Pelosi Says House Will Begin Impeachment Inquiry Into Trump

David Caplan
September 24, 2019 - 4:05 pm

NEW YORK (1010 WINS/AP) -- House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced on Tuesday afternoon that the House will begin a formal impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump.

Pelosi said at a press conference that Trump's actions "have seriously violated the Constitution."

Pelosi had for months resisted calls to start the impeachment process. But the dynamic changed this week as more members of her caucus came out in support, including Democrats from swing districts.

Momentum shifted in recent days following a whistleblower complaint about a series of events involving Trump, including a summer phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy . Trump is said to have pressed Zelenskiy to help investigate corruption involving Biden and his son.

In the days before the call, Trump ordered advisers to freeze $400 million in military aid for Ukraine, and Democrats want to know if that was an attempt to exert leverage over the Eastern European nations to go after the former vice president and his son.

Trump on Tuesday said he had authorized the release of a transcript of the call and predicted it would show no evidence of wrongdoing.

"You will see it was a very friendly and totally appropriate call," Trump said. The transcript was expected to be released on Wednesday.

Biden said Congress must use its "full constitutional authority" to determine whether Trump asked the Ukrainian president for dirt on Biden as he runs for the Democratic presidential nomination.

Biden said if Trump doesn't comply on that and other inquiries, he "will leave Congress ... with no choice but to initiate impeachment."

Biden said that would be a tragedy of Trump's "own making."

Trump, who was meeting with world leaders at the United Nations on Tuesday, called the impending inquiry a "witch hunt" and predicted it would be a "positive for me." He authorized the release of a transcript of his call with Ukraine's president and predicted it would show no evidence of wrongdoing.

"You will see it was a very friendly and totally appropriate call," Trump said.

The president has all but dared Democrats to open impeachment proceedings, repeatedly stonewalling requests for documents and witness interviews in a variety of ongoing investigations. Trump advisers say they are confident that the specter of impeachment led by the opposition party will bolster his political support. Pelosi has shared that concern and has spent months trying to hold off liberals in her caucus pushing for impeachment.

Earlier Tuesday, Pelosi offered hints about an inquiry announcement when speaking at The Atlantic Festival in Washington, saying: "Now we have the facts, we're ready for later today."

She said, "We have gotten to this different place, use any metaphor," offering "crossing the Rubicon" and a "new day is dawning" as examples.

She added, "This is a very serious, in a class of its own, (the) discussion that we're having about the conduct of the president of the United States."