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US Congress opens impeachment proceedings against Trump

Washington / The speaker of the US House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, said Tuesday that lawmakers will begin proceedings that could lead to the impeachment of President Donald Trump.

“Today I’m announcing the House of Representatives is moving forward with an official impeachment enquiry,” the California Democrat said.

Pelosi said she decided to launch the process after revelations that Trump, a Republican, urged his Ukrainian counterpart to look into former Vice President Joe Biden’s alleged interference in a probe of son Hunter Biden’s business dealings in Ukraine.

“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!,” the president tweeted from New York minutes after the speaker’s announcement.

“They never even saw the transcript of the call. A total Witch Hunt!,” Trump wrote, referring to his telephone conversation in July with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Trump concluded his tweet-storm with the phrase he coined months ago to describe special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation: “PRESIDENTIAL HARASSMENT!”

Reports began appearing in the media earlier this month about an ostensible complaint from a whistleblower inside the US intelligence community about Trump’s having allegedly made an improper promise to a foreign leader.

In a Sept. 9 notification to Congress, the inspector general for the intelligence community described the complaint as “credible” and “urgent.”

Last week, The Wall Street Journal revealed that the complaint arose from a conversation between Trump and Zelensky.

Trump, according to The Journal, pressed the Ukrainian president in the call to work with his personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, on an inquiry into Joe Biden – now seeking the Democratic 2020 presidential nomination – and his son.

Federal whistleblowing law calls for such a complaint to be sent to the congressional intelligence committees, but Joseph Maguire, the acting director of national intelligence, has so far refused to do so.

Maguire is set this week to face questioning by both the House and Senate intelligence oversight panels.

On Monday, The Washington Post reported that Trump froze nearly $400 million of US military and security aid to Ukraine about a week before he talked to Zelensky.

Trump confirmed earlier Tuesday that he did order the aid held back, but insisted it had nothing to do with his request to Zelensky regarding Biden.

“As far as withholding funds, those funds were paid.

They were fully paid. But my complaint has always been, and I’d withhold again and I’ll continue to withhold until such time as Europe and other nations contribute to Ukraine because they’re not doing it,” the president said ahead of his speech to the UN General Assembly.

The president has also acknowledged discussing Biden with the Ukrainian leader and said Tuesday that his administration would release “the complete, fully declassified and unredacted transcript” of his conversation with Zelensky.

“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 tweeted.

Pelosi, however, made it clear she didn’t see Trump’s chat with Zelensky as harmless.

“This week, the president has admitted to asking the president of Ukraine to take actions which would benefit him politically,” the California lawmaker said.

“The actions of the Trump presidency revealed dishonorable facts of the president’s betrayal of his oath of office, betrayal of national security and betrayal of the integrity of our elections.

” Pressure from the Democratic base to impeach Trump has mounted since the Democrats took control of the House following the November 2018 elections, but Pelosi had opposed the idea until now.

“The president must be held accountable. No one is above the law,” she said Tuesday.

More than 160 of the 235 Democrats in the House have publicly endorsed opening an impeachment enquiry, according to an informal media tally.

Impeachment requires the votes of a simple majority – 218 – of the 435 representatives, but the Republican-controlled Senate is viewed as extremely unlikely to convict Trump and remove him from office.

The Senate has never voted to remove a president. Two presidents, Andrew Johnson (1868) and Bill Clinton (1998) were impeached by the House but acquitted in the Senate, while Richard Nixon resigned in 1974 as the House was poised to approve articles of impeachment. (24 septiembre 2019, EFE/PracticaEspañol)

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