AN impeachment inquiry will be launched against Donald Trump, it was announced tonight – after claims he enlisted a foreign power for his political gain.
The probe – which threatens to oust the US President – will investigate whether he sought Ukraine’s help to smear ex-Vice President Joe Biden.
It will be carried out by the Democrat-led House of Representatives, whose speaker Nancy Pelosi said last night: “No one is above the law.”
She revealed the dramatic news following a meeting with her party – as pressure on Trump increased over his calls to Ukraine.
The dramatic move comes amid claims Trump withheld aid funding to Ukraine and asked its leader to probe the business activities of Biden’s son.
Biden had previously been accused of threatening to withhold aid to Ukraine unless it fired a prosecutor whose office was probing a natural gas company where his son Hunter, 49, was a board member.
However, Ukraine’s current prosecutor, Yuriy Lutsenko, said in May he had no evidence of wrongdoing by Biden or his son.
A whistle-blower alleged that Trump tried to pressure Zelensky into investigating his political opponent over the issue.
Trump insists he did nothing wrong and vowed to release a transcript of a July phone call with Zelensky.
Speaking at the UN on Tuesday, he admitted he mentioned the Biden in his call – but said it was in regards to helping keep out foreign corruption from Ukraine.
The US President said: “It couldn’t have been nicer and even the Ukrainian government put out a statement that that was a perfect call, there was no pressure put on them whatsoever.
“But there was pressure put on with respect to Joe Biden.
“What Joe Biden did for his son, that’s something they should be looking at.”
Trump said yesterday that he would authorise the release of a transcript of the conversation – but Democrats want the full whistle-blower complaint.
And responding with a flurry of angry tweets, the president said: “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!”
Naming some of his most prominent Democrat critics, Trump added: “Pelosi, Nadler, Schiff and, of course, Maxine Waters!
“Can you believe this?”
He added: “They never even saw the transcript of the call. A total Witch Hunt!”
In a final furious salvo, Trump blasted: “PRESIDENTIAL HARASSMENT!”
Pelosi’s impeachment inquiry – reminiscent of the one created in 1973 to investigate the Watergate scandal – will look at the president’s dealings with Ukraine.
It could potentially lay the groundwork for articles of impeachment to be formed.
Articles of impeachment charge that the president may be guilty of “treason, bribery or other high crimes or misdemeanours”.
Impeachment charges need a simple majority to pass the House of Representatives.
They then move to the Senate – currently controlled by Republicans – where 67 per cent of the vote is needed to find the president guilty.
If guilty, he is removed from office.
No US President has ever been removed from office by impeachment.
President Nixon resigned from office in 1974 before he could be impeached for his role in the Watergate saga.
Bill Clinton survived an attempted impeachment sparked by his affair with White House staffer Monica Lewinsky.
More to follow…
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