The US House of Representatives will launch a formal impeachment inquiry into US President Donald Trump over reports he sought foreign help to smear a political rival, setting up a dramatic clash between Congress and the White House that has spilled into the 2020 presidential campaign.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced the inquiry on Tuesday after a closed-door meeting with Democratic lawmakers, saying Trump’s actions appeared to have undermined national security and violated the US Constitution.
“The president must be held accountable. No one is above the law,” said Pelosi, who for months had been reluctant to embrace an impeachment effort.
Trump fired back quickly on Twitter, calling the inquiry “Witch Hunt garbage”.
Pelosi’s change of heart followed reports that Trump had pressured Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy in a July 25 phone call to investigate Democratic presidential front-runner Joe Biden and his son.
Trump promised on Tuesday to release a transcript of his phone call. He has acknowledged he discussed Biden in the call, but denied he withheld nearly $US400 million ($A588 million) in US aid to Ukraine as leverage to get Zelenskiy to launch a probe that would damage Biden, who leads opinion polls in the Democratic race to face Trump in the November 2020 election.
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Pelosi said the six congressional committees currently investigating Trump would continue with their probes as part of the inquiry.