Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi has called on House Democrats to draw up articles of impeachment against Donald Trump, saying the US president left her with “no choice but to act because he is trying to corrupt, once again, the election for his own benefit”.
In a televised statement from the US Capitol on Thursday morning, Ms Pelosi said Mr Trump had “engaged in abuse of power, undermining our national security and jeopardising the integrity of our elections” by withