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WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 24: U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) announced a formal impeachment inquiry today after allegations that President Donald Trump sought to pressure the president of Ukraine to investigate leading Democratic presidential contender, former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, which was the subject of a reported whistle-blower complaint that the Trump administration has withheld from Congress. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 24: U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) announced a formal impeachment inquiry today after allegations that President Donald Trump sought to pressure the president of Ukraine to investigate leading Democratic presidential…

Speaker Nancy Pelosi announces impeachment inquiry

President Donald Trump “must be held accountable. No one is above the law," said Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi as she announced a formal impeachment…

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On Tuesday, Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced that the House of Representatives will officially begin a formal impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump.

Following months of hesitation about moving forward with impeachment action, the House Democrats have finally achieved a common ground to address what they called Trump’s flagrant misconduct and unconstitutional behavior that is documented in an official whistleblower complaint from a national intelligence officer that was filed on Aug. 12.

According to recent reports, that have been in part verified by Trump's own public admissions, the complaint details a phone conversation Trump had with the president of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky, on July 25 in which he allegedly asked President Zelensky for damaging information about Democratic presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden. 

After a meeting at Capitol Hill, Pelosi addressed the nation, saying, “The actions taken to date by the president have seriously violated the Constitution.” The speaker of the House had previously been wary of bringing forth an impeachment inquiry, despite the calls for urgent action on the part of some Democrats in the House. 

What does impeachment mean?

According to the United States Senate, if a federal official commits a crime or acts improperly, the House of Representatives may formally press charges. If convicted in a Senate impeachment trial, the official will be removed from the office.

Until now, the only presidents in U.S. history that have been subject to the impeachment process are President Andrew Johnson in 1868, and President Bill Clinton in 1998. Both impeachment trials did not result in the removal of the president from office. 

The formal impeachment inquiry, announced by Pelosi, is the basis for forming a committee to discern whether there is evidence to draft articles of impeachment. If those articles are passed in the House, the Senate then must hold a trial. A two-thirds vote in favor of impeachment on one or more of the articles of impeachment is needed in the Senate to approve impeachment and remove the president from office. 

Reactions

President Donald Trump reacted to the impeachment inquiry announcement on Tuesday by sending out a series of tweets accusing Democrats of "a witch hunt." 

...And "presidential harassment." 

Other Republicans countered the announcement, arguing that the Democrats should have waited until the transcript of the phone call with Ukrainian President Zelensky is released tomorrow, as President Trump has promised to do. 

On the other side of the aisle, Democrats spoke out in support of the inquiry and were, for the first time, united in their calls for an impeachment inquiry of the president. 

The next step in the process will be in the hands of the House committee, which will be formed to investigate evidence for articles of impeachment that will be referred to the House of Representatives. 

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