The public impeachment hearings against US President Donald Trump began in the US House of Representatives on Wednesday, with the president being accused by his opponents of abusing his power.
At the end of the hearing process the House will vote whether or not to impeach, or formally accuse Trump. If he is impeached he will be tried in the Senate, which can vote to remove him from office.
Trump would be only the third president to be impeached in US history. If the Senate votes to acquit him, the president would serve out the remainder of his first term until next year's presidential election.
Trump continued to criticise the impeachment hearings against him. ‘A total Impeachment Scam by the Do Nothing Democrats!’ Trump said on Twitter.
‘Why is such a focus put on 2nd and 3rd hand witnesses, many of whom are Never Trumpers, or whose lawyers are Never Trumpers, when all you have to do is read the phone call (transcript) with the Ukrainian President and see firsthand’ Trump said in another tweet.
Opposition Democrats accuse Trump of abusing his power as president by withholding military aid from Ukraine to pressure its president to conduct an investigation into former US Vice President Joe Biden's activities in Ukraine.
Biden is a leading contender for the Democratic nomination to face Trump in the 2020 election. Democrats accuse Trump of asking for the investigation to hurt his political rival and ‘interfere’ in the election.
But Trump's Republican Party argues that Ukraine received the military aid and there was no Ukrainian investigation into Biden. Ukraine's president says he was not pressured by Trump.
Furthermore, Republicans say there are serious grounds for Biden to be investigated.
Biden was the point man for the Obama administration on Ukraine policy before and after an uprising overthrew Ukrainian President Victor Yanukovych in 2014.
Two months after the ouster, Biden's son landed a job on the board of Ukraine's biggest natural gas producer.
Biden was videotaped at a conference at the Council on Foreign Relations in 2018 saying he threatened to withhold $1 billion in US aid if Ukraine did not fire a prosecutor who was intending to investigate the gas producer on which Biden's son was a board member.
Knowledge of the alleged quid-pro-quo between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky was revealed this summer by a whistle-blower who worked at the White House and heard about a phone conversation between Trump and the Ukrainian president in which the alleged pressure was applied by Trump. The whistle-blower has been identified as an officer of the Central Intelligence Agency, fuelling criticism from Republicans that it is an intelligence agency operation to try to remove Trump from office.
The Trump Department of Justice has opened a criminal investigation against members of the Obama administration's Justice Department and the FBI into allegations that the department worked to prevent Trump from becoming president in 2016.
Only two US presidents in history have been impeached--Andrew Johnson in 1868 and Bill Clinton in 1998. Neither president was convicted by the Senate. (QNA)
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