September 26, 2019
With gravity and solemnity, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California)—who had stood firm as the voice of reason for many months, resisting efforts to launch impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump—said at 5 p.m. on September 24 in an address to the American people, “No one is above the law.”
And with those words, she announced a formal impeachment inquiry on Tuesday, saying that the president’s growing Ukraine scandal marked a “breach of his Constitutional responsibilities,” NBC News reported.
“This week the president has admitted to asking the president of Ukraine to take actions which would benefit him politically,” Pelosi said.
Indeed, several media outlets, including NBC News, reported that, last summer, the president had withheld hundreds of millions in Congressionally approved military aid to the Eastern European nation—using the funds as leverage to get the “oppo research” he wanted on Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and his son Hunter.
On Monday, The Washington Post and other media outlets reported that Trump, in lockstep with the attorney general, instructed his acting chief of staff to place a hold on about $400 million in military aid for Ukraine in the days before a late July phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
“The actions of the Trump presidency revealed the dishonorable fact of the president’s betrayal of his oath of office, betrayal of our national security, and betrayal of the integrity of our elections,” she continued. “Therefore, today I am announcing the House of Representatives is moving forward with an official impeachment inquiry.”
Pelosi said she was formally directing the House’s six committees that have jurisdiction over impeachment, oversight and other related matters to “proceed with their investigations under that umbrella.”
“The president must be held accountable,” she said. “No one is above the law.”
Pelosi’s change of heart came as dozens of House Democrats—now about 200 members—have come out in support of an impeachment inquiry in the wake of reports that Trump may have withheld aid to Ukraine to pressure officials there to investigate the son of political rival Joe Biden.
Trump responded on Twitter within moments of Pelosi’s announcement, saying, “They never even saw the transcript of the call. A total Witch Hunt!”
He also demeaned the House Speaker, and the chairmen of the House Judiciary, Intelligence, and Financial Services committees—all of whom are expected to collaborate on impeachment charges—tweeting, “Pelosi, Nadler, Schiff and, of course, Maxine Waters! Can you believe this?”
Earlier, Trump told reporters that an impeachment inquiry would help him in the 2020 election but would harm the country.
“If she does that they all say that’s a positive for me in the election. You could also say who needs it, it’s bad for the country,” he said, according to NBC News.
And in an effort to defuse the situation, on Wednesday, he released a transcript of the call to the Ukraine president.
Pelosi reacted to the release of the transcript with a statement on her website:
“The release of the notes of the call by the White House confirms that the President engaged in behavior that undermines the integrity of our elections, the dignity of the office he holds, and our national security. The President has tried to make lawlessness a virtue in America and now
“I respect the responsibility of the President to engage with foreign leaders as part of his job. It is not part of his job to use taxpayer money to shake down other countries for the benefit of his campaign. Either the President does not know the weight of his words or he does not care about ethics or his constitutional responsibilities.
“The transcript and the Justice Department’s acting in a rogue fashion in being complicit in the President’s lawlessness confirm the need for an impeachment inquiry. Clearly, the Congress must act.“As we await the transmittal of the full whistleblower complaint to the House and Senate Intelligence Committees, it is important to note that the complaint was determined by the Inspector General to be a matter of ‘urgent concern’ and ‘credible
“The Intelligence Community has long recognized that whistleblowers constitute a vital part of our national security apparatus and that they must be protected. I reiterate my long-standing call to protect the whistleblower from retaliation.”
While Senate Republicans continue to support the president; once the whistleblower complaint is in the hands of Congress, the inquiry is expected to gain momentum—at least in the House.
Research contact: @NBCNews