US President Donald Trump launched a frenzied Twitter attack on Democrats overnight as the party launched an official impeachment inquiry over allegations that he pressurised a foreign power to hurt rival Joe Biden.
“The actions taken to date by the President have seriously violated the Constitution,” Democrat speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi said last night.
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Trump reacted with fury on Twitter, calling it a “total Witch Hunt” and stating “PRESIDENTIAL HARASSMENT!”
House Democrats are widely believed to support impeachment, but the Republicans control the Senate, making such a move unlikely to win approval.
But if the impeachment gets passed, the House of Representatives would vote on what charges Trump should face. The Democrats’ majority could then see Trump impeached, becoming the third US president to suffer this fate.
Democrats have accused Trump of threatening to withhold military aid to Ukraine unless its president, Volodymyr Zelensky, agreed to investigate unproven corruption claims against Democrat candidate Biden and son Hunter.
The White House has so far refused to release a transcript of the call after a whistleblower lodged a formal complaint.
Trump has admitted to discussing Biden with Zelensky but denied putting any pressure on his Ukrainian counterpart to investigate his possible 2020 election rival.
“The actions of the Trump presidency revealed the dishonourable 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.
“The House of Representatives is moving forward with an official impeachment inquiry. I’m directing our six committees to proceed with their investigations under that umbrella of impeachment inquiry. The president must be held accountable. No one is above the law.”
Biden said he supports impeachment if Trump does not “stop stonewalling” Congress over the call.
“If he continues to obstruct Congress and flout the law, Donald Trump will leave Congress in my view with no choice but to initiate impeachment proceedings,” Biden told reporters yesterday.
Meanwhile Reuters reported that ex-White House staff say that the details of the phone call that prompted the impeachment inquiry are unlikely to come from from a recording or be verbatim.
Instead it could take the form of a transcript from written notes of US officials who listen in on the call.
Trump defended the call on Twitter, vowing to release an unredacted transcript to prove the call was “totally appropriate”.