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Democrats approve two articles of impeachment against Trump in Judiciary vote

Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee approved two articles of impeachment Friday that charge President TrumpDonald TrumpCaitlyn Jenner says election was not 'stolen,' calls Biden 'our president' Overnight Health Care: FDA authorizes Pfizer vaccine for adolescents | Biden administration reverses limits on LGBTQ health protections Overnight Defense: US fires 30 warning shots at Iranian boats | Kabul attack heightens fears of Afghan women's fates | Democratic Party leaders push Biden on rejoining Iran deal MORE with high crimes and misdemeanors, setting up a historic House vote next week that all but guarantees Trump will be just the third president to be impeached in U.S. history.

The articles, which charge Trump with abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, were passed out of the committee along strict party lines, with 23 Democrats voting to send the measures to the full House, which is expected to approve them next week. One Democrat, Rep. Ted LieuTed W. LieuDemocrats, activists blast Trump DOJ effort to get journalists' phone records Lawmakers praise Biden for expected recognition of Armenian Genocide Overnight Defense: Top Pentagon nominee advances after Harris casts tie-breaker | Air Force general charged with sexual assault first to face court-martial | House passes bill to limit Saudi arms sales MORE (D-Calif.), was absent after undergoing an unexpected medical procedure earlier in the week. 

All 17 panel Republicans, meanwhile, united against both articles, arguing that the charges rested on thin evidence and that Democrats proceeding with their rapid impeachment push will set a dangerous precedent in the years ahead.

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The votes come two days after the panel began its debate and the morning after Democrats enraged Republicans by abruptly canceling an expected vote that would have taken place very late Thursday night or early Friday morning. 

“That was the most egregious violation of trust between a committee chairman and ranking member I think I’ve ever seen,” said Rep. Doug CollinsDouglas (Doug) Allen CollinsPoll shows tight GOP primary for Georgia governor The Hill's Morning Report - Census winners and losers; House GOP huddles Former Rep. Doug Collins won't enter Georgia Senate race MORE (Ga.), the top Republican on Judiciary, who said “there was no discussion” about the change of plans.

“We thought we were going to do votes tonight," said Collins, who called the impeachment markups a “kangaroo court" and argued that Democrats wanted more television time for the proceedings. 

Democrats signaled that they wanted to prevent Republicans from arguing they had approved the articles of impeachment in the dead of night and when no Americans were watching. 

“We felt like they wanted us to pass this in the middle of the night, so we felt the American people deserved to see this historic vote. And it should be passed in the daylight and not in the middle of the night,” a Democratic aide said.

The partisan vote came after more than 14 hours of feisty debate on Thursday over a series of Republican amendments seeking to scrub Democrats’ impeachment articles that raised allegations about Trump’s contacts with Ukraine.

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In comparison to that slog, Friday's votes were lightening fast: Nadler introduced them, one by one, shortly after 10 a.m., and he gaveled the hearing closed less than 10 minutes later. Almost no one spoke, except to cast their yea or nay vote.

Afterwards, Democrats hailed the development as a case of Congress protecting the country from an inherently corrupt president who had put his personal political interests above those of national security.

"It'll be remembered as a day that certain people stood up for the Constitution and the founding fathers," said Rep. Steve CohenStephen (Steve) Ira CohenLobbying world Buttigieg charms Washington with his accessibility Chris Christie joins board of New York Mets MORE (D-Tenn.).

Republicans were equally as passionate that Trump, rather than doing the abusing, had been abused. They accused the Democrats of rushing the process — before gathering all the facts and hearing from the first-hand players — to fit a pre-conceived conclusion that Trump should be removed.

"America needs to hear from the witnesses," said Rep. Louis Gohmert (R-Texas), referring to the process as "a kangaroo court."

"They don't have the right to abuse the process and this was a total abuse of process."

The White House dismissed Friday's committee vote, saying Trump looks forward to a "fair" trial in the GOP-controlled Senate.

"This desperate charade of an impeachment inquiry in the House Judiciary Committee has reached its shameful end," White House press secretary Stephanie GrishamStephanie GrishamKayleigh McEnany joins Fox News as co-host of 'Outnumbered' Melania Trump says she was 'disappointed and disheartened' watching Capitol riots Trump resignations gaining steam MORE said in a statement issued shortly after the vote. "The President looks forward to receiving in the Senate the fair treatment and due process which continues to be disgracefully denied to him by the House."
 
Democrats allege Trump used a White House meeting and nearly $400 million in U.S. aid to Kyiv as leverage to get Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to open two investigations that would benefit him politically, including one into the son of his 2020 political rival, former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenCaitlyn Jenner says election was not 'stolen,' calls Biden 'our president' Manchin, Biden huddle amid talk of breaking up T package Overnight Energy: 5 takeaways from the Colonial Pipeline attack | Colonial aims to 'substantially' restore pipeline operations by end of week | Three questions about Biden's conservation goals MORE. They also accused him of obstructing Congress during their subsequent investigation of that episode.

