Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) announced Thursday that the House would proceed with the articles of impeachment against Donald Trump, setting the stage for the fourth time in American history a president would face that judgment.
“The president has engaged in abuse of power undermining our national security and jeopardizing the integrity of our elections. His actions are in defiance of the vision of our Founders, and the oath of office that he takes to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States,” Pelosi said.
Frequently speaking in language cloaked in the Constitution and the Founding Fathers, Pelosi outlined the next steps in what she framed as Democrats’ solemn obligation to hold President Trump accountable for what she described as the offenses of “abuse of power, undermining our national security, and jeopardizing the integrity of our elections.”
“The president's actions have seriously violated the Constitution, especially when he says and acts upon the belief Article Two says, ‘I can do whatever I want,’” she said. “No.”
Later that morning, Pelosi told reporters that Democrats’ most immediate next step—a formal presentation of evidence in the impeachment inquiry by attorneys from the Judiciary and Intelligence Committees in a hearing—was set for Monday.
“I’m really sorry the president made this necessary by his complete disregard for the intention of our founders,” Pelosi said. “This has nothing to do with politics.”
However, Pelosi herself could not help but dive into some of the politics at play during a moment with major electoral consequences for her party. When asked by a reporter if she had an “a-ha moment” that prompted her to come around on impeachment, Pelosi rattled off changes in public polling on impeachment.
“The polls went from 59 percent opposed to impeachment, 34 in favor, to now even,” said Pelosi.
The speaker also situated the Ukraine allegations against Trump—which she called “a profound violation of the public trust”—in the context of long-running concerns over the president’s attitude towards Russia.
“This isn’t about Ukraine, this is about Russia,” she said, explaining that Trump’s desire to withhold military aid from Ukraine only boosted Moscow. “Our adversary in this is Russia. All roads lead to Putin. Understand that.”
The speaker's pair of remarks come after several weeks of intense hearings in the House Intelligence Committee in which current and former administration officials testified about events this year surrounding Trump’s efforts to withhold political and military support from Ukraine until then-newly elected President Volodymyr Zelensky agreed to announce potentially damaging investigations into former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter. On Wednesday, the House Judiciary Committee held a hearing with four constitutional law scholars, three of whom said the president’s actions were impeachable offenses.
On Tuesday, the intelligence panel Democrats released a 300-page report laying out their case against the president, both through those witness testimonies as well as what the White House chose to withhold from congressional investigators. The president was “the author of his own impeachment inquiry,” the report declared. The document was later officially adopted by the committee on a party line vote, and it will be the basis for Monday’s Judiciary hearing during which attorneys for Chairman Adam Schiff’s committee will present key findings.
The Judiciary panel’s own attorneys will present evidence on Monday, too, signaling that their work related to Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s findings on obstruction of justice could return to the fore.
The Trump campaign was swift to respond to Pelosi’s announcement, charging that Democrats were trying to take the decision of choosing the president away from the American people just months before the 2020 election.
“But impeaching the president has always been their goal, so they should just get on with it so we can have a fair trial in the Senate and expose The Swamp for what it is,” said Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale, in a statement.
Trump, himself, responded in a pair of tweets about an hour after Pelosi’s first set of remarks.
“The Do Nothing, Radical Left Democrats have just announced that they are going to seek to Impeach me over NOTHING. They already gave up on the ridiculous Mueller ‘stuff,’ so now they hang their hats on two totally appropriate (perfect) phone calls with the Ukrainian President,” he tweeted. “This will mean that the beyond important and seldom used act of Impeachment will be used routinely to attack future Presidents. That is not what our Founders had in mind. The good thing is that the Republicans have NEVER been more united. We will win!”