Democrats have unveiled charges against US President Donald Trump. Picture: AP
Democrats have unveiled charges against US President Donald Trump. Picture: AP

Dems unveil charges against Trump

Democrats have formally charged US President Donald Trump with two counts of "high crimes and misdemeanours", setting the stage for a Senate impeachment trial for only the third time in American history.

Mr Trump was charged with abuse of power and obstruction of Congress in two articles of impeachment laid early Tuesday, local time, (1am Wednesday AEDT).

Democrats accuse the President of using his position to pressure his Ukraine counterpart to investigate his political rivals, which they described as a "clear and present danger" to national security and to next year's election.

The articles stopped short of the also impeachable "bribery", a charge which Democrats had spent the past 70 days trying to buttress through several inquiries in the House of Representatives.

A vote in the Democrat-controlled House to proceed with impeachment is now likely in coming days ahead of a trial in the Republican-controlled Senate early in the new year.

 

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi described the announcement as a "solemn duty".

Judiciary Committee chair Jerry Nadler said Mr Trump was being charged because of his "efforts to solicit foreign interference in the 2020 election, efforts that compromised our national security and threatened the integrity of our elections".

"Throughout this inquiry he has attempted to conceal the evidence from Congress and from the American people," he said.

 

Mr Nadler said a president "holds the ultimate public trust".

"When he betrays that trust and puts himself before country he endangers the constitution, he endangers our democracy and he endangers our national security," Mr Nadler said.

He argued that the framers of the constitution offered impeachment as a "clear remedy for presidents who so violate their oath of office".

"It is an impeachable offence for the President to exercise the powers of his public office to obtain an improper personal benefit while ignoring or injuring the national interest," Mr Nadler said.

"That is exactly what President Trump did when he solicited and pressured Ukraine to interfere in our 2020 presidential election."

He said the second count of obstruction of Congress was being laid because he claimed Mr Trump had refused to cooperate with the investigation, saying he was "a president who sees himself above the law".

"We must be clear, no one not even the president, is above the law," he said.

 

 

Mrs Pelosi earlier said the House vote would be one of conscience, and it is widely considered likely to proceed.

"On an issue like this, we don't count the votes. People will just make their voices known on it," Mrs Pelosi said on Monday night.

"I haven't counted votes, nor will I."

The White House has so far refused to take part in House proceedings, focussing their attention on the anticipated Senate trial.

At least 20 Republicans would need to cross the floor to find the President guilty, which is considered unlikely at this stage.

The announcement on Tuesday followed a contentious House debate on Monday where the partisan nature of the proceedings continued to play out.

Republican Doug Collins of Georgia said Democrats were racing to force impeachment through on a "clock and a calendar" ahead of the 2020 presidential election.

"They can't get over the fact that Donald Trump is the president of the United States, and they don't have a candidate that can beat him," Mr Collins said.

Mr Trump is accused of pressuring his counterpart in Ukraine to investigate his political rival in return for hundreds of millions of dollars in military aid and a sought after White House meeting for the country's newly installed leader, President Volodymyr Zelensky.

 

 

Mr Trump has denied any wrongdoing and his supporters say it was appropriate for the President and his representatives to push Ukraine to investigate the son of leading 2020 Democrat presidential candidate Joe Biden.

Mr Biden was Barack Obama's vice president and led the US relationship with Ukraine at the same time his son Hunter held a highly paid position on the board of an energy company there, which was found to be corrupt.

 

 

 

 

 

 



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