At least 175 lawmakers have moved for the commencement of a formal impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump over staggering claims that he sought political favours from Ukraine.
In a damning revelation by a whistleblower, Trump during a telephone conversation with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on July 25, reportedly asked his counterpart to investigate the son of Joe Biden, former US vice-president and Democrats frontrunner in the 2020 race.
According to a Ukrainian whistleblower, Trump held back hundreds of millions of dollars worth of aid to Ukraine in an attempt to pressure its leader to investigate Joe Biden, and his son Hunter Biden, who once worked for a Ukrainian gas company.
Trump has acknowledged discussing Biden with Zelensky but said he was only trying to get Europe to step up assistance by threatening to withhold military aid.
While announcing the impeachment inquiry on Tuesday, Nancy Pelosi, speaker of the US house of representatives, said the president “must be held accountable”.
Pelosi said Trump had committed “a violation of the law”, and called his actions “a breach of his constitutional responsibilities”.
“This week the president has admitted to asking the president of Ukraine to take action that would benefit him politically,” she said.
In a series of tweets, Trump lashed out at the news, saying Democrats “purposely had to ruin and demean his trip to the UN with more breaking news Witch Hunt garbage”.
“They never even saw the transcript of the call. A total Witch Hunt!”
He has promised to release a transcript of his conversation with Ukraine’s president to show it was “totally appropriate”.