Trump impeachment inquiry: Why is the US President in trouble over a phone call to the Ukraine leader, and what happens next?

Reuters, Associated Press

The Democratic Party says Donald Trump abused his power after he asked Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate his political rival, Joe Biden

Reuters, Associated Press |

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Trump is being investigated over a July 25 phone call with the President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky.

Democrats in the US have begun a formal impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump. They are accusing Trump of bullying a foreign power for his own gain.

Nancy Pelosi, head of the House of Representatives, began the inquiry last Wednesday.

She and other Democrats want to look into a phone call between Trump and the President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky.

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During the call, Trump asked Zelensky to investigate Democrat Joe Biden – Trump’s biggest rival in the 2020 presidential elections – over claims of corruption that have already been widely debunked.

The phone call was flagged in a formal complaint by a whistle-blower – thought to be a CIA agent.

There is also a White House transcript of the call, which took place on July 25. It shows that Trump pressed Zelensky to investigate Biden and his son, who worked for a company owned by a Ukrainian oligarch.

Protesters calling for Trump to be impeached camped outside the White House last week.
Photo: AP

Democrats say Trump wanted Ukraine to begin the investigation to try and damage Biden’s reputation ahead of the elections.

According to the transcript, Trump said: “I would like for you to do us a favour”.

The call came just after the Trump administration had delayed giving military funds to Ukraine.

Trump said last Thursday that he had done nothing wrong. “My call was perfect,” he told reporters.

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His supporters say that Democrats just don’t want their top presidential candidate to be investigated.

Yesterday, Democrats demanded that Trump’s personal lawyer, who also asked Ukranian officials to investigate Biden, to hand over all records of his communication.

Impeachment is a way of prosecuting people whose power goes above the law. But it is very difficult to impeach a president. It has only happened twice before in the US, and in both cases, the president ending up staying in power. It can be hard to prove beyond reasonable doubt that a president has acted illegally because they have a lot of people protecting them.

During the call, Trump asked Zelensky to investigate Democrat Joe Biden – Trump’s biggest rival in the 2020 presidential elections – over claims of corruption that have already been widely debunked.