U.S. President Donald Trump confronted two deadlines in Congress on Sunday as Democrats ready to shift the focus of their impeachment question from fact-finding to the thought of possible charges of misconduct over his dealings with Ukraine.
The Democratic-led House of Representatives Judiciary Committee, tasked with considering charges called articles of impeachment, has awarded the president till 6 pm EST (2300 GMT) on Sunday to state whether he or his legal counsel will participate in an impeachment hearing on Wednesday.
The hearing, the first in a set of proceedings expected prior to the committee, will hear testimony about the impeachment process established under the U.S. Constitution by a panel of legal experts that has not yet been named.
Hearings before the committee, which has responsibility for crafting some other formal charges from Trump, are a significant step toward possible charges. Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who will make the final choice, has not said yet whether the Republican president ought to be officially impeached. But in a letter to supporters last week, she called for him to be held accountable for his actions.
Trump has denied any wrongdoing as well as the impeachment question a witch hunt aimed at unseating a democratically elected president. The White House has not yet indicated whether it is going to take part in your House Judiciary proceedings.
House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler has set an 5 p.m. EST (2200 GMT) deadline on Friday for Trump to state whether he intends to mount a defence at further event expected next week which could examine the evidence against him.
Three exploring panels, headed by the House Intelligence Committee, are expected to release a formal proof report that week after lawmakers return to Congress on Tuesday from their Thanksgiving recess. The report will outline evidence accumulated by lawmakers on the panel, along with people on the House Foreign Affairs and Oversight committees.
Congressional investigators have been looking into whether Trump abused his power by pressuring Ukraine to establish investigations of former Democratic Vice President Joe Biden, who is running to unseat him in the 2020 presidential elections, and a discredited conspiracy theory that Ukraine, not Russia, interfered in the 2016 U.S. presidential elections.
The president and his Democratic allies in Congress say the question was unfair, since it did not allow the White House to have legal counsel present or call witnesses through weeks of closed-door open and testimony hearings before the House Intelligence Committee.
“The president may well look at this, or his counsel may well look at this, and sayWhy would we would like to have in here and legitimize this procedure, when it had been created illegitimate at the start by shutting out us” Stated Republican Representative Tom Cole.
The House Judiciary Committee could vote on whether to recommend articles of impeachment within the next two weeks, putting the point of a possible impeachment vote by the full House before Christmas, according to Democratic Party.
If the House impeaches Trump, the Republican-controlled Senate would hold a trial to determine if he should be detained and removed from office.