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Trump's impeachment fight gets real after Pelosi's announcement

Speaker Pelosi: The president abused his power for his own personal political benefit at the expense of the country

WASHINGTON : US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi said yesterday she has directed a House committee to draft articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump over his effort to pressure Ukraine to investigate a political rival, a historic step that sets up a fight over whether to oust him from office.

"The president abused his power for his own personal political benefit at the expense of our national security by withholding military aid and (a) crucial Oval Office meeting in exchange for an announcement of an investigation into his political rival," Ms Pelosi said in a televised statement.

The impeachment fight undertaken by House Democrats is unfolding even as the Republican president is running for re-election in 2020.

"Sadly, but with confidence and humility, with allegiance to our Founders and our hearts full of love for America, today I am asking our chairman to proceed with articles of impeachment," she added, referring to House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler.

Ms Pelosi made the remarks a day after the Judiciary Committee held a hearing in which three constitutional law experts called by Democratic lawmakers said Mr Trump had engaged in conduct that represents impeachable offences under the Constitution.

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A fourth expert called by Republican lawmakers described the Democratic-led impeachment inquiry as rushed and flawed.

Articles of impeachment represent formal charges against Mr Trump and would originate in the Judiciary Committee before going to the full House.

If the Democratic-led House passes articles of impeachment as expected, that would lead to a trial in the Senate on whether to convict Mr Trump of those charges and remove him from office.

Republicans control the Senate and have shown little support for Mr Trump's removal.

White House spokesman Stephanie Grisham said on Twitter that Ms Pelosi and other Democrats "should be ashamed" adding that Mr Trump "has done nothing but lead our country - resulting in a booming economy, more jobs & a stronger military, to name just a few of his major accomplishments. We look forward to a fair trial in the Senate".

The House Intelligence Committee this week submitted findings from its inquiry into Mr 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.

Mr Trump also asked Ukraine to look into the discredited theory promoted by the president and his allies that Ukraine, not Russia, meddled in the 2016 US election. Mr Trump has denied any wrongdoing and called the impeachment investigation a hoax. - REUTERS

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