They say such conduct rises to the level of high crimes and misdemeanors — the grounds for impeachment under the Constitution — and that leaving a lawless president in office threatens the very basis of American democracy.

Republicans fought back in defense of their White House ally.

Rep. Jim JordanJames (Jim) Daniel JordanJordan says 'votes are there' to oust Cheney from GOP leadership Republicans float support for antitrust reform after Trump Facebook ban upheld Facebook board decision on Trump ban pleases no one MORE (R-Ohio) offered an amendment Thursday to gut the abuse of power charge, arguing that there could be no “quid pro quo” since the U.S. aid was ultimately delivered without Kyiv announcing the investigations Trump sought. 

“This amendment strikes article one because article one ignores the truth,” he said. 

Rep. Matt GaetzMatthew (Matt) GaetzGOP braces for wild week with momentous vote Gaetz, Greene tout push to oust Cheney: 'Maybe we're the leaders' Rural community leaders call on Gaetz, Greene to 'stop dividing America' ahead of US tour MORE (R-Fla.) offered another amendment to add language characterizing Burisma Holdings, the Ukrainian energy company that employed Hunter Biden, as “a well-known corrupt company” — a provision designed to frame Trump’s investigation requests as valid anti-corruption efforts, not political bullying.

"There is no way in the United States of America that honestly pursuing political corruption is a political offense,” Gaetz said. 

Democrats argued otherwise.

“The idea of Donald Trump leading an anti-corruption effort is like Kim Jong UnKim Jong UnNorth Korea has much to consider — when, and if, talks resume Pompeo on CIA recruitment: We can't risk national security to appease 'liberal, woke agenda' Ted Cruz rips new 'Humans of CIA' video: 'We've come a long way from Jason Bourne' MORE leading a human rights effort. It’s just not credible,” said Rep. David CicillineDavid CicillineRepublicans float support for antitrust reform after Trump Facebook ban upheld Washington keeps close eye as Apple antitrust fight goes to court Hillicon Valley: Facebook, Twitter, YouTube execs to testify at Senate hearing on algorithms | Five big players to watch in Big Tech's antitrust fight MORE (D-R.I.), the head of Democrats’ messaging arm.

Aside from their amendments, Republicans also raised repeated objections that the process was unfair, including claims that Democrats ignored their request for a minority witness hearing.

“You should have run for a chairmanship, I believe, more than to be a rubber stamp for Mr. Schiff and Ms. Pelosi,” said Rep. Doug Collins (Ga.), senior Republican on the committee, referring to the Speaker and Rep. Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffFree Speech Inc.: The Democratic Party finds a new but shaky faith in corporate free speech Trump backs Stefanik to replace Cheney Gender politics hound GOP in Cheney drama MORE (D-Calif.), the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee. 

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Collins added that the rights of the minority party on the panel are "dead" moving forward.

The GOP protests were largely symbolic, as the majority Democrats easily shot them all down. But Republicans sought to put up a fight against the articles, using the introduction of multiple amendments to reassert their arguments in defense of the president.

The markup began the night before, with opening statements from the more than 40 members of the Judiciary panel — a 3 1/2-hour meeting notable for the absence of outbursts and other dramatic flourishes. Day two on Thursday was a much different beast, running for 14 hours and quickly devolving into ugly personal barbs as Republicans directed their scrutiny at Hunter Biden and Democrats responded by blowing their own fire at the GOP members themselves.

When Gaetz began reading a New Yorker profile on Hunter Biden detailing alleged drug abuse, Rep. Hank JohnsonHenry (Hank) C. JohnsonBottom line Schumer waiting for recommendation on Supreme Court expansion Democrats seek Barrett's recusal from case tied to conservative backers MORE (D-Ga.) responded with a thinly veiled punch back. 

"It's a little hard to believe that Burisma hired Hunter Biden to resolve their international dispute when he could not resolve his own dispute with Hertz rental car over leaving cocaine and a crack pipe in the car," Gaetz had said before Johnson's comment. 

“The pot calling the kettle black is not something we should do,” Johnson said. “I don't know which members, if any, have had any problems with substance abuse [or] been busted in DUI. But if I did, I wouldn't raise it on this committee. I don’t think it’s proper,” Johnson said, appearing to reference Gaetz’s past driving under the influence charge.

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Next week’s impeachment vote will be part of a packed House calendar, as Democratic leaders are also hoping to pass two other big-ticket items just before leaving town for the two week holiday break: a revamped trade agreement with Canada and Mexico and a sweeping spending bill to prevent a government shutdown. 

A House leadership aide said Thursday that the tentative schedule is to vote on the spending bill Tuesday, impeachment Wednesday and trade on Thursday. That timetable, while subject to change, opens up the possibility that the House could recess a day earlier than previously scheduled.

Updated at 10:58 a.m.