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Trump to face impeachment inquiry over Ukraine calls

Pelosi announces Democrats will try to oust president over scandal

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Complaint: US President Donald Trump and wife Melania arrive for the UN General Assembly in New York. Photo: Reuters/Yana Paskova

Complaint: US President Donald Trump and wife Melania arrive for the UN General Assembly in New York. Photo: Reuters/Yana Paskova

Complaint: US President Donald Trump and wife Melania arrive for the UN General Assembly in New York. Photo: Reuters/Yana Paskova

The Democrats last night announced they will begin impeachment proceedings against Donald Trump, making him only the fourth US president in history to face the move.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi yesterday announced a formal impeachment inquiry into Mr Trump, a dramatic turnaround by the Democratic leader that sets up a constitutional and political clash pitting the Congress against the nation's chief executive.

"The actions of the Trump presidency have revealed the dishonourable fact of the president's betrayal of his oath of office, betrayal of our national security and betrayal of the integrity of our elections," Ms Pelosi said in brief remarks. "Therefore, today, I am announcing the House of Representatives is moving forward with an official impeachment inquiry."

Impeachment is a rare and extraordinary step that would overturn the decision of US voters in 2016 to elect Trump. Ms Pelosi's decision foreshadows an intensely partisan fall, triggering pushback from Trump allies with repercussions for the 2020 campaign.

"Such an important day at the United Nations, so much work and so much success, and the Democrats purposely had to ruin and demean it with more breaking news Witch Hunt garbage. So bad for our Country!" he wrote.

Ms Pelosi's change of heart comes after days of consulting allies and follows reports that Mr Trump may have pressured a foreign leader to investigate former vice president and potential 2020 campaign rival Joe Biden and his family.

Those reports over a seven-day period created a groundswell of support among Democrats for impeachment, with moderates from swing districts joining liberals in calling for an inquiry.

Mr Trump, meanwhile, said that he has authorised the release of the full transcript of his phone call with the Ukrainian president in which Mr Trump is said to have brought up investigating Mr Biden and his son.

"I am currently at the United Nations representing our Country, but have authorised the release tomorrow of the complete, fully declassified and unredacted transcript of my phone conversation with President Zelensky of Ukraine," Trump tweeted yesterday afternoon.

"You will see it was a very friendly and totally appropriate call. No pressure and, unlike Joe Biden and his son, NO quid pro quo! This is nothing more than a continuation of the Greatest and most Destructive Witch Hunt of all time!"

Trump has admitted publicly that he asked Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky to probe Mr Biden's son, who has connections to a business that was under investigation. But he said no pressure was involved. However, 'The Washington Post' has reported that Mr Trump asked his staff to put a freeze on military aid to Ukraine at least a week before he made the request to Mr Zelensky.

The House plans to vote tomorrow on a resolution disapproving of the Trump administration's efforts to block the release of the complaint and the need to protect the whistleblower.

Impeachment has only occurred twice in US history - against Presidents Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton. Neither man was removed from office. President Richard Nixon resigned rather than face a House vote on impeachment.

Even if the House votes to impeach Trump, his ouster would require a conviction in the Senate, where Republicans have rallied to the president's defence.

In the House, a tranche of Democrats who opposed impeachment have been coming out in favor of impeachment over the past 48 hours. That total that now exceeds 160 out of 235, according to a 'Washington Post' analysis.

John Lewis, an influential member in the caucus, was one of the latest Democrats to back impeachment on Tuesday. The Georgia Democrat, a staunch Trump critic and close Pelosi ally, had declined for months to weigh in on impeachment out of respect for the speaker.

"There comes a time when you have to be moved by the spirit of history to take action to protect and preserve the integrity of our nation. I believe, I truly believe, the time to begin impeachment proceedings against this president has come," Lewis said on the House floor. "To delay or to do otherwise would betray the foundation of our democracy." (©Washington Post Syndication)

Irish Independent