US House formally begins impeachment inquiry against Donald Trump
The US House of Representatives formally started an impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump, who is accused of taking help from a foreign leader to harm a political rival. Announcing the decision on Tuesday, Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the President should be held accountable and no one is above the law. With this, the stage for a bitter political fight has been set.
So, what has Trump done?
Pelosi's historic announcement comes amid reports that Trump abused his presidential powers to get Joe Biden, former Vice President, and a Democrat Presidential candidate, investigated. In July, he apparently had a phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky seeking help to probe Biden and his son Hunter. Before he had the call with Zelensky, Trump froze $400 million in military aid for Ukraine.
What is Trump's version of the story?
On his part, Trump has denied all the accusations. He claimed he blocked aid because the US was giving more to Ukraine than other European countries. Initially, his administration blocked Congress from getting the details of the call, but later he allowed the transcript to be released. "You will see it was a very friendly and totally appropriate call," he said.
After resisting for weeks, Pelosi finally announced the proceedings
Now, Congress has initiated impeachment proceedings against a President only four times in the nation's history. In fact, Pelosi herself resisted calls for an inquiry on grounds that she didn't have public backing or GOP support. The liberal base of Democrats wasn't quite pleased with her soft stand and on Wednesday, Pelosi finally relented to the demands. She claimed Trump betrayed the "oath".
Integrity of our elections has been betrayed: Pelosi
"The actions of the Trump presidency have revealed the dishonorable fact of the president's betrayal of his oath of office, betrayal of our national security and betrayal of the integrity of our elections," Pelosi said before a background of American flags.
What will happen now?
Further, Pelosi revealed that chairpersons of six important House committees, who are already investigating Trump, will make recommendations to the House judiciary committee, which handles impeachment. These findings could aid in forming articles of impeachment brought against Trump. Pelosi promised to move "expeditiously" while underlining that this isn't a casual thing which anyone can get away with as it involves national security.
Has any US President been forced to exit office?
While it's possible that the House could vote to impeach Trump, his ouster will require a green signal from Senate, where Republicans dismissed Pelosi's move, calling it politically motivated. Only two US Presidents- Bill Clinton and Andrew Johnson have been impeached till now, but none had to exit the office. President Richard Nixon, however, resigned after impeachment proceedings were started against him.
Unsurprisingly, Trump charged at Democrats, called it harassment
Obviously, Trump wasn't happy with the series of events in Washington DC and quickly called it harassment. "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," Trump tweeted from New York where he attended the session of United Nations General Assembly.