What are the articles of impeachment Trump may face?

US President Donald Trump delivers remarks during a meeting, on Dec 9, 2019. PHOTO: REUTERS

WASHINGTON (REUTERS) - The US House Judiciary Committee is expected to vote as soon as this week to recommend formal impeachment charges against President Donald Trump ahead of a full vote by the Democratic-led House of Representatives possibly next week.

If impeached, as expected, Mr Trump would face a trial in the Senate, which is controlled by his own Republican Party.

Here are some charges Mr Trump might face:

BRIBERY

Democrats launched an investigation in September focused on Mr Trump's request for Ukraine to conduct investigations that might benefit him politically and harm former vice-president Joe Biden, a leading contender for the Democratic nomination in the November 2020 presidential election.

Trump administration officials told public congressional hearings that the White House held up nearly US$400 million (S$543.95 million) in security aid to Ukraine to pressure its president to announce the investigations Mr Trump wanted.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi framed Mr Trump's conduct as bribery during a Nov 14 news conference after weeks of rank-and-file Democrats referring to Mr Trump's conduct as a "quid pro quo", Latin for an exchange of favours.

"The bribe is to grant or withhold military assistance in return for a public statement of a fake investigation into the elections," Ms Pelosi said. "That's bribery."

There is an obvious appeal to framing Mr Trump's conduct as bribery, legal experts say: Not only is it an easy concept to grasp, but it is also one of two impeachable offences specifically mentioned in the US Constitution.

The Constitution states that a president can be impeached for "treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanours".

Mr Barry Berke, a lawyer for the Judiciary Committee's Democrats, on Monday signalled a potential retreat from describing Mr Trump's conduct as bribery.

During a public hearing, Mr Berke instead repeatedly referred to Mr Trump's behaviour as an abuse of power.

ABUSE OF POWER

Some legal experts have argued that rather than charge Mr Trump with bribery based on his Ukraine dealings, House Democrats should frame his conduct more broadly as abuse of power like Mr Berke did on Monday.

Political bribery is a narrowly defined crime under US law, and Mr Trump's fellow Republicans are likely to argue that Democrats cannot prove that Mr Trump committed that offence.

Many legal experts have said impeachment is a political process, not a court proceeding, and that House Democrats are not required to adopt the definition of bribery in the US criminal code.

CONTEMPT OF CONGRESS

House Democrats have argued that Mr Trump obstructed their impeachment investigation by refusing to provide documents and instructing top advisers and government officials not to testify.

The White House has argued that the Constitution does not require senior presidential advisers to appear for compelled testimony before Congress.

A judge rejected that argument on Nov 25 in a dispute over a subpoena issued to former White House counsel Don McGahn.

OBSTRUCTION OF JUSTICE

Some House Democrats have sought to focus narrowly on Ukraine; others have argued that Mr Trump should also be impeached based on a 448-page report completed in March by former Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

Mr Mueller detailed Russian interference in the 2016 election, through a campaign of hacking and propaganda, as well as contacts between Mr Trump's campaign and Moscow.

Mr Mueller's report, released in redacted form in April, cited about 10 instances in which Mr Trump acted to impede the investigation.

Mr Mueller did not exonerate Mr Trump of obstruction of justice, though Attorney-General William Barr, a Trump appointee, afterwards decided that the President had not committed obstruction.

Both Mr Trump and Russia deny meddling in that election.

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