Trump news: Speaker of the United States House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi launches impeachment inquiry into Donald Trump over allegation that he delayed Ukraine Aid to damage a Political Rival.
If the inquiry moves forward the House of Representatives will vote on any charges and, with the Democrats in the majority, the vote would likely be carried making Mr Trump the third president in US history to have been impeached.
Top Democrat Nancy Pelosi said the president “must be held accountable”.
Mr Trump has denied wrongdoing and called the efforts a “witch hunt”.
There is strong support from House Democrats for impeachment, but the proceedings would be unlikely to pass the Republican-controlled Senate.
The high-stakes move by House Speaker Ms Pelosi, prompted by allegations that Mr Trump pressured the Ukrainian president to investigate his leading political rival Joe Biden, lays the groundwork for a potentially hugely consequential confrontation between Democrats and the president ahead of the 2020 election.
But the proceedings would likely then stall in the Senate, where the president’s Republican Party holds enough seats to prevent him from being removed from office by a two-thirds majority.
Ms Pelosi did not provide any timeline for how the process might play out.
Senior Democrats including Ms Pelosi had previously resisted growing calls from within the party to begin impeachment proceedings. But the party’s leadership united on the issue after an intelligence whistleblower lodged a formal complaint about one or more phone calls between President Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
The Trump administration has so far refused to release the whistleblower complaint to Congress but Democrats say Mr Trump threatened to withhold military aid to Ukraine unless Mr Zelensky agreed to investigate unsubstantiated corruption allegations against Mr Trump’s leading political rival Joe Biden and his son Hunter.
Mr Trump has admitted discussing Joe Biden with Mr Zelensky. He has denied that he exerted pressure on the Ukrainian president to investigate his political rival.
On Tuesday, Mr Trump confirmed that military aid from Ukraine had been withheld but said he had done this to try and pressure European nations to increase their contributions to the country.
Two presidents have been impeached in US history – Andrew Johnson in 1868, and Bill Clinton in 1998. But neither were removed from office by a Senate trial.
Richard Nixon resigned in August 1974 before he could be impeached.
In a statement on Tuesday she said Mr Trump had betrayed his oath of office and committed “a violation of the law”. She called his actions “a breach of his constitutional responsibilities”.
“This week the president has admitted to asking the president of Ukraine to take action that would benefit him politically,” she said, adding: “The president must be held accountable. No-one is above the law.”
I am currently at the United Nations representing our Country, but have authorized the release tomorrow of the complete, fully declassified and unredacted transcript of my phone conversation with President Zelensky of Ukraine….
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 24, 2019
In a series of tweets Mr Trump said Democrats “purposely had to ruin and demean” his trip to the UN in New York “with more breaking news Witch Hunt garbage”.
“They never even saw the transcript of the call. A total Witch Hunt!” he added.
In his response to the Democrats‘ move, House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy said: “Speaker Pelosi happens to be the Speaker of this House, but she does not speak for America when it comes to this issue.”
“She cannot unilaterally decide we’re in an impeachment inquiry,” he added.
Trump news: Trump admits he delayed Ukraine aid but he claims it was not connected to Biden.