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In United States, Democrats laid out their case yesterday for the impeachment of Donald Trump, branding the US president a clear and present danger to national security as they prepared to issue formal charges against him.

Four months after a whistle blower sparked the investigation of Trump for seeking illicit political favours from Ukraine, Democrats said, there was abundant evidence that he had committed bribery, abused his power and obstructed the investigation.

Facing an almost certain vote in the coming weeks to make Trump the third American leader impeached and placed on trial, top Republican Doug Collins countered that the effort was simply a good PR move for Democrats ahead of next year's Presidential elections.

The allegations came in a contentious House Judiciary Committee hearing in which Republicans repeatedly punched back, while President Trump himself denounced the inquiry as a disgrace and hoax.

Fuelling the partisan divisions in Washington, the Republicans marshalled a Department of Justice report released yesterday as ammunition for a counter-offensive. The DoJ's Inspector General said its review of investigations into four Trump aides did not find evidence of political bias in the decisions to open the probes.

The report effectively rebutted Trump's repeated claims that the FBI illegally spied on his campaign - but Republicans seized on its findings that the bureau committed numerous serious factual errors related to the investigations.

Trump also pressed Kiev to investigate a widely-dismissed allegation that the Ukraine government helped the Democrats in the 2016 election. Barry Berke, an attorney for the Democrats, said there was significant proof of wrongdoing, as he laid out the evidence collected by the House Intelligence Committee in a 10-week investigation.

Democrats appear determined to push through to a full House vote on formal articles of impeachment before year end. That could see Trump stand trial in the Senate in January.

Given the solid Republican majority in the Senate and a two-thirds threshold for conviction, it is almost certain he will be acquitted.



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