The speaker of the United States House of Representatives has launched an official impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump.
Nancy Pelosi made the announcement Tuesday after meeting with House Democratic Party leaders.
The investigation will seek to learn whether Trump sought a foreign government's help with his 2020 re-election effort. That question centers on a telephone call Trump had with Ukraine’s leader in late July. Media reports have said that Trump asked President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate Democratic Party presidential candidate Joe Biden and his son, Hunter.
Speaker Pelosi said such a request would mark a "betrayal of his oath of office." She added, "No one is above the law."
The younger Biden served on the board of directors of the Ukrainian gas company Burisma Holdings. He started working there in April 2014. Two months earlier, Ukraine’s pro-Russian president was removed from office.
Joe Biden, who was vice president at the time, was involved in efforts to help the new pro-western government and its promise to fight corruption.
The Associated Press reports there is no evidence of wrongdoing by the former vice president or his son.
Biden has been leading the Democratic presidential nomination race and is a possible opponent to Trump in the 2020 election.
Trump said he would soon release the complete transcript of his telephone call with Zelensky, which took place in July. But Pelosi and other Democrats say there is much more to the reports against Trump than just a telephone call.
Trump has confirmed he told his staff to withhold about $400 million in aid to Ukraine days before the July phone call. Democrats want to know whether Trump used the aid to pressure Zelensky into investigating the Bidens.
"You will see it was a very friendly and totally appropriate call,” Trump wrote on Twitter Tuesday. He called the inquiry a “witch hunt.”
Last week, news reports said that an unidentified member of the national intelligence community expressed concern to its inspector general about actions by the Trump administration. It is now know that such actions included Trump's phone call with Zelensky.
The person described their concern as "serious" and "urgent."
But the acting National Intelligence director has refused to provide the inspector's report to Congress, as U.S. law requires.
VOA asked the Ukrainian president about the recent reports. He declined to comment other than saying, "We have an independent country. We're ready for everything."
Zelensky plans to meet with Trump on Wednesday during the United Nations General Assembly in New York. He said he believes his talks with Trump will be "very warm."
I’m Caty Weaver.
The Associated Press reported this story. Caty Weaver adapted it for VOA Learning English. Ashley Thompson was the editor.
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Words in This Story
inquiry - n. a request for information
oath - n. a formal and serious promise to tell the truth or to do something
transcript - n. a written, printed, or typed copy of words that have been spoken
appropriate - adj. right or suited for some purpose or situation
witch hunt – n. the act of unfairly looking for and punishing people who are accused of having opinions that are believed to be dangerous or evil