After months of brushing off the possibility of impeaching Donald Trump, Nancy Pelosi called today for an inquiry into removing the president from office.
As expected, the House Speaker made the declaration during a 5 p.m. speech on Capitol Hill. While Pelosi has previously claimed that attempting to impeach Trump is “not worth it,” her feelings on the matter have changed following reports that the POTUS attempted to blackmail Ukranian leaders into digging up dirt on Joe Biden’s son, Hunter, during a phone call.
Pelosi called the allegations a “betrayal of national security” and argued Trump “must be held accountable.”
"Today, I'm announcing the House of Representatives is moving forward with an official impeachment inquiry,” she said. “I'm directing our six committees to proceed with their investigations under that umbrella.”
Pelosi reportedly met with members of the House on Tuesday afternoon after 161 Democrats came out in favor of beginning a formal impeachment inquiry. The list includes names like Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), two of Trump’s staunchest critics.
While 74 House Democrats have yet to speak out in favor of impeachment proceedings, critics of the president have, thus far, been joined by one lone conservative: Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.).
In response to the outpouring of calls for impeachment, Trump tweeted that he would be releasing a “complete, fully declassified, and unredacted transcript of [his] phone conversation with President [Volodymyr] Zelensky of Ukraine,” a discussion he maintains was “very friendly and totally appropriate.”
“This is nothing more than a continuation of the Greatest and most Destructive Witch Hunt of all time!” he wrote.
Reports allege that Trump threatened to withhold foreign aid to Ukraine in a July 25 phone call with Zelensky if he did not unearth information that would be damaging to Biden’s presidential campaign. Although Trump has admitted he brought up the former vice president during the call, he has denied there was any “quid pro quo” attached.
The president also said any discussion of relief money was under the guise of encouraging other European countries to step up.
“We're putting up the bulk of the money, and I'm asking why is that?” Trump claimed on Tuesday, as CNN previously reported. “What I want, and I insist on it, is that Europe has to put up money for Ukraine also.”
Pelosi, however, said that distinction is irrelevant.
“Press reports began to break of a phone call, by the President of the United States, calling for a foreign power to intervene in his election,” she claimed during the Capitol Hill address. “This is a breach of his constitutional responsibilities.”
Should Congress, indeed, begin impeachment proceedings against Trump, the Commander-in-Chief believes it will only help him get re-elected in 2020. During a summit at the United Nations, he told press it would “a positive for [him] in the election,” adding that the United States is “doing the best it's ever done.”
“You could also say who needs it,” he said. “It's bad for the country.”
No U.S. president has ever been removed from office. Although both Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton faced impeachment hearings, Nixon resigned before he could be removed, while the Senate fell shy of the two-thirds majority vote needed to convict Clinton.