Pelosi OKs Drafting of Impeachment Articles Against Trump

WASHINGTON (Reuters/AP) -
The 300-page Trump-Ukraine Impeachment Inquiry Report is seen after being released by the House Intelligence Committee in Washington, Tuesday. (Reuters/Jim Bourg)

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced Thursday that the House is moving forward to draft articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump.

‘’Our democracy is what is at stake,” Pelosi said. “The president leaves us no choice but to act.”

Pelosi delivered the historic announcement as Democrats push toward a vote, possibly by the end of the month.

She said she was authorizing the drafting of articles of impeachment “sadly but with confidence and humility.”

“The president’s actions have seriously violated the Constitution,” Pelosi said.

At the heart of the impeachment probe is a July call with the president of Ukraine, in which Trump pressed the leader to investigate Democrats as Trump was withholding aid to the country.

Earlier, President Donald Trump urged Democrats in the House of Representatives to move swiftly if they are going to impeach him.

The Democratic-led panel on Wednesday heard from four legal experts as lawmakers considered whether Trump’s efforts to pressure Ukraine to investigate a political rival rose to the level of impeachable offenses.

The House Intelligence panel this week submitted findings from its inquiry into Trump’s push for Kiev to launch an investigation related to former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, a top contender for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination. Trump also wanted Ukraine to look into the discredited theory that Ukraine, not Russia, meddled in the 2016 U.S. election.

Democrats have accused Trump of abusing his power by withholding $391 million in security aid to Ukraine – a U.S. ally facing Russian aggression – to pressure Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to announce the investigation.

Trump, who has denied any wrongdoing, urged House Democrats on Thursday to move fast if they are going to impeach him so that the Republican-led Senate can take up the issue.

“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,” Trump tweeted.

Judiciary panel Democrats on Wednesday said they may look beyond Trump’s relations with Ukraine to include Trump’s earlier alleged efforts to impede former U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into his 2016 campaign’s relations with Russia, but they stopped short of saying that could trigger a separate charge.

A number of House Democrats have also urged fast action, citing concerns over interference in the November 2020 presidential election in which Trump is seeking a second term.

“I feel a sense of urgency. We need to act now,” Representative Karen Bass, a Democrat on the Judiciary panel, told CNN on Thursday.

If the House votes to impeach Trump, the Senate would hold a trial to decide whether to remove the president from office.

Trump’s fellow Republicans in both chambers have stood by him, and have accused Democrats of seeking to overturn the 2016 election and rushing the process.

Republicans in the Senate have given no signs they would break with the president now. On Wednesday, Republican senators met with White House lawyer Pat Cipollone to plot their strategy, Politico reported.

Trump and the White House refused to participate in the House proceedings, but Kellyanne Conway, counselor to the president, told reporters at the White House on Thursday that they would be more likely to participate in the Senate trial.

“If it does come to us, I think it will be along party lines,” Republican Senator Rand Paul told Fox News in an interview on Thursday, adding that the “frivolous and partisan” effort could harm vulnerable Democrats in next year’s elections.

Polling has shown Americans are also largely divided along party lines over impeachment.