- House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced a formal impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump during a Tuesday evening press conference.
- One hundred sixty-nine out of 235 House Democrats support impeaching Trump.
- Pelosi’s reported announcement comes amid recent revelations that Trump repeatedly pressed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden over corruption allegations.
- The July phone call is at the centre of an explosive whistleblower complaint against Trump that the Office of the Director of National Intelligence is refusing to release to Congress.
- Trump has also been accused in recent days of dangling a nearly $US400 million military-aid package over Ukraine to spur Zelensky’s government to probe Trump’s chief political rival.
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House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced a formal impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump at a 5 p.m. press conference on Tuesday after an internal Democratic caucus meeting on the matter.
“Today I’m announcing the House of Representatives is moving forward with an official impeachment inquiry. I’m directing our six committees to proceed with their investigations under that umbrella of an impeachment inquiry,” Pelosi said. “The president must be held accountable. No one is above the law.”
The move comes amid recent revelations that Trump repeatedly pressed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter, over corruption allegations.
The Wall Street Journal reported last week that during a July 25 phone call, Trump asked Zelensky at least eight times to work with his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani to investigate the Bidens over their dealings in Ukraine. Biden is one of Trump’s top political rivals heading into the 2020 presidential election.
The younger Biden sat on the board of Burisma Holdings, a Ukrainian gas-extraction company, from 2014 until early this year. Trump and Giuliani accused the elder Biden of trying to stymie a criminal investigation into Burisma in 2016 by pushing the Ukrainian government to fire Viktor Shokin, the prosecutor general leading the inquiry.
While Biden did seek the prosecutor’s removal, those accusations are unsubstantiated, with government officials and Ukrainian anti-corruption advocates, in fact, saying that Shokin had hampered the investigation into Burisma long before Biden had entered the picture, according to The Journal.
“For the past several months, we have been investigating in the committees and litigating in the courts whether Congress can exercise its full Article I power, including the constitutional power of approval of articles of impeachment,” Pelosi said at the press conference.
She slammed Trump’s reported actions as having “revealed the dishonorable fact of the president’s betrayal of his oath of office, betrayal of our national security, and betrayal of the integrity of our elections.”
Trump’s phone call with Zelensky is at the centre of an explosive and unprecedented whistleblower complaint that a US intelligence official filed against the president in August.
Acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire is withholding the complaint from Congress and the public, but The Washington Post reported last week that Trump made a “promise” to Zelensky during the phone call.
On Monday, The Post also reported that Trump decided to withhold nearly $US400 million in military aid to Ukraine about a week before he spoke with Zelensky.
Trump on Sunday confirmed he discussed investigating the Bidens during the conversation with Zelensky. But he rejected the notion he dangled military aid over Ukraine to spur Zelensky’s government to investigate Biden.
However, he appeared to acknowledge this week that the aid package was at least somewhat on his mind during the call with Zelensky.
“It’s very important to talk about corruption,” Trump said on Monday. “If you don’t talk about corruption, why would you give money to a country that you think is corrupt? It’s very important that on occasion, you speak to somebody about corruption.”