Congress will begin an inquiry into whether President Donald Trump should be impeached over his alleged efforts to push the Ukrainian government into investigating one of his rivals.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat, announced Tuesday she is directing the House to formally begin the inquiry into the Republican president over the allegations that Trump has tried to coerce the Ukrainians to investigate Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden.
"The actions taken to date by the president have seriously violated the constitution," Pelosi said in a short afternoon address after a long meeting with other Democratic House members. Trump also may have broken the law by preventing an intelligence official from giving information to Congress on the matter.
"The president must be held accountable," Pelosi said. "No one is above the law."
Trump on Tuesday called the effort "a witch hunt," and said Democrats were grasping at straws because he says they can't beat him at the ballot box in 2020.
U.S. stocks closed lower on Tuesday after news that Pelosi planned to make the announcement.
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!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 24, 2019
Something Trump said on a phone call with the Ukrainian leader — it’s not clear exactly what — is the subject of a whistleblower complaint by a member of the U.S. intelligence community. Congress has demanded to know the details of that complaint, but so far the intelligence community’s inspector general has declined to give details.
Trump has approved the release on Wednesday of an unedited transcript of the July phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
Trump Denies Wrongdoing
Trump denied earlier this week on Twitter that there was anything wrong about his phone call.
Pelosi said earlier Tuesday, though, that Congress still wants the full whistleblower complaint — and that keeping it from members of Congress is against the law.
Democratic legislators increasingly this week have argued Trump should be investigated for possible impeachment as more and more reports have come out about Trump’s alleged effort to pressure Ukraine into investigating his political opponent.
Pelosi has until now been reluctant to entertain pushes from some in her party to impeach Trump over other issues going back to allegations of Russian interference in the 2016 election.
Pelosi said six committees that have already been investigating various matters involving the White House will continue their work and begin work on the impeachment inquiry.
The House Judiciary Committee is expected to lead the inquiry, according to The Wall Street Journal. That committee is already investigating questions around whether Trump may have obstructed justice in the effort to investigate whether Russia interfered on his behalf in the 2016 election, which Trump has denied.
If the House does vote to impeach Trump, the question would go to the Republican-controlled Senate, which would be unlikely to vote to convict a president from within its own party.
President Donald Trump in New York City on Monday, Sept. 23. White House photo by Shealah Craighead.
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