U.S. House Speaker Pelosi to give update on Trump impeachment inquiry

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[December 05, 2019]  WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will make a statement early Thursday on the status of the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump, one day after the House Judiciary Committee began weighing potential charges against the Republican president.

Pelosi is scheduled to deliver her remarks at 9 a.m. (1400 GMT), according to the House of Representatives.

The Democratic-led panel on Wednesday heard from four legal experts as U.S. lawmakers considered whether Trump's efforts to pressure Ukraine to investigate a political rival rose to the level of impeachable offenses.

The hearing came after the House Intelligence panel this week submitted findings from its inquiry into Trump's push for Kiev to launch an investigation related to former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, a top contender for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination. He also wanted Ukraine to look into the discredited theory that Ukraine, not Russia, meddled in the 2016 election.

Democrats have accused Trump of abusing his power by withholding $391 million in security aid to Ukraine - a U.S. ally facing Russian aggression - to pressure Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to announce the investigation.

Trump has denied any wrongdoing.

The House may vote by year's end on formal impeachment charges known as articles of impeachment, but Democrats, who control the chamber, say no decision has been made at this point on the specific charges.

Those charges could include abuse of power, bribery, obstruction of Congress and obstruction of justice.

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Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) speaks at the unveiling of the congressional portrait of Former House Speaker John Boehner at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, U.S., November 19, 2019. REUTERS/Erin Scott

Judiciary panel Democrats on Wednesday also said they may look beyond Trump's relations with Ukraine to include Trump's earlier alleged efforts to impede former U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into his 2016 campaign's relations with Russia, but they stopped short of saying that could trigger a separate charge.

If the House votes to impeach Trump, the Republican-led Senate would hold a trial to decide whether to remove the president from office.

Trump's fellow Republicans in both the House and the Senate have stood by the president.

"If it does come to us, I think it will be along party lines," Republican Senator Rand Paul told Fox News in an interview on Thursday, adding that the "frivolous and partisan" effort could harm vulnerable Democrats in the November election.

(Writing by Susan Heavey; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)

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