House votes Wednesday to send impeachment articles to Senate

House to send articles of impeachment to Senate

WASHINGTON (AP) - The House is expected to vote Wednesday to send the articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump to the Senate.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi made the announcement Tuesday.

The action ends her blockade almost a month after the House voted to impeach Trump. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is also planning to meet privately with GOP senators on terms of the trial.

Meanwhile, pressure in mounting on senators to call fresh witnesses for the trial.

House Democrats released a trove of documents they obtained from a close associate of President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, including a handwritten note that mentions asking Ukraine’s president to investigate “the Biden case.”

The documents were obtained as part of the impeachment investigation, and show Lev Parnas communicating with Giuliani and another attorney about the removal of the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch.

Parnas received messages from a man who appeared to be describing detailed surveillance of Yovanovitch while she was in Ukraine.

The documents released Tuesday add new context to Democrats’ charges that Trump pressured Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden and other Democrats as Trump withheld military aid.

McConnell said the trial could start this week, but significant proceedings would launch next Tuesday after the holiday break.

He said all 53 GOP senators are on board with his plan to start the session and consider the issue of witnesses later.

Trump was impeached by the Democratic-led House last month on charges of abuse of power over pushing Ukraine to investigate Democratic rival Joe Biden and obstructing Congress’ probe.

Trump says he did nothing wrong.

Burisma hacked

Meanwhile, a U.S. cybersecurity company says Russian military agents successfully hacked the Ukrainian gas company at the center of the scandal that led to the impeachment.

Russian agents launched a phishing campaign in early November aimed at stealing the login credentials for employees of Burisma Holdings, the gas company, according to Area 1 Security, a Silicon Valley company that specializes in e-mail security.

It is not clear what the hackers were looking for or may have obtained, although the operation’s timing suggests that Russian agents may have been searching for material that could damage former U.S. vice president Joe Biden, whose son Hunter previously served on Burisma’s board.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell countered that there would be no “haggling” with the House over Senate procedures. As the House prepares to send the charges to the chamber, senators are still negotiating the ground rules for the historic trial.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell countered that there would be no “haggling” with the House over Senate procedures. As the House prepares to send the charges to the chamber, senators are still negotiating the ground rules for the historic trial. (Source: CNN)

All eyes on McConnell

As the president prepares for only the third impeachment trial in American history, no one may be more important to his defense than the Kentucky Republican in charge of the Senate, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

The Democratic-run House is set to transmit the articles of impeachment to the Senate in a matter of days.

McConnell faces the challenge of balancing Trump’s appetite for full vindication, accompanied by humiliation of Democrats, with a more measured trial that fits the legal expectations of the Constitution.

McConnell is also trying not to expose Senate Republicans to a spectacle that could hurt them in elections.

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