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Democrats start Trump impeachment probe

By HENG WEILI in New York and ZHAO HUANXIN in Washington | China Daily Global | Updated: 2019-09-26 06:00
Nancy Pelosi. [Photo/IC]

Republican president calls US House's drive 'positive', yet tweets with fury

Democrats made their move against US President Donald Trump on Tuesday, as Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced that the House of Representatives will open an impeachment inquiry over a phone call Trump had with Ukraine's president in which former vice-president Joe Biden and his son were reportedly discussed.

"The actions taken to date by the president have seriously violated the Constitution," Pelosi said after meeting with House Democrats at the Capitol. "The president must be held accountable. No one is above the law."

The phone conversation was reported to be included in a whistleblower complaint that the Trump administration has not turned over to Congress, although a news report on Tuesday said the White House would release it.

The impeachment probe will center on whether Trump sought help from a foreign government in his bid for reelection next year. Biden is now a leading contender for the Democratic presidential nomination.

While Trump admits that he discussed Biden with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy in the July 25 phone call, he has focused instead on alleging that Biden tried to halt a Ukrainian probe of Burisma Holdings, a natural gas company. Biden's son, Hunter, served on Burisma's board of directors from 2014 to 2019.

Trump, who was meeting with world leaders at the United Nations on Tuesday, said the impending inquiry would be a "positive for me".

Shortly after Pelosi's announcement, Trump took to Twitter to respond. "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!" he tweeted.

"PRESIDENTIAL HARASSMENT!"

"They never even saw the transcript of the call..."

"Secretary of State Pompeo received permission from Ukraine Government to release the transcript of the telephone call I had with their President. They don't know either what the big deal is. A total Witch Hunt Scam by the Democrats!"

Trump said a "complete, fully declassified and unredacted" transcript of the phone call would be released on Wednesday.

The president also confirmed he had withheld nearly $400 million in US aid to Ukraine but denied he did so to get Zelenskiy to initiate an investigation that could damage Biden politically.

Trump said the transcript would show the call was "totally appropriate" and that there had been no "quid pro quo" for US aid in exchange for a probe.

The US Senate, by a 100-0 vote, passed a nonbinding resolution on Tuesday urging the administration to release the whistleblower complaint.

"We know that the executive branch is blocking the legislative branch, a coequal branch of our government, from performing its constitutional oversight duties," Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York said. "The fact that the whistleblower complaint concerns our national security, our foreign policy, and potential misconduct by the president makes the situation even more serious."

Later on Tuesday, the Politico news website, citing a senior Trump administration official, reported that the White House would release the whistleblower report to Congress by the end of the week.

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