WASHINGTON (CN) — A day ahead of the deadline given to the White House to participate, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced Thursday that Democrats plan to bring articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump.
“Today, I am asking our chairmen to proceed with articles of impeachment,” Pelosi told reporters this morning in a surprise statement at the Capitol, referring to Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler and Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff.
Pelosi prefaced her news with a nod to a famous document ridding the colonists of a king.
“When in the course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another,” Pelosi intoned, reciting the start of the Declaration of Independence.
The image of a monarch is one used by multiple federal judges, as well as by the law professors called to testify for the Democrats on Wednesday, to warn about Trump’s assertion of executive power and refusal to accept oversight by House Democrats.
“The facts are uncontested: The president abused his power for his own personal, political benefit at the expense of our national security, by withholding military aid and a crucial Oval Office meeting in exchange for an announcement of an investigation into his political rival," Pelosi said.
In fact, Republican lawmakers have bitterly contested the Democrats’ claims that Trump committed bribery, abuse of power, and other high crimes and misdemeanors by pressuring Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to gin up political investigations.
At a press conference later that morning, the speaker urged reporters to reframe this debate as more than about Ukraine.
“Ukraine was the vehicle of the president's actions,” Pelosi noted, adding those actions ultimately benefited the country’s longtime adversary.
“This is about Russians,” Pelosi continued, threading the needle between the impeachment inquiry and the Mueller report. “Who benefited from that holding that military assistance? All roads lead to Putin. Understand that."
Despite her remarks, Pelosi declined to comment on whether the chairmen might draft articles of impeachment to include the Russia investigation or what the timeline might hold. But the committees appear focused on providing answers to those questions.
The Judiciary Committee set a conference on Monday, allowing both the majority and minority to present presentations about how they view the scandal.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy delivered a rebuttal shortly after Pelosi’s conference ended, confronting the speaker with the conditions for impeachment she articulated months earlier.
“Impeachment is so divisive to the country that unless there’s something so compelling and overwhelming and bipartisan, I don’t think we should go down that path because it divides the country,” Pelosi told reporters in March, a caution not welcomed by the party’s increasingly restless left flank. “And he’s just not worth it.”