatives votes to pass articles of impeachment, the Senate is forced to hold a trial.

The impeachment process was launched after an anonymous whistleblower complained to Congress in September about a July phone call by Mr Trump to the president of Ukraine.

The U.S. leader boasted of his own political skills in handling the crisis at a political rally Tuesday night in Pennsylvania, a key state in next year's election.

Another freshman Democrat, Rep. Dean Phillips, told CNN this week that he plans to support the articles of impeachment. "A regular president would have been under the table, thumb in mouth, saying 'take me home, Mommy, this is too tough for me'". The full House is expected to vote by Christmas.

Only two USA presidents in history - Bill Clinton and Andrew Johnson - have been impeached, but neither was convicted. He was previously undecided on whether he'd vote to impeach the president.

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"They will have to come up in all likelihood after a trial is finished in the Senate", he said.

A copy of a page of the Articles of Impeachment is seen in Washington, Dec. 10, 2019.

Democrats accuse Trump of abusing power by withholding aid to Ukraine, a vulnerable USA ally facing Russian aggression, as well as dangling a possible White House meeting to get Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to launch the investigation.

Impeachment "is an extraordinary remedy and one I have been reluctant to recommend", but the president's conduct "left us no choice". Hunter Biden joined the board of a Ukrainian energy company when his father was President Obama's deputy.

"Even this week the president's lawyer was back in Ukraine seeking to revive the debunked conspiracy theory promoted at the president's behest".

He insists he has done "nothing wrong" and dismissed the process as "madness".

It is only the fourth time in the 243-year history of the United States that impeachment charges have been brought against an American leader.

President Richard Nixon resigned before he could be impeached. "He consistently puts himself above the country".

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