Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi announced Tuesday that the House of Representatives is pursuing a formal impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump, a historic step that comes after months of debate in the House over whether, or how, to hold the president accountable.
The tipping point for Pelosi — along with other House Democrats once skeptical of pursuing impeachment — are the revelations that Trump tried to pressure the Ukrainian president into investigating Joe Biden’s son.
Pelosi made that clear on Tuesday. “The president has admitted to asking the president of Ukraine to take actions which would benefit him politically,” Pelosi said in a brief speech to reporters. “The actions of the Trump presidency revealed dishonorable facts of betrayal of his oath of office and betrayal of our national security and betrayal of the integrity of our elections.”
Pelosi continued: “Therefore, today, I’m announcing the House of Representatives is moving forward with an official impeachment inquiry and directing our six committees to proceed with their investigation under that umbrellas of impeachment inquiry.”
“No one is above the law,” she said.
This is an incredible reversal for Pelosi, who has resisted pursuing impeachment in the wake of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, and she continued to do so last week, even as details of a whistleblower complaint began to leak — specifically that Trump may used his dealings with a foreign power to damage a 2020 political rival.
“Getting back to our founders, in the darkest days of the American revolution, Thomas Paine wrote, ‘the times have found us,’” Pelosi said. “The times found them to fight and establish our democracy. The times have found us today. Not to place ourselves in the same greatness as our founders but in protecting and defending our Constitution from all enemies foreign and domestic.”
The swiftness of this decision — after months of dragging after special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation concluded — only underscores the truly monumental nature of Pelosi’s announcement. This is only the fourth time in US history that the House of Representatives have launched a formal impeachment process against a president, putting Trump in small, and ignominious, company.
Trump, still in New York City at the United Nations, blasted Pelosi’s announcement immediately on Twitter, calling it “breaking news Witch Hunt garbage” and “PRESIDENTIAL HARASSMENT!”
Pelosi’s earlier reticence toward an impeachment inquiry over Trump was largely based on the mood of moderate House Democrats in vulnerable districts and a public that wasn’t eager for a messy, divisive political fight ahead of the 2020 presidential elections.
Now, Pelosi is saying Trump’s transgressions are too urgent to ignore. Whether the rest of the House of Representatives — let alone the Senate, or the country will agree, will be battled out over the coming weeks and months.
Here’s a rush transcript of Pelosi’s full statement, below.
Last Tuesday, we had 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. 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 upon a foreign power to intervene in his election.
This is a breach of his constitutional responsibilities. The facts are these: The intelligence community inspector general, who is appointed by President Trump, determined that the complaint is both of urgent concern and credible. And its
On Thursday, the inspector general testified before the House Intelligence Committee stating that the acting director of national intelligence blocked him from disclosing the whistleblower complaint. This is a violation of law. The law is: The DNI, director of national intelligence, shall provide Congress the full whistleblower complaint.
For more than 25 years, I served on the Intelligence Committee as a member, as the ranking member, as part of the Gang of Four even before I was in the leadership. I was there when we created the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. That did not exist before 2004. I was there even earlier when we wrote the whistleblower laws and continued to write them to improve them to ensure the security of our intelligence and the safety of our whistleblowers.
I know what their purpose was, and we proceeded to balance and caution as we wrote the laws.
I can say with authority that the Trump administration’s actions undermine both the national security and our intelligence and our protections of whistleblowers. The acting DNI will appear before the House Intelligence Committee and must turn over the full complaint to the committee. He will have to choose whether to break the law or honor his responsibility to the constitution.
On the final day of the Constitutional Convention in 1787, when our Constitution was adopted, Americans gathered on the steps of Independence Hall to break the news the government our founders had crafted, “What do we have, a republic or monarchy?” [Benjamin] Franklin replied, “A Republic if you keep it.”
Our responsibility is to keep it. The wisdom of our Constitution enshrined in three co-equal branches of government serving as checks and balances on each other. The actions taken by the president have seriously violated the Constitution, when the president says “Article 2 says I can do whatever I want.”
For the past several months we have been investigating in our committees and litigating in the courts so the House can gather all the relevant facts and whether to exercise its Article 1 powers, including a constitutional power of the utmost gravity of articles of impeachment.
And 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 dishonorable facts of betrayal of his oath of office and betrayal of our national security and betrayal of the integrity of our elections.
Therefore, today I’m announcing the House of Representatives is moving forward with an official impeachment inquiry and directing our six committees to proceed with their investigation under that umbrella of impeachment inquiry.
No one is above the law.
Getting back to our founders, in the darkest days of the American Revolution, Thomas Paine wrote, “The times have found us.” The times found them to fight and establish our democracy. The times have found us today. Not to place ourselves in the same greatness as our founders but in protecting and defending our Constitution from all enemies, foreign and domestic. In the words of Ben Franklin, “to keep our republic.”
I thank our chairmen, Chairman Nadler, Chairman Schiff, Chairman Engel, Chairman Cummings of Oversight. Chairman Cummings and I have been in touch with [each other] constantly. He is a master of so much, including inspectors general and whistleblowers. Chairman Richard Neal, Congresswoman Maxine Waters of the Financial Services Committee. And I commend all of our members, our colleagues for their thoughtful, thoughtful approach to all of this for their careful statements.
God bless them, and God bless America.