WASHINGTON: Democrats vowed on Friday to move quickly on the impeachment investigation of President Donald Trump, saying the evidence of abuse of power from his Ukraine phone call and attempts to cover up wrongdoing were already clear.

An intelligence whistleblower’s complaint showing Trump pressuring Ukraine’s president to supply dirt on election rival Joe Biden left the White House reeling and Trump doubling down with an implicit threat against witnesses to the call.

“The clarity of the president’s actions is compelling and gave us no choice but to move forward,” said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

“This is about the national security of our country: The president of the United States being disloyal to his oath of office, jeopardising our national security, and jeopardising the integrity of our elections.”

She announced that House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, who accused Trump of acting like a “mafia boss” this week, would take the lead in the investigation.

“They will take the time that they need and we won’t have the calendar be the arbiter,” she said in an interview with MSNBC. “But ... it doesn’t have to drag on.”

The fast-moving events have shaken the foundations of Trump’s presidency.

On Monday, Trump blithely swatted away a whistleblower report that alleged he sought to pressure Ukraine for information that could damage Biden, the leading democratic candidate to contest the presidency in 2020.

At the same time, Pelosi was pushing back against mounting pressure in her party to impeach Trump, trying to keep the focus on battling next year’s elections.

But the tables have turned with the release of a memo on Trump’s July 25 call with President Volodymyr Zelensky, which confirmed he pressed for dirt on the Bidens, followed by the whistleblower’s complaint, which alleged the White House had attempted to cover up the call.

Democrats now appear able to muster the majority they need to vote through an impeachment motion in the House — for only the third time in US history — setting the stage for a possible trial of the president by the Republican-controlled Senate.

Published in Dawn, September 28th, 2019