House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Thursday told the House committees investigating President Donald Trump to proceed with articles of impeachment.
“The president’s actions have seriously violated the Constitution,” the California Democrat told reporters on Capitol Hill.
He “leaves us no choice but to act,” she said.
Pelosi spoke for about six minutes and took no questions.
House Democrats are in the midst of an inquiry into whether Trump abused his power by withholding military aid to Ukraine in exchange for that country announcing investigations for his own political benefit and at the expense of U.S. national security interests.
Pelosi’s comments confirm what was widely expected: that the Democrat-controlled House will vote on whether to impeach the president.
“Sadly, but with confidence and humility, with allegiance to our founders, and our heart full of love for America, today I am asking our chairmen to proceed with the articles of impeachment,” she said.
Minutes after Pelosi concluded her remarks, White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham said in a tweet that “we look forward to a fair trial in the Senate.”
The Judiciary Committee, led by Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., will be responsible for drafting specific articles of impeachment. On Wednesday, Nadler’s committee held a public hearing with four legal scholars who discussed whether Trump’s efforts toward Ukraine met the constitutional bar for impeachment.
Trump bashed that proceeding in a pair of tweets prior to Pelosi’s remarks Thursday morning.
“The Do Nothing Democrats had a historically bad day yesterday in the House. They have no Impeachment case and are demeaning our Country. But nothing matters to them, they have gone crazy,” he tweeted.
Trump added the Republican-led Senate will call Pelosi to testify, along with former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter, whom Trump asked Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to “look into” in a July 25 phone call that helped spark the impeachment probe.
The Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing Monday morning on the evidence gathered in the impeachment inquiry, Nadler’s panel announced Thursday.
US Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi speaks about the impeachment inquiry of US President Donald Trump at the US Capitol in Washington, DC, on December 5, 2019.
Saul Loeb | AFP | Getty Images
Trump and his allies have accused Democrats of ignoring the business of governing by focusing entirely on the impeachment proceedings. “Democrats are too busy hosting a panel of law professors to criticize President Trump on television instead of the things the American people actually need us to address,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said on the Senate floor Thursday.
Pelosi clapped back at a news conference later that day.
“The Grim Reaper says all we’re doing is impeachment,” Pelosi said, referring to a nickname for McConnell, who has refused to take up many House-passed bills, that he and his supporters have championed.
“No. We have 275 bipartisan bills on your desk,” including legislation that would strengthen background checks for gun purchases, Pelosi said.
The president also claimed that House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., who led weeks of private and public impeachment hearings with fact witnesses, will be called to appear in the Senate trial.
“It’s obviously a significant milestone where the decision has been made to bring forward articles before the committee,” Schiff told reporters later Thursday, adding that he will be “engaged in the process” of drafting the articles of impeachment.
A 300-page report published Tuesday, which was compiled by Schiff and Democrats on the Intelligence, Foreign Affairs and Oversight committees, synthesized the evidence gathered from those hearings.
It also contained documentary evidence, including phone records that show the Intelligence panel’s top-ranking Republican, Rep. Devin Nunes, had called key figures in the impeachment probe. Those figures include Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani, who was deeply involved in the Ukraine efforts, as well as Giuliani associate Lev Parnas, who was arrested in October and charged with conspiracy, lying to the Federal Election Commission and falsifying records.
House Democrats are weighing whether Trump should be removed from office for holding up nearly $400 million in congressionally authorized military assistance to Ukraine as it battled pro-Russian separatists in return for allegedly pressuring Ukraine’s president to launch an investigation of Trump’s political rivals.
“The facts are uncontested,” Pelosi said. “The president abused his power for his own personal political benefit at the expense of our national security by withholding military aid and crucial oval office meeting in exchange for an announcement of an investigation into his political rival.”
— CNBC’s Yelena Dzhanova contributed to this report.