Pelosi, who accused the president of abusing his power for personal political gain, announced her request in a brief statement to the press.
“Sadly, but with confidence and humility, with allegiance to our founders and a heart full of love for America, today I am asking our chairman to proceed with articles of impeachment,” Pelosi said.
“The president abused his power for his own personal political benefit at the expense of our national security by withholding military aid and crucial Oval Office meeting in exchange for an announcement of an investigation into his political rival,” she said. “Our democracy is what is at stake. The president leaves us no choice but to act.”
In a closed-door meeting with House Democrats on the day prior to the announcement, Pelosi asked, “Are you ready?” According to those in the room, the answer was a resounding “yes.”
Pelosi made the announcement two days after Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee released and approved a report summarizing the findings from weeks of impeachment hearings. The 300-page report document contains no firsthand evidence showing that Trump directed anyone to carry out the scheme that’s alleged by the Democrats.
An hour prior to Pelosi’s announcement, Trump urged the Democrats to move forward with impeachment quickly so he can have a fair trial in the Senate.
“They have no Impeachment case and are demeaning our Country. But nothing matters to them, they have gone crazy. Therefore I say, 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 wrote on Twitter.
“We will have Schiff, the Bidens, Pelosi and many more testify, and will reveal, for the first time, how corrupt our system really is. I was elected to ‘Clean the Swamp,’ and that’s what I am doing!”
…..trial in the Senate, and so that our Country can get back to business. We will have Schiff, the Bidens, Pelosi and many more testify, and will reveal, for the first time, how corrupt our system really is. I was elected to “Clean the Swamp,” and that’s what I am doing!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 5, 2019
Hours after Pelosi’s announcement Trump told a reporter who asked whether he was worried about impeachment, “No, not at all. It’s a hoax. It’s a hoax. It’s a big fat hoax.”
White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham said Pelosi is ignoring “the needs of the American people” for “her selfish political desires.”
“Democrats’ sham impeachment is a blatant, purely partisan attempt to overturn the results of a free and fair election. By their own admission, Democrats say they have to ‘impeach the President’ because they cannot defeat him at the ballot box,” Grisham said in a statement.
The Democrats allege that Trump solicited election interference from a foreign power when he asked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to “look into” the firing of Ukrainian Prosecutor General Viktor Shokin. Former Vice President Joe Biden, a 2020 election contender, has bragged about forcing Shokin’s ouster by threatening to withhold $1 billion in loan guarantees.
Weeks before Shokin was forced to submit his resignation in February 2016, Shokin had seized the assets of Mykola Zlochevsky, the owner of Burisma, a Ukrainian gas company. At the time Joe Biden exerted the pressure, his son Hunter Biden held a paid position on the board of Burisma.
The Democrats further allege that Trump withheld security assistance and the prospect of a White House meeting to pressure Zelensky to investigate the Bidens. Zelensky has said he didn’t feel pressured and that there was no quid pro quo. Trump has denied any wrongdoing.
In her brief announcement, Pelosi referenced statements from the Founding Fathers, as well as the Dec. 4 public testimony by legal scholars.
Three legal scholars called by the Democrats told the House Judiciary Committee on Dec. 4 that Trump’s attempts to have Ukraine investigate a political rival constitute an impeachable offense. A fourth expert, called by the Republicans, testified that Democrats are rushing the process, making the current impeachment proceeding the shortest in history and based on the “thinnest” evidence in modern times. Moving toward impeachment now would amount to an abuse of power by the Democrats, the expert said.
During the closed-door meeting with Pelosi, the Democrats delivered a standing ovation to Rep. Adam Schiff, who has led the impeachment proceedings as the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee.
The Democrats’ impeachment report revealed that Schiff had obtained the records of phone calls involving Intelligence Committee ranking member Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), Republican committee staffers, the president’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, and investigative journalist John Solomon. The Wall Street Journal’s editorial board lambasted the move in an opinion piece on Dec. 4.
House Intelligence Committee Republicans published a report of their own, highlighting that the evidence gathered by the Democrats consists entirely of hearsay and presumptions. For example, the “bombshell” claim of a quid pro quo made by Ambassador Gordon Sondland is based on a presumption that Sondland made on his own, according to his testimony.
White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham wrote on Twitter that Pelosi and 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,” she wrote. “We look forward to a fair trial in the Senate.”
.@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.
— Stephanie Grisham (@PressSec) December 5, 2019
The House Judiciary Committee could vote on the articles of impeachment as soon as next week; a vote in the full House could happen by Christmas. The matter would then move to the Senate for a trial in 2020.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.