Democrats pass package of ground rules for impeachment probe

WASHINGTON (AP) — For only the fourth time in U.S. history, the House of Representatives has started a presidential impeachment inquiry. House committees are trying to determine if President Donald Trump violated his oath of office by asking a foreign country to investigate a political opponent.

A quick summary of the latest news:

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

— Democrats pushed a package of ground rules for their impeachment inquiry through a sharply divided House Thursday, the chamber’s first formal vote in a fight that could stretch into the 2020 election year.

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— A former top White House official testified Thursday in the House impeachment inquiry that he saw nothing illegal in President Donald Trump’s phone call with the Ukrainian president that is at the center of the Democrat-led investigation.

— Only two Democrats broke ranks Thursday to oppose the House resolution that sets ground rules for the impeachment inquiry: freshman Rep. Jeff Van Drew of New Jersey and 15-term veteran Rep. Collin Peterson of Minnesota. They complained that the process so far has been overly partisan and is further dividing the country.

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WHAT’S NEXT

Robert Blair, assistant to the president and senior adviser to Acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney is scheduled for a deposition Friday.

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NUMBERS THAT MATTER

In the first House vote focusing on impeachment, two Democrats broke ranks and voted against the measure. Both represent districts won by Trump in 2016: Peterson of Minnesota’s 7th District, where Trump won by nearly 31 percentage points; and Van Drew of New Jersey’s 2nd District, which Trump carried by nearly five points.

Explore the House vote and which presidential candidate carried each district in 2016 with this online tool:

http://apne.ws/TJ9E5Gi

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WORTH WATCHING

An AP-produced video outlines how a Senate trial would proceed if the House approves articles of impeachment against the president:

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