House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced that the House is moving forward to draft articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump.
’’Our democracy is what is at stake,” Pelosi said. “The president leaves us no choice but to act.”
Pelosi delivered the historic announcement as Democrats push toward a vote, possibly by Christmas.
She said she was authorizing the drafting of articles of impeachment “sadly but with confidence and humility.”
“The president’s actions have seriously violated the Constitution,” Pelosi said.
At the heart of the impeachment probe is a July call with the president of Ukraine, in which Trump pressed the leader to investigate Democrats and political rival Joe Biden as Trump was withholding aid to the country.
“Our democracy is what is at stake,” Pelosi said in her solemn announcement. “The president leaves us no choice but to act because he is trying to corrupt, once again, the election for his own benefit. The president has engaged in abuse of power, undermining our national security and jeopardizing the integrity of our elections.”
On Wednesday, Dec. 4 Pelosi met behind closed doors with her Democratic caucus, asking, ”Äre you ready?”
The answer was a resounding yes, according to those in the room.
Democrats are charging toward a Christmastime vote on removing the 45th president, a situation Pelosi hoped to avoid but which now seems inevitable. She is to make a public statement on impeachment at 9 a.m.
Three leading legal scholars testified Wednesday to the House Judiciary Committee that Trump’s attempts to have Ukraine investigate Democratic rivals are grounds for impeachment, bolstering the Democrats’ case.
A fourth expert called by Republicans warned against rushing the process, arguing this would be the shortest of impeachment proceedings, with the “thinnest” record of evidence in modern times, setting a worrisome standard.
Trump is alleged to have abused the power of his office by putting personal political gain over national security interests, engaging in bribery by withholding $400 million in military aid Congress had approved for Ukraine; and then obstructing Congress by stonewalling the investigation.
Across the Capitol, the polarizing political divide over impeachment, only the fourth such inquiry in the nation’s history, was on display.
Democrats in the House say the inquiry is a duty. Republican representatives say it’s a sham. And quietly senators of both parties conferred on Wednesday, preparing for an eventual Trump trial.
“Never before, in the history of the republic, have we been forced to consider the conduct of a president who appears to have solicited personal, political favors from a foreign government,” said Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., chair of the Judiciary panel, which would draw up articles of impeachment.
Nadler said Trump’s phone July 25 call seeking a “favor” from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy wasn’t the first time he had sought foreign help to influence an American election, noting Russian interference in 2016. He warned against inaction with a new campaign underway.
“We cannot wait for the election,” he said. “ If we do not act to hold him in check, now, President Trump will almost certainly try again to solicit interference in the election for his personal political gain.”
Trump, attending a NATO meeting in London, called the hearing a “joke” and doubted many people would watch because it’s “boring.”
Once an outsider to the GOP, Trump now has Republicans’ unwavering support. They joined in his name-calling the Judiciary proceedings a “disgrace” and unfair, the dredging up of unfounded allegations as part of an effort to undo the 2016 election and remove him from office.
“You just don’t like the guy,” said Rep. Doug Collins of Georgia, the top Republican on the panel. Trump rewarded some of his allies with politically valuable presidential tweets as the daylong hearing dragged into the evening.
At their private meeting Wednesday, Democratic lawmakers also delivered a standing ovation to Rep. Adam Schiff, whose 300-page Intelligence Committee report cataloged potential grounds for impeachment, overwhelmingly indicating they want to continue to press the inquiry rather than slow its advance or call a halt for fear of political costs in next year’s congressional elections.
Meanwhile, Trump’s team fanned out across the Capitol with Vice President Mike Pence meeting with House Republicans and White House officials conferring with Senate Republicans to prepare for what could be the first presidential impeachment trial in a generation.
White House Counsel Pat Cipollone, who has declined for now to participate in the House proceedings, relayed Trump’s hope that the impeachment effort can be stopped in the House and there will be no need for a Senate trial, which seems unlikely.
Pelosi OKs Drafting of Impeachment Articles Against Trump