Nancy Pelosi is calling for a formal impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump by the House of Representatives. The house speaker made her announcement on Tuesday, September 24, as a wave of Democratic members of Congress stated their support for impeachment proceedings against the Republican president.
“The actions taken to date by the president have seriously violated the Constitution, especially when the president says ‘Article II says I can do whatever I want,'” Pelosi said. “This week the President has admitted to asking the president of Ukraine to take actions which would benefit him politically. The actions of the Trump presidency revealed the dishonorable fact of the president’s betrayal of his oath of office, betrayal of national security and betrayal of the integrity of our elections. Therefore, today, I am announcing the House of Representatives moving forward with an official impeachment inquiry.”
Pelosi said she is “directing our six committees to proceed with their investigations under that umbrella of impeachment inquiry. The president must be held accountable. No one is above the law.”
Trump immediately responded on Twitter, tweeting, “Such an important day at the United Nations, so much work and so much success, and the Democrats purposely had to ruin and demean it with more breaking news Witch Hunt garbage. So bad for our Country!” He added in a second tweet, “Pelosi, Nadler, Schiff and, of course, Maxine Waters! Can you believe this?”
You can watch video of her speech here:
Pelosi did not take questions after her statement.
The formal impeachment inquiry proceedings would be the first since Republicans in the House investigated President Bill Clinton and only the third time that formal proceedings have been brought against a president. Clinton, in 1998, and President Andrew Johnson, in 1868, were both impeached by the House, but acquitted by the Senate. In 1974, President Richard Nixon resigned amid an impeachment process before the House voted to impeach him.
Pelosi said, “Our Republic endures because of the wisdom of our Constitution enshrined in three co-equal branches of government serving as checks and balances on each other.”
She said, “For the past several months we have been investigating in our committees and litigating in the courts so the House can gather all the facts and consider whether to exercise its full Article I powers, including a Constitutional power of the utmost gravity: approval of articles of impeachment.”
“In the darkest days of the American Revolution, Thomas Paine wrote, ‘The times have found us.’ The times found them to fight for and establish our democracy. The times have found us today, not to place ourselves in the same category of greatness as our founders, but to place us in the urgency of protecting and defending our Consitution from all enemies foreign and domestic, and in the words of Benjamin Franklin, ‘to keep our Republic,'” Pelosi said.
Pelosi Says Trump Committed a ‘Breach of His Constitutional Responsibilities’
During her announcement, Pelosi indicated it was the latest developments regarding a whistleblower complaint regarding Trump and Ukraine that pushed the impeachment inquiry decision ahead.
“Last Tuesday we observed the anniversary of the adoption of the Constitution on September 17. Sadly, on that day, the intelligence community inspector general formally notified the Congress that the administration was forbidding him from turning over a whistleblower complaint. On Constitution Day,” Pelosi said. “This is a violation of law. Shortly thereafter press reports began to break of a phone call by the president of the United States calling on a foreign power to intervene in his election. This is a breach of his constitutional responsibilities.”
Pelosi added, “The facts are these: the intelligence community inspector general, who was appointed by President Trump, determined that the complaint is both of urgent concern and credible. … On Thursday, the inspector general testified before the House Intelligence Committee stating that the acting director of national intelligence blocked him form disclosing the whistleblower complaint. This is a violation of law. The law is unequivocal. The director of intelligence shall provide Congress the full whistleblower complaint.”
Pelosi said Acting DNI Joseph Maguire will testify before Congress on Thursday and will be faced with the decision as to whether break the law or turn over the full complaint. Pelosi said the actions by the Trump administration have undermined both national security and the goal of protecting whistleblowers.
Pelosi made her announcement just after 5 p.m. in her Capitol office following a private meeting with members of the Democratic House caucus. During that meeting, Pelosi told Democrats they would be moving toward impeaching Trump, according to Politico, and said “It would be my intention with the consent of this Caucus…. to proceed with an impeachment inquiry.”
Pelosi had previously been reluctant to endorse impeachment proceedings against Trump. But two-thirds of the Democratic House majority caucus have come out in support of impeachment, according to NBC News.
More than 170 of the 235 House Democrats are in favor of impeachment action, the news network reports. Republican turned independent Rep. Justin Amash, of Michigan, has also backed impeachment proceedings. It would take 218 votes in the House to impeach Trump, but that would not remove him from office. The House vote would send the impeachment inquiry to the Senate, which is controlled by Republicans.
Pelosi’s dramatic shift comes as the controversy surrounding a whistleblower complaint about Trump intensifies. The complaint centers partly around a call Trump made to the president of Ukraine and accusations that he pressured the Ukrainian leader to investigate the son of Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden while threatening to withhold aid to the European country and American ally. Trump has denied any wrongdoing and says he will release the transcript of his call with President Volodymyr Zelensky on September 24.
Trump, who is running for re-election in 2020, said Tuesday, “I put no pressure on them whatsoever. I could have. I think it would probably, possibly have been OK if I did. But I didn’t. I didn’t put any pressure on them whatsoever.”
Pelosi told fellow Democrats, according to Politico, “He is asking a foreign government to help him in his campaign, that is a betrayal of his oath of office.” She said even if none of the previous work done by House committes investigating Trump had not occurred, “what happened this last week is grevious and serious to our constitution,” sources in the room told Politico.
Pelosi Earlier Said ‘It’s Really Sad to THink That Our President Would Perform an Impeachable Offense’
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi previewed her Tuesday evening remarks during an appearance at an event hosted by The Atlantic earlier in the afternoon.
“If we have to honor our oath of office to support and defend the Constitution of the United States from all enemies, foreign and domestic, that’s what we’ll have to do,” Pelosi told The Atlantic Editor-in-Chief Jeffrey Goldberg at The Atlantic Festival. “But we have to have the facts. That’s why I’ve said, soon as we have the facts, we’re ready.”
The California Democrat said Trump is “making lawlessness a virtue in our country.” She told Goldberg, “It’s really sad to think that our President would perform an impeachable offense. It’s hard to say you’ve gotten to that place. But what would be an impeachable offense would be that which is proven in an investigation.”
Pelosi said Trump making the transcript of his call with the president of Ukraine public is not enough. She said the whistleblower complaint is what is important and is what the Trump administration has been withholding. According to CNN, the whistleblower, a member of the intelligence community, made the complaint to the Director of National Intelligence and the intelligence inspector general through the proper process after the phone call Trump had with the Ukrainian leader, but the complaint goes beyond the call.
Pelosi said the director of national intelligence is “breaking the law at the direction of the president” by withholding the complaint from Congress.
She said, “if that is the case, that the president of the United States would ask a foreign government to assist him in a political way, that would be wrong.” She said, “There is no requirement there be a quid pro quo in the conversation.”
Meanwhile, Rep. Adam Schiff, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said the whistleblower in the Ukraine situation wants to speak to Congress.
“We have been informed by the whistleblower’s counsel that their client would like to speak to our committee and has requested guidance from the Acting DNI as to how to do so,” Schiff tweeted. “We‘re in touch with counsel and look forward to the whistleblower’s testimony as soon as this week.”
During the House caucus meeting, Schiff said things with Trump had gone from “bad to worse to worse yet,” Politico reports.
Former Vice President Biden Says Trump Will ‘Leave Congress No Choice But to Initiate Impeachment’
Former Vice President and current Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden addressed Trump’s Ukraine scandal hours before Pelosi spoke. He stopped short of calling for impeachment proceedings, but indicated he supports an official inquiry if Trump does not comply with an investigation into the whistleblower situation.
“Denying Congress the information, which it is constitutionally entitled to, and obstructing its efforts to investigate actions is not the conduct of an American president. It’s an abuse of power,” Biden said. “Donald Trump will leave Congress, in my view, no choice but to initiate impeachment. That would be a tragedy, but a tragedy of his own making.”
Biden added, “I can take the political attacks. They’ll come and they’ll go, and in time they’ll soon be forgotten, but if we allow a president to get away with shredding the United States constitution, that will last forever.”
The White House Says Trump Is ‘Working Hard’ While Democrats ‘Weaponize Politics’ & Calls the Latest Developments ‘Nothing New’
White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham issued a statement saying, “the Democrats continue to weaponize politics when they should be working on behalf of their constituents, which is nothing new.”
She added on Twitter, “Dems do nothing but weaponize politics when they should be working on behalf of their constituents. President Trump is here in NYC working hard on behalf of our country, while the Dems continue to stomp their feet & shout the word impeachment. Nothing new here”
Trump, meanwhile, tweeted, “The Democrats are so focused on hurting the Republican Party and the President that they are unable to get anything done because of it, including legislation on gun safety, lowering of prescription drug prices, infrastructure, etc. So bad for our Country!”
Trump earlier said on Twitter, “I am currently at the United Nations representing our Country, but have authorized the release tomorrow of the complete, fully declassified and unredacted transcript of my phone conversation with President Zelensky of Ukraine…….You will see it was a very friendly and totally appropriate call. No pressure and, unlike Joe Biden and his son, NO quid pro quo! This is nothing more than a continuation of the Greatest and most Destructive Witch Hunt of all time!”
Several Democratic Members of Congress, Including Rep. John Lewis & 7 Freshman Democrats, Came Forward With Impeachment Inquiry Calls Before Pelosi Made Her Announcement
The announcement by Pelosi came after reports that the dam among Democrats was breaking with support shifting toward impeachment proceedings. Seven freshman Democrats from more moderate districts penned an op-ed in The Washington Post the night before her announcement signaling their support for the inquiry.
Several other Democrats also expressed their support for impeachment proceedings on September 24 in the hours before Pelosi spoke publicly.
Rep. John Lewis gave a fiery speech on the House floor about his decision. He said, “”We cannot delay. We must not wait. Now is the time to act. I have been patient while we tried every other path and used every other tool. We will never find the truth unless we use the power given to the House of Representatives and the House alone to begin an official investigation as dictated by the Constitution. The future of our democracy is at stake.”
Lewis added, “I believe, I truly believe, the time to begin impeachment proceedings against this president has come. To delay, or to do otherwise, would betray the foundation of our democracy.”
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