KONFRONTASI-Pushing ahead with articles of impeachment, the House Judiciary Committee convenes on Monday to formally receive the investigative findings against President Donald Trump as the White House and its allies launch an aggressive attack on Democrats and the proceedings.
Chairman Jerrold Nadler expects the committee to vote soon, possibly this week, on at least two or more charges against the Republican president.
Democrats say Trump's push to have Ukraine investigate rival Joe Biden while at the same time withholding US military aid ran counter to US policy and benefitted Russia. It could result in impeachment charges of abuse of power, bribery and obstruction.
"The central allegation is that the president put himself above his country several times, that he sought foreign interference in our elections several times, both for 2016 and 2020, that he sought to cover it up," Nadler said.
"All this presents a pattern that poses a real and present danger to the integrity of the next election, which is one reason why we can't just wait for the next election to settle matters," he said.
The hearing sets off a pivotal week as Democrats march towards a full House vote expected by Christmas. In drafting the articles of impeachment, Speaker Nancy Pelosi is facing a legal and political challenge of balancing the views of her majority while hitting the constitution's bar of "treason, bribery or other high crimes and misdemeanours".
Trump and his allies acknowledge he will likely be impeached in the Democratic-controlled House, but they also expect acquittal next year in the Senate, where Republicans have the majority. Trump's team is turning its attention elsewhere, including Monday's release of a long-awaited Justice Department report into the 2016 Russia investigation.
"Impeachment Hearing Hoax," Trump tweeted on Sunday.
The White House is refusing to participate in the process it calls a sham and the top Republican on the panel, Representative Doug Collins of Georgia asked to postpone the hearing, criticising Democrats for moving too swiftly. One legal scholar testified last week it would be the quickest impeachment in modern history.
"This is just how desperately they are - desperately focused on impeaching this president," said Collins, who accused Democrats of unleashing thousands of pages of documents his side has no time to review before the session. "This is a show. This is a farce. This is whatever you want to call it. The American people are having their tax dollars wasted on this impeachment of this president."
Trump tweeted on Sunday, "IG report out tomorrow. That will be the big story!"Trump is heading out for campaign rallies, shifting attention from the House. Over the weekend, the president focused on a related matter, the Justice Department inspector general's findings into the FBI's decisions to investigate Russian interference in the 2016 election. The president has long called special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia probe a "witch-hunt," but the inspector general's report is expected to reject the president's claim that it was illegitimate, according to people familiar with its findings.