Democratic Nancy Pelosi, president of the United States House of Representatives, announced on Tuesday (24/09) a request to open impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump.
The request is the first concrete step among Democrats' various attempts to start a process of impeding the president, Republican, since the beginning of his term.
The last straw for the Democratic Party movement – which has a majority in the House – was a telephone call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
The conversation, whose audio or transcript has not yet been made public, was revealed last week by a report by the Wall Street Journal.
In the July dialogue, Trump reportedly asked his Ukrainian counterpart to investigate Joe Biden, the leading Democratic candidate in the 2020 election race, and his son, Hunter Biden, who sits on the board of a Ukrainian gas company.
In return, according to an informant whose identity has not been revealed, Trump would have promised "some benefit" to the Ukrainian leader, possibly US military aid to the country.
For Democrats, the conversation exposes an incitement to foreign interference in the 2020 elections. Biden himself said on Tuesday that he favored Trump's impeachment over the case.
Another important point of the crisis is that the Trump administration was trying to prevent the informant's complaint from being handed over to Congress, even though intelligence officials called it "urgent." Under US law, such a complaint must be shared by the authorities with Congress within a maximum of seven days.
On Friday 20, Trump commented on the report – calling it "ridiculous" and ensuring that his conversations with foreign leaders are always "totally appropriate".
Two days later, on Sunday, he told the press that his July 25 telephone call to Zelensky was "congratulatory" – but added that he mentioned "the fact that we don't want our people, like Vice President Biden and his son, increasing the corruption that already exists in Ukraine ". The Republican insisted he did "absolutely nothing wrong".
On Tuesday, amid the start of the UN General Assembly debate session, Trump commented on the case on Twitter.
"I am currently at the United Nations representing our country, but have authorized the release tomorrow (Wednesday) of the complete, completely declassified and unedited transcript of my telephone conversation with President Zelensky of Ukraine …"
"You will see that it was a very nice and totally appropriate call. No pressure, and unlike Joe Biden and his son, NO quid pro quo (Latin expression that means something like 'swap one thing for another'). This is nothing more than the continuation of the Biggest and Most Destructive Hunt Ever! "he added.
The Biden Family Business
However, while posing a risk to Trump, the case is also tricky for Democrats. This is because of the longstanding accusations of conflicts of interest involving the Biden family's business in exteroir.
Hunter Biden became a board member of the Ukrainian natural gas company Burisma in 2014, when his father was still vice president in the Barack Obama administration.
At the time, the Biden business was under scrutiny, just as Ukraine was in turmoil – a pro-Russian government had been overthrown in the country.
In 2016, Joe Biden pressured the Ukrainian government to fire his attorney general Viktor Shokin, whose subordinates had been investigating the owner of the Burisma. Trump and his allies accuse Biden of acting to protect his son.
At the same time, several Western governments had been pushing for the exit of Shokin, considered a drag on anti-corruption efforts.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told ABC broadcaster that "if Biden behaved inappropriately, protected his son and intervened corruptly, we must investigate thoroughly."
The Ukraine side
Trump and Zelensky will meet in person for the first time on Wednesday (25) during the UN General Assembly meeting in New York.
For now, the Ukrainian leader and his team have been silent about the crisis.
According to Jonah Fisher, a BBC News correspondent in Kiev, the president "is well aware of the dangers of being sucked into US electoral politics, of being seen taking sides in an election campaign that could be between Trump next year. and Biden. It remains to be seen whether this (silent) approach will resist the New York meeting. "
Fisher points out that the Trump administration is likely to expect Zelensky to make some kind of statement by denying the charges against the American or saying it will "analyze" Biden conduct – which in turn would allow the White House to keep the spotlight on the business of the son of the Democratic pre-candidate.
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