Invoking the Founding Fathers, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Tuesday that existing investigations of President Donald Trump would continue “under that umbrella” of an impeachment inquiry.
Pelosi, D-Calif., who has long resisted the push by the left wing of her party to impeach the president, was moved by the recent questions surrounding Trump’s admission that he asked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in a July phone call to investigate the business dealings in that country of former Vice President Joe Biden’s son, Hunter Biden.
Pelosi called that a “betrayal of our national security and betrayal of the integrity of our elections.”
“For the past several months, we have been investigating in our committees and litigating in the courts so the House can gather all the relevant facts and consider whether to exercise its full Article 1 power, including the constitutional power of the utmost gravity, approval of articles of impeachment,” Pelosi said. “This week, the president has admitted to asking the president of Ukraine to take actions which would benefit him politically.”
Therefore, today, I am announcing the House of Representatives is moving forward with an official impeachment inquiry. I’m directing our six committees to proceed with their investigations under that umbrella of impeachment inquiry.
The president must be held accountable. No one is above the law.
Pelosi made the announcement hours after Trump addressed the full United Nations General Assembly in New York.
The president responded in a series of tweets, calling it “witch hunt garbage” and “presidential harassment.”
Trump announced earlier Tuesday he was declassifying a transcript of the call he had with the Ukrainian leader. However, Pelosi and House Democrats also want the full report of the whistleblower who reported the conversation. CNN reported that the whistleblower did not have direct knowledge of the conversation.
When speaking to a group of foreign policy experts, former Vice President Joe Biden previously said he had threatened to withhold $1 billion in U.S. aid to Ukraine if the country’s government did not fire a prosecutor who was investigating the Ukrainian natural gas company Burisma, for which son Hunter Biden worked as a board member.
Biden told the group: “I said, ‘You’re not getting the billion.’ I’m going to be leaving here in, I think it was about six hours. I looked at them and said: ‘I’m leaving in six hours. If the prosecutor is not fired, you’re not getting the money.’ Well, son of a b—-, he got fired. And they put in place someone who was solid at the time.”
Pelosi did not elaborate on whether the full House would vote to proceed with an impeachment inquiry, or whether the six committees investigating Trump would simply continue doing the same thing they’re already doing under a different label, that of an “impeachment inquiry.”
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., later told reporters on Capitol Hill that Pelosi “can’t unilaterally decide we are in an impeachment inquiry.”
McCarthy said what Pelosi announced Tuesday, without a House vote, is no different from the investigations that committees already have been doing.
The House Judiciary Committee, which would be charged with approving articles of impeachment, was already involved in “impeachment proceedings” and held its first “impeachment hearing” last week.
The other five House panels conducting investigations into Trump are the Intelligence Committee, the Oversight and Reform Committee, the Ways and Means Committee, the Financial Services Committee, and the Foreign Affairs Committee.
Pelosi ignored this question from a reporter: “What does this accomplish if the Senate doesn’t convict?”
A Republican-controlled Senate is unlikely to vote to remove Trump from office.
Trump has insisted there was nothing improper about the call to Ukraine’s new president, and the Ukrainian foreign minister said there was “no pressure.”
The Wall Street Journal reported Friday that Trump repeatedly asked the Ukraine leader for a probe of Hunter Biden, but also said there was no quid pro quo regarding U.S. funds for the country. However, delivery of the congressionally approved funds had been stalled.