President Donald Trump talks to reporters before boarding Air Force One [File: Evan Vucci/AP Photo]

Washington, DC – Impeachment proceedings in the United States House of Representatives picked up speed this week as the full House voted to open a new phase of public hearings in the inquiry.

At the centre of the probe is whether President Donald Trump abused the power of his office and jeopardised US national security by withholding nearly $400m in US military aid from Ukraine in exchange for an investigation into his political rival.

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An intelligence community officer filed a whistle-blower complaint in August that Democrats say outlined “a shadow campaign” by Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani to side-line career US diplomats in pressuring Ukraine to open

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