Donald Trump's impeachment moves a step closer

An impeachment inquiry which could see Donald Trump kicked out of the White House has moved one step closer after a key vote was passed.

The US Congress’s lower chamber, the House of Representatives – commonly known as the House – voted Thursday to approve ground rules for the impeachment probe.

Representatives voted 232-196 in favor of the rules, which centre around the hearing being open and the questioning of witnesses.

All House Republicans voted against impeaching Trump, with two rebel Democrats also joining their ranks.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi  – one of the President’s most vocal critics, backed the vote by saying: ‘This is something that is very solemn, that is something prayerful. What is at stake in all this is nothing less than our democracy.’

Meanwhile, House GOP (Republican) leader Steve Scalise condemned Thursday’s vote and accused Democrats of imposing ‘Soviet-style rules.’

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, a California Republican, accused Democrats of trying to oust Trump using dirty tricks ‘because they are scared they cannot defeat him at the ballot box.’

Impeachment hearings are set to take place next year, while Trump campaigns to be re-elected in a November 2020 presidential election.

The President faces the disciplinary hearing over claims he tried to persuade the Ukrainian government to investigate the son of potential rival Joe Biden.

He is said to have done so during a July phone call with the country’s President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Trump has been accused of using a potential $400million aid package as leverage to start an investigation into Biden’s son Hunter.

Hunter Biden has faced questions after being appointed to a well-paid post on the board of a Ukrainian natural gas firm, despite having little experience in that area.

Trump’s behavior has seen him accused of abusing his office and inviting a foreign power to interfere in US politics.

Both Trump and Biden deny all allegations of wrongdoing.

An impeachment would see the evidence against Trump, as well as defense material prepared by his own legal team, put before the US Congress.

Members of its upper House – the Senate – will then vote on whether or not Trump should be removed from office.

The House of Representatives has a majority of politicians from the opposing Democrat party.

But the upper house is filled with more Republican senators than Democrats, with Trump’s own party members seen as less likely to kick him out of office.

He is set to be the third US president in history to be impeached.

His predecessors Bill Clinton and Andrew Johnson were both acquitted of wrongdoing by the Senate, and allowed to remain in their jobs.

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