A Democratic-controlled U.S. House of Representatives committee approved charges of abuse of power and obstruction against Republican President Donald Trump on Friday, making it almost certain he will become the third U.S. president in history to be impeached.
The House Judiciary Committee voted 23-17 along party lines to approve an article of impeachment charging Trump with abusing the power of his office to pressure Ukraine to investigate a possible rival in the 2020 presidential election, Democrat Joe Biden.
The panel also backed a second article by the same margin charging Trump with obstructing Congress' investigation of the scandal.
The full House, where the Democrats hold a majority, is likely to approve the charges next week, completing the impeachment process and sending the matter to the Senate for trial within weeks.
But the Republican-led chamber is unlikely to vote to find the president guilty and remove him from office.
In raucous hearings, Republicans have defended Trump and accused Democrats of pursuing a politically-motivated farce, while Democrats have accused the president of violating his oath of office, jeopardizing national security and undermining the integrity of the 2020 election by pressuring Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy in a July phone call to investigate Biden.
The abuse of power charge also accuses Trump of freezing nearly $400 million in U.S. security aid to Ukraine and withholding a possible White House meeting unless Zelenskiy publicly announced investigations of Biden and his son Hunter, who was on the board of a Ukrainian gas company.
Trump also asked Ukraine to investigate a debunked theory that Ukraine, not Russia, interfered in the 2016 U.S. election.
The obstruction charge accuses the president of impeding the House's efforts to investigate the scandal by instructing current and former members of his administration not to cooperate with the impeachment inquiry.