‘Evidence is clear’: Pelosi says Trump used office for personal gain

Pelosi has invited Trump to challenge the evidence against him. (AP pic)

WASHINGTON: US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on Thursday there was clear evidence President Donald Trump had used his office for personal gain and undermined national security, but that no final impeachment decision had been made as House Democrats continued their impeachment inquiry into the Republican president.

Pelosi, speaking at her weekly press conference, reiterated that it was up to the House Intelligence Committee to determine how to proceed with the investigation as lawmakers continued to gather facts and hear from witnesses.

“The evidence is clear … that the president has used his office for his own personal gain and in doing so undermined the national security,” she told reporters.

“He has violated his oath of office.”

The Democrat-led House Intelligence Committee on Thursday was conducting its fifth and final scheduled day of public hearings in the impeachment inquiry centred on Trump’s request in a July 25 phone call that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy conduct probes of Trump’s political rivals.

The inquiry is also examining whether Trump’s withholding of US$391 million in security aid to Ukraine was meant to pressure Zelenskiy to undertake the investigations.

Trump has denied wrongdoing.

The inquiry could lead the House to approve formal charges against Trump, known as articles of impeachment.

The Republican-controlled Senate would then hold a trial on whether to remove him from office, although few Republican senators have been critical of Trump so far.

Asked by a reporter whether the House was now ready to advance articles of impeachment against Trump, Pelosi said: “We haven’t made any decision.”

The nation’s leading Democrat also left open the possibility of additional hearings by the House Intelligence Committee or the interviewing of additional witnesses.

“We are not finished yet. The day is not over and you never know what testimony of one person may lead to the need for testimony of another,” Pelosi said.

She again issued an invitation to Trump to come forward, saying, “if you have any information that is exculpatory … because it seems as if the facts are uncontested to what happened. Now if you have contrary, if you have reason to convince people that something was different, under oath, please let us know.”