Nancy Pelosi Announces Formal Impeachment Inquiry of Donald Trump
The news comes after days of speculation regarding a whistleblower complaint about Trump's phone call with the president of Ukraine.
After months of trying to avoid the impeachment process, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi now plans to launch a formal impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump. Calls for impeachment have reached a peak in the past few days, following a whistleblower complaint that alleged Trump may have threatened to withhold aid money from Ukraine unless President Volodymyr Zelensky agreed to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden. “The president must be held accountable,” Pelosi said in a statement on Tuesday evening. “No one is above the law.”
Joseph Maguire, the acting Director of National Intelligence, has thus far refused to release the original whistleblower complaint to Congress, but in her statement, Pelosi said that Maguire will have to turn over the complaint on Thursday when he appears before the House Intelligence Committee. Representative Adam Schiff, who is chairman of the committee, said that the whistleblower wants to speak to Congress; he claims that the committee may hear testimony from the complainant as soon as this week.
Speaking at the United Nations on Tuesday afternoon, Trump said that impeachment proceedings would be “a positive for me.” On Twitter, he described his phone call with Zelensky as “very friendly and totally appropriate,” adding that the Ukraine scandal is another “witch hunt” blown out of proportion by Democrats. Following Pelosi's announcement of the formal inquiry, Trump continued tweeting about the situation and called it “presidential harassment.” On Wednesday, the White House released a transcript of the phone call between Trump and Zelensky; in it, Trump does ask Zelensky to “do us a favor” and open an investigation into the Bidens. Critics of the administration have noted that the “transcript” is actually composed of notes taken on the call and is not a verbatim record of what was said. “What they are calling a ‘transcript' isn't even a transcript,” Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez tweeted on Wednesday. “It's a collection of notes. This is what they are *admitting* to and it's way above and beyond what is necessary for impeachment. The president engaged in an outright betrayal of our country.”
Speaking on Tuesday, Joe Biden called on the House to initiate impeachment proceedings against the president if he continued to refuse to release the whistleblower complaint. Several other Democratic presidential candidates, including Senators Kamala Harris, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, have also publicly stated their support for impeachment. “I said it on the floor of the U.S. Senate in May and I'll say it again,” Warren tweeted on Tuesday. “Congress must fulfill its Constitutional duty and begin impeachment proceedings against the president. Nobody is above the law — not even the president of the United States.”
On Wednesday, José Calderón, president of the Hispanic Federation, issued a statement in support of the impeachment inquiry. “The allegation that the president attempted to coerce a foreign government to interfere in a U.S. election by withholding U.S. aid in exchange for political favors is of the utmost seriousness and deserves a full and complete investigation by Congress,” the statement reads. “Few things are as important in a democracy as the integrity of the electoral system and charges that the system has been compromised by our own president, no less, strike at the heart of our faith in government. Our community has fought too long and too hard to safeguard our political rights to have the system undermined by those who would put their personal gain above the nation. … President Trump is entitled to a full and fair hearing. He is not entitled, however, to act with callous disregard of our nation's laws and principles. The time has come to make the president accountable for his words and actions. Americans deserve nothing less.”
This story has been updated throughout.