Trump impeachment process passes first test in divided US Congress

A deeply divided U.S. House of Representatives took a major step on Oct. 31 in the effort to impeach President Donald Trump when lawmakers approved rules for the next, more public, stage in the Democratic-led inquiry into Trump’s attempt to have Ukraine investigate a domestic political rival.

In the first formal test of support for the impeachment investigation, the Democratic-controlled House voted almost entirely along party lines – 232 to 196 – to move the probe forward in Congress.

The vote allows for public impeachment hearings in Congress, which are expected in the coming weeks, portending a bitter battle ahead as the United States heads into a presidential election year.

Democrats who accuse Trump of abusing his office and jeopardizing national security for personal political gain were almost unanimous in approving Thursday’s measure, but they did not pick up a single Republican vote.

“It’s a sad day. No one comes to Congress to impeach a president,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said before the vote.

Televised public hearings featuring U.S. officials testifying in Congress about alleged wrongdoing by Trump could crowd out other issues like the economy and immigration as voters turn their minds to the November 2020 election.