Trump abused power, US House to draft impeachment charges against him: Nancy Pelosi

Reuters Washington, United States Dec 05, 2019, 07.50 PM(IST)

Nancy Pelosi. Photograph:( Reuters )

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'The president's actions have seriously violated the constitution,' Pelosi told reporters.

US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Thursday said she has instructed the House Judiciary panel to draft articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump.

"The president's actions have seriously violated the constitution," Pelosi told reporters.

US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi made a statement early Thursday on the status of the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump, one day after the House Judiciary Committee began weighing potential charges against the Republican president.

The Democratic-led panel on Wednesday heard from four legal experts as US lawmakers considered whether Trump's efforts to pressure Ukraine to investigate a political rival rose to the level of impeachable offenses.

The hearing came after the House Intelligence panel this week submitted findings from its inquiry into Trump's push for Kiev to launch an investigation related to former US Vice President Joe Biden, a top contender for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination. He also wanted Ukraine to look into the discredited theory that Ukraine, not Russia, meddled in the 2016 election.

Democrats have accused Trump of abusing his power by withholding $391 million in security aid to Ukraine - a US ally facing Russian aggression - to pressure Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to announce the investigation.

Trump has denied any wrongdoing.

The House may vote by year's end on formal impeachment charges known as articles of impeachment, but Democrats, who control the chamber, say no decision has been made at this point on the specific charges.

Those charges could include abuse of power, bribery, obstruction of Congress and obstruction of justice.

Judiciary panel Democrats on Wednesday also said they may look beyond Trump's relations with Ukraine to include Trump's earlier alleged efforts to impede former US Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into his 2016 campaign's relations with Russia, but they stopped short of saying that could trigger a separate charge.

If the House votes to impeach Trump, the Republican-led Senate would hold a trial to decide whether to remove the president from office.

Trump's fellow Republicans in both the House and the Senate have stood by the president.

"If it does come to us, I think it will be along party lines," Republican Senator Rand Paul told Fox News in an interview on Thursday, adding that the "frivolous and partisan" effort could harm vulnerable Democrats in the November election.