(SKY NEWS) – Democrats have unveiled two impeachment charges against US President Donald Trump.
The American leader is charged with abuse of power and obstruction of Congress in a process that could ultimately lead to him being removed from office.
Announcing the charges in Washington DC, Jerrold Nadler, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, said Mr Trump was accused of “high crimes and misdemeanours”.
“No one, not even the president, is above the law,” he said.
“He endangers our democracy. He endangers our national security.
“Our next election is at risk… that is why we must act now.”
Mr Nadler said his committee will meet later this week to consider the articles of impeachment and make a recommendation to the full House of Representatives.
The charges stem from Mr Trump’s alleged pressure on Ukraine to announce investigations of his political rivals as he withheld aid to the country.
The US president is accused of requesting that Ukraine launch an investigation targeting former vice president Joe Biden, a front-runner to win the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination and Mr Trump’s possible future rival for the White House.
After the charges were announced on Tuesday, Mr Trump tweeted “WITCH HUNT!” and said it was “ridiculous” and “not true” to say he pressured Ukraine to interfere in the 2020 election.
Mr Trump is only the fourth US president in history to face impeachment.
The Democratic-controlled House of Representatives is expected to vote on the charges, or articles of impeachment, next week.
It is almost certain to vote to impeach the Republican president, setting the stage for a dramatic trial in the Republican-controlled Senate, likely to begin in January.
Mr Trump refused to take part in impeachment hearings in the House of Representatives but the White House said on Tuesday that he would address the two “baseless” charges during the US Senate trial phase of the proceedings.
“The president will address these false charges in the Senate and expects to be fully exonerated, because he did
nothing wrong,” White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham said.
Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi said announcing the charges was a “solemn act”.
Asked if she had enough votes to impeach the president, Ms Pelosi said she would let politicians vote with their conscience.
“On an issue like this, we don’t count the votes. People will just make their voices known on it,” she said.
“I haven’t counted votes, nor will I.”