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Impeachment pressure grows over Trump's call with Ukraine president

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Activists ask for impeachment of US President Donald Trump as they gather on Capitol Hill on September 23, 2019. (AFP photo)

Pressure is escalating for Democrats in the US Congress to launch impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump over allegations that the Republican president had asked his Ukrainian counterpart to launch an investigation that could damage Democratic political rival Joe Biden.

Speaking to reporters as he arrived at the UN General Assembly in New York on Monday, a defiant Trump said he is taking the impeachment threat "not at all seriously"

"The conversation I had was largely congratulatory, was largely corruption... and largely the fact that we don't want our people, like vice president Biden and his son, creating... the corruption already in the Ukraine," Trump said.

Trump also sought to deflect any blame from himself and redirect it towards Biden, accusing the former vice president, without evidence, of engaging in corruption in Ukraine.

The latest crisis for Trump was sparked earlier this month after The Washington Post reported that Trump made a phone call in July to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, and allegedly attempted to coerce Zelensky into finding damning information about Biden's son's business dealings in Ukraine.

On Sunday, Trump acknowledged that he discussed Biden and his son in a call with the Ukrainian president.

Several Democrats now argue that Trump's call for Ukraine to investigate Biden, and what they suspect was a threat to condition $250 million in aid to Ukraine on an investigation of Biden, is impeachable conduct.

That view may be pushing House leaders towards a tipping point for launching removal proceedings.

The Democratic leader of a key congressional panel said on Sunday the pursuit of Trump’s impeachment may be the “only remedy” to the situation.

Amid the growing pressure, several Republicans in the US Senate, which would hold a trial of Trump should the House impeach him, have signaled they want the president to be more transparent about the call and the whistleblower's complaint.

"I would just urge the president -- you know, he's talking openly about the conversation -- to release as much as possible," Senator Lindsey Graham, a Trump loyalist, told the Hugh Hewitt radio show.

However, Democrat leaders have hesitated to pull the impeachment trigger. Launching impeachment proceedings could be a politically risky move ahead of a presidential election.

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