At least 175 lawmakers arecalling for a formal impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump over claims that he sought political help from Ukraine.
During a telephone conversation with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on July 25, Trump reportedly asked his counterpart to investigate the son of Joe Biden, former US vice-president.
Biden, who was the deputy of Barrack Obama, has indicated interest in running against Trump in 2020.
According to a Ukrainian whistleblower, Trump held back hundreds of millions of dollars worth of aid to Ukraine in an attempt to pressure its leader to investigate Joe Biden, and his son Hunter Biden, who once worked for a Ukrainian gas company.
Trump has acknowledged discussing Biden with Zelensky but said he was only trying to get Europe to step up assistance by threatening to withhold military aid.
While announcing the impeachment inquiry on Tuesday, Nancy Pelosi, speaker of the US house of representatives, said the president “must be held accountable”.
Pelosi said Trump had committed “a violation of the law”, and 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.
Biden has backed impeachment proceedings being pushed by Democrats, saying it is a good option if the president did not comply with investigations.
“Impeaching Mr Trump would be a tragedy but a tragedy of his making,” he said.
In a series of tweets, Trump said Democrats “purposely had to ruin and demean his trip to the UN with more breaking news Witch Hunt garbage”.
“They never even saw the transcript of the call. A total Witch Hunt!”
He has promised to release a transcript of his conversation with Ukraine’s president to show it was “totally appropriate”.
In his response, Kevin McCarthy, Republican leader at the house of representatives, 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.”
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