United States Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Wednesday announced a formal impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump, after months of resisting pressure for such proceedings to be held.

Her announcement came amid allegations that Trump abused his powers as president to seek foreign help to be reelected. Pelosi charged him with betraying his oath of office and the nation’s security by attempting to use a foreign power to tarnish a rival.

“Today, I am announcing the House of Representatives moving forward with an official impeachment inquiry,” she said in a brief address at the Capitol, CNN reported. “The President must be held accountable. No one is above the law. Actions taken to date by the President have seriously violated the Constitution.”

She said that Trump this week had admitted to asking Ukraine’s president to “take actions which would benefit him politically”. “The actions of the Trump presidency revealed the dishonourable fact of the President’s betrayal of his oath of office, betrayal of our national security and betrayal of the integrity of our elections.”

The US is due to elect a new president by November 2020, and this adds deep uncertainty to the race for the White House.

According to the allegations, Trump put pressure on the Ukrainian president to open an investigation into Joe Biden, a leading contender for the Democratic presidential nomination, and his son. Trump also told his advisers to freeze millions in military aid to Ukraine, adding to speculation that he held back money for information on his rival, AP reported.

Trump’s defense: “PRESIDENTIAL HARRASSMENT!” He called it a “total Witch Hunt Scam by the Democrats” on “such an important day at the United Nations”. He also said he has authorised the release of a transcript of his call with the Ukraine president, claiming there was no wrongdoing.

In July, the House had voted to set aside an impeachment resolution against Trump after he targeted four Democratic Congresswomen of colour. The House had voted 332 to 95 to set aside the measure. At the time, Speaker Nancy Pelosi tried to restrain Democrats from initiating the impeachment process against Trump. She said a House Judiciary Committee should first investigate whether Trump had colluded with Russia in its meddling in the 2016 presidential election and whether he had obstructed Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of the matter in the same before impeachment could be considered.

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