Democrats have moved closer to impeaching Republican US President Donald Trump, as members of a House of Representatives committee debated formal charges that are likely to be sent to the full House for a final vote next week.
The outcome in the House Judiciary Committee is essentially a fait accompli, with the majority-Democratic panel expected to reject all Republican efforts to change the articles and approve the charges, sending them to the entire House of Representatives for passage next week.
On Wednesday, committee members began the two-day process to consider the articles of impeachment against the president.
Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., pushed against his Republican colleagues' arguments that President Donald Trump was trying to combat corruption in Ukraine when he asked the country's president to investigate 2020 presidential candidate and former vice president Joe Biden and his son, Hunter.
Trump and Ukrainian officials have denied the claims and the aid was released to Ukraine without any investigations being carried out.
The first article accuses Trump of withholding US military aid and a White House meeting from Ukraine in an attempt to pressure that nation to investigate his political rivals.
Most indications are that the Republican majority in the Senate will ultimately protect Trump from conviction and removal.
Trump is also accused of obstructing Congress when lawmakers tried to investigate the matter.
It names nine officials who Trump directed not to comply with House subpoenas for testimony preventing investigators from obtaining a full picture of Trump's actions.
"No crime!" the U.S. president said on Twitter early on Thursday.
Democrats noted that Republicans were not addressing the substance of the charges against Trump.
However, the U.S. president denies any wrongdoing and condemned the impeachment enquiry as a hoax. "I don't have any desire to call the Vice President".
"I would submit that given the definition of "treason, bribery and other high crimes and misdemeanours" that does not mean that policy differences should be enough to remove a president from office", Sensenbrenner said.
The first term congresswoman from Georgia's 6th Congressional District said that after participating in the hearings she has concluded that Trump's actions were in violation of the constitution. Democrat Eric Swalwell called it a "constitutional crime spree".
"If the president can first abuse his power and then stonewall all congressional requests for information, Congress cannot fulfil its duty to act as a check and balance against the executive (branch) - and the president becomes a dictator", Representative Jerrold Nadler, the Democratic chairman of the Judiciary panel, said in opening remarks.
American public opinion is split.
"I believe the president abused the power of his office, putting his own interest above the needs of our nation", McBath said.
"House Democrats announced they would rush ahead and prepare to send the articles of impeachment based on the least thorough and most unfair impeachment inquiry in modern history", McConnell said from the Senate floor.
"It seems like we live in an alternate reality with Republicans here who say that if it swims and quacks like a duck it's a piano", Lofgren said.
"It's not just because they don't like the president", Representative Jim Jordan, a Republican from the US Midwest said of Democrats. "People will vote the way they vote", she said. All of us in flyover country.
How the trial might proceed remains to be seen.
If the House approves the charges, a trial would be the Senate's "first order of business in January", Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said on the Senate floor on Wednesday.
Senate Republicans and the White House had been "going back and forth" over whether to call witnesses, a White House legislative aide told Al Jazeera after meeting privately with Republicans.