Pelosi says House will move to impeach President Trump

Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiCNN's Axelrod says impeachment didn't come up until 80 minutes into focus group On The Money — Presented by Wells Fargo — Social Security emerges as flash point in Biden-Sanders fight | Dems urge Supreme Court to save consumer agency | Trump to sign USMCA next week Veronica Escobar to give Spanish-language response to Trump State of the Union address MORE (D-Calif.) announced Thursday that the House will move forward with impeaching President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump says his advice to impeachment defense team is 'just be honest' Trump expands tariffs on steel and aluminum imports CNN's Axelrod says impeachment didn't come up until 80 minutes into focus group MORE, saying his actions — as revealed by their weeks-long investigation — left them “no choice” but to pursue his removal from office.

The move erases any lingering doubt that Democrats view Trump’s dealings with Ukraine as a severe violation of the Constitution — and any question of whether they will take the next step of making him just the third president in the nation’s history to be impeached.

"The president's actions have seriously violated the Constitution," Pelosi said in a televised address against a backdrop of American flags. "Our democracy is at stake. The president leaves us no choice but to act."

Delivered on the august Speaker’s balcony in the Capitol, Pelosi's announcement was not entirely unexpected, as Democrats have been charging ahead for weeks with their investigation into Trump’s handling of foreign policy in Kyiv. But it marks a dramatic development nonetheless — one that increases the likelihood the House could vote on formal impeachment articles against Trump before Christmas.

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On Wednesday, the Judiciary Committee had staged its first hearing to examine whether the evidence dug up by the weeks-long investigation of the Intelligence Committee merits impeachment. And many Democrats were expecting Judiciary Chairman Jerrold NadlerJerrold (Jerry) Lewis NadlerNadler calls Trump a 'dictator' on Senate floor Poll: Majority think Senate should call witnesses in Trump impeachment trial Susan Collins asked Justice Roberts to intervene after Nadler late-night 'cover-up' accusation MORE (D-N.Y.) to conduct more hearings on the topic. Pelosi on Thursday said there was no need. 

"Today, I am asking our chairmen to proceed with articles of impeachment," she said. 

Her use of “chairmen” is notable: it means that Nadler will not draft the articles alone, but will have help from other committee heads involved in the process, almost certainly to include Intelligence Chairman Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffTrump says his advice to impeachment defense team is 'just be honest' Schiff says Justice Roberts should rule on witnesses Schiff sparks blowback with head on a 'pike' line MORE (D-Calif.).

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Pelosi did not say when the articles will emerge, or what charges they will contain. But Democrats on the Judiciary Committee forecast potential articles in Wednesday’s hearing, outlining the case that Trump abused his power by committing bribery, obstructing justice and obstructing Congress.

Pelosi’s announcement opens a fourth phase in the Democrats’ hard-charging impeachment investigation, which they launched on Sept. 24 following allegations from a government whistleblower that Trump had asked foreign leaders to do him personal political favors.

The Democratic leader on Thursday described Trump pressing Ukraine to open two politically motivated investigations — including into a 2020 presidential rival — and called it a threat to the country and one that warrants action.

Pelosi, in particular, argued that Trump abused the power of his office, saying he undermined U.S. national security by seeking to have a foreign power interference in U.S. elections.

“The facts are uncontested: the president abused his power for his own personal political benefit at the expense of our national security,” she said.

Democrats have alleged that Trump dangled a possible White House visit and nearly $400 million in U.S. aid to Kyiv as leverage – a claim supported by the testimony of multiple career public servants who publicly offered damning details into the administration’s Ukraine foreign policy.

"If we allow a president to be above the law, we do so surely at the peril of our republic,” Pelosi said. “In America, no one is above the law.”

Republicans immediately blasted the move.

White House press secretary Stephanie GrishamStephanie GrishamParnas says he has turned over tape of Trump calling for diplomat's firing ABC: Recording apparently captures Trump discussing Yovanovitch ouster with Parnas, Fruman Trump's split-screen presidency takes stark form in impeachment MORE in a statement attacked the decision, calling Democrats’ impeachment inquiry a "sham" that is a "blatant, purely partisan attempt to overturn the results of a free and fair election."

"Democrats in Congress have clearly abused their power. Democrats in Congress have lied to the American people. Democrats in Congress have made a mockery of the law, Grisham said.
 
"How many Democrats will join her driving right off the cliff with this illegitimate impeachment hoax?" she continued, calling it a "subversion" of the U.S. Constitution.

Trump also argued on Twitter that the repercussions of the decision will hurt "future presidents."

Even prior to the announcement, Trump took to Twitter to attack Democrats and their impeachment inquiry — while simultaneously inviting them to expedite it.

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“The Do Nothing Democrats had a historically bad day yesterday in the House. They have no Impeachment case and are demeaning our Country,” the president wrote in a pair of tweets.

“But nothing matters to them, they have gone crazy. Therefore I say, if you are going to impeach me, do it now, fast, so we can have a fair trial in the Senate, and so that our Country can get back to business. We will have Schiff, the Bidens, Pelosi and many more testify, and will reveal, for the first time, how corrupt our system really is.”

Pelosi’s full-throated endorsement of impeaching Trump came after she had rejected that strategy through most of the year, even as Nadler and other liberals were clamoring for it throughout the examination of Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerSchiff: Trump acquittal in Senate trial would not signal a 'failure' Jeffries blasts Trump for attack on Thunberg at impeachment hearing Live coverage: House Judiciary to vote on impeachment after surprise delay MORE’s report on Russian interference in the 2016 elections.

Pelosi has her eyes on keeping the House majority in 2021, and there was plenty of early concern from vulnerable centrists that impeachment would haunt them at the polls next year.  But with the arrival of the Ukraine saga, much of that resistance fell away.

Pelosi, in launching the drafting of articles on Thursday, argued that the move was necessary to uphold the founders' efforts to prevent “the return of a monarchy in America."

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"They specifically feared the prospects of a king president corrupted by foreign influence," the speaker said. 

“They therefore created a constitutional remedy to protect against a dangerous or corrupt leader: impeachment.” 

—Updated at 10:45 a.m.