Impeachment proceedings in the United States House of Representatives picked up speed this week as the full House voted to open a new phase of public hearings in the inquiry.
At the centre of the probe is whether President Donald Trump abused the power of his office and jeopardised US national security by withholding nearly $400m in US military aid from Ukraine in exchange for an investigation into his political rival.
An intelligence community officer filed a whistle-blower complaint in August that Democrats say outlined “a shadow campaign” by Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani to side-line career US diplomats in pressuring Ukraine to open investigations of former Vice President Joe Biden and the Democrats.
So far, eight current and one former State Department officials have testified despite Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s initial assertion they would not immediately cooperate. Three White House officials and one Defense Department official and two White House National Security Council officials have testified behind closed doors to the House impeachment inquiry. More have been scheduled for next week.
Trump has repeatedly denied he did anything wrong in the phone call with Zelenskyy and characterises the House investigation as a partisan “witch-hunt”. The White House released a summary transcript of Trump’s call with Zelenskyy that the president claims showed there was “no quid pro quo” (Latin for “favour for a favour”) in the conversation.
Here are key developments from this week.
1. House to advance public impeachment hearings
In a major political development, the Democrat-led House passed a resolution on Thursday setting rules for public hearings in the House’s ongoing impeachment inquiry.
The resolution was approved by a 232-196 vote, largely along party lines with all but two Democrats voting in favour, and every Republican voting “no”. It is only the fourth time in US history that the House has formalised impeachment proceedings against a sitting US president.
The resolution provides that the Intelligence Committee will deliver a report of its investigation of Trump to the Judiciary Committee, which has authority under House precedents to recommend articles of impeachment to the full House.