Pelosi announces formal impeachment inquiry into Trump
House takes action over claims US president tried to pressure Ukraine into investigating Biden
The House of Representatives is to launch an impeachment inquiry into Donald Trump amid allegations the US president asked Ukraine’s president to investigate unproven claims of corruption against political rival Joe Biden and his son.
Following a meeting of House Democrats on Capitol Hill, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced the first stage in a formal impeachment process would begin – a remarkable about-turn for Ms Pelosi who has avoided talk of impeachment in recent months.
“I’m announcing the House of Representatives is moving forward with an official impeachment inquiry,” she said. “The president must be held accountable. No one is above the law.”
She said the actions taken to date by Mr Trump had “seriously violated the constitution”.
Mr Trump’s actions were a “betrayal of the president’s oath” and a “betrayal of national security” she said. “This week the president has admitted to asking the president of Ukraine to take action that would benefit him politically.”
Mr Trump is reported to have raised the issue during a phone call with Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelensky on July 25th. But he denied any wrongdoing. He conceded that he delayed the disbursement of $400 million (€362m) in military aid for Ukraine, but said this was not a quid pro quo to pressure Ukraine to investigate the former vice-president.
Mr Biden is the frontrunner for the Democratic nomination in next year’s general election.
The dramatic development came despite Mr Trump announcing that he would release the full transcript of his phone call with Mr Zelensky. The US senate also voted on Tuesday to recommend that information provided by an anonymous whistleblower at the centre of the controversy should be released to congressional committees.
While Tuesday’s announcement marked the start of the impeachment process, a two-thirds majority is needed in the Republican-controlled Senate to remove the president.
The Republican leader in the House of Representatives Kevin McCarthy said he did not back the inquiry.
“Speaker Pelosi happens to be the Speaker of this House, but she does not speak for America when it comes to this issue,” he told reporters. “She cannot unilaterally decide we’re in an impeachment inquiry.” – Additional reporting: Reuters