US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Thursday said that she has asked the House Judiciary Committee to move forward with the process of drafting articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump, asserting that his actions had left them no choice.
“The president’s actions have seriously violated the constitution. Our democracy is at stake. The president leaves us no chance but to act,” Pelosi was quoted by The Hill as saying in a televised address.
Articles of impeachment represent a crucial next step in the impeachment inquiry. Although Pelosi’s announcement was not unexpected, the development is likely to increase the House’s chances of voting on formal impeachment articles against Trump before Christmas.
The Speaker said that Trump’s contacts with Ukraine are a “threat to the country and one that warrants action”. “Today, I am asking our chairman to proceed with articles of impeachment,” she said. Pelosi accused Trump of misusing office, saying he compromised the national interests of the US.
Pelosi delivered her statement from the Speaker’s Balcony Hallway, the same place where she formally announced the initiation of the impeachment inquiry against Trump in September. Soon after the announcement, the White House hit back at the Speaker, saying the Democrats should be “ashamed”.
“@SpeakerPelosi & the Democrats should be ashamed. @realDonaldTrump has done nothing but lead our country – resulting in a booming economy, more jobs & a stronger military, to name just a few of his major accomplishments. We look forward to a fair trial in the Senate,” White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham said.
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The Speaker’s announcement came a day after the House Judiciary Committee held its first hearing to decide whether to introduce articles of impeachment against Trump.
During the hearing, three out of four constitutional scholars told a key committee that Trump committed impeachable offences by pressuring Ukraine to take action against his political rivals.
However, the fourth legal expert demurred and said that the Democrats are moving too fast. The impeachment inquiry was launched by the House Democrats back in September after a phone call made by Trump to Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky for allegedly asking to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter.
Trump has repeatedly said that he did not engage in a quid pro quo and characterised the impeachment bid as another political witch hunt by the Democrats to reverse the results of the 2016 presidential polls.