WASHINGTON -- A House Judiciary Committee impeachment hearing opened Monday with shouting matches that reflected the deep partisan divide as House Democrats moved toward a likely full House vote to impeach President Donald Trump as early as next week.
Democrats say Trump's campaign to get Ukraine's president to investigate a potential 2020 Democratic rival and a debunked theory about Ukrainian interference in the 2016 election, while withholding nearly $400 million in congressionally mandated security aid and a promised White House meeting, constitutes an impeachable offense.
Democrats are likely to also seek an article of impeachment for Trump's refusal to honor subpoenas, and his instructions to aides not to cooperate. Democrats are weighing whether to also include parts of the special counsel investigation that concluded in the spring.
Rep. Jerrold Nadler, a New York Democrat and chairman of the Judiciary Committee, said in his opening remarks that the framers of the Constitution included impeachment for just such a situation.
"They warned us against the dangers of would-be monarchs, fake populists, charismatic demagogues. They knew that the most dangerous threat to the country may come from within, in the form of a corrupt executive who put his private interests above the interests of the nation," Nadler told the panel.
"President Trump put himself before country," Nadler said. "The integrity of our next election is at stake. Nothing could be more urgent."
Republicans have dismissed the inquiry as a partisan effort to overturn the 2016 election and influence the 2020 election. They say Trump acted properly by withholding U.S. aid because he was concerned about corruption in Ukraine.
Rep. Doug Collins of Georgia, the senior Republican on the committee, called it "a farce."
"Where's the impeachable offense? Why are we here?" he said.
Collins called the hearing a waste of time because House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., already called for articles of impeachment.