Appearing in front of a backdrop of a row of American flags, Pelosi said in an announcement covered across cable and almost all of the broadcast networks that “the facts are uncontested: The president abused his power for his own personal political benefit.”
“Our democracy is at stake. The president leaves us no choice but to act because he is trying to corrupt, once again, the election for his own benefit.”
Among the broadcast networks, ABC, NBC and Fox covered Pelosi’s announcement live. CBS stations stuck with regular programming. Pelosi will give a press conference later on Thursday morning and will participate in a town hall Thursday evening.
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Pelosi’s decision to go to the next phase in the impeachment process, coming after five public hearings before the Intelligence Committee and Wednesday’s Judiciary Committee hearing, makes it all the more likely that Trump will be impeached. He would be only the third president to face impeachment. Immediately after Pelosi’s announcement, CNN’s Manu Raju said, “It is all but certain that Donald Trump will be impeached.”
What is unclear is what articles will be drafted by House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler and other Democratic colleagues. Pelosi’s statement suggested that they will include abuse of power and obstruction, but there also is speculation that bribery will be among the charges. The impeachment centers on claims that Trump pressured Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden and his son, Hunter, by dangling the promise of a White House meeting and withholding military aid to the country.
The House Judiciary Committee will next meet on Monday for a hearing for presentations, including from the House Intelligence Committee, which took the lead on the impeachment inquiry.
What was apparent by Wednesday’s marathon Judiciary Committee hearing was that Republicans are unlikely to join Democrats on the committee in voting for impeachment. One-by-one, Republicans blasted the process as unfair and politically motivated, and the culmination of an effort to remove Trump since he first took office.
Democrats are said to be aiming for a vote on impeachment before the full floor of the House before the Christmas break. If it passes, the Senate then would proceed with a trial, presided over by Chief Justice John Roberts. If 2/3 of the senators vote to convict Trump, he would be removed from office, something that has never happened before. But it seems highly unlikely, as 20 Republicans would have to join with all Democrats.
Trump responded on Twitter about an hour after Pelosi’s announcement.
He wrote, “The Do Nothing, Radical Left Democrats have just announced that they are going to seek to Impeach me over NOTHING. They already gave up on the ridiculous Mueller “stuff,” so now they hang their hats on two totally appropriate (perfect) phone calls with the Ukrainian President…This will mean that the beyond important and seldom used act of Impeachment will be used routinely to attack future Presidents. That is not what our Founders had in mind. The good thing is that the Republicans have NEVER been more united. We will win!”
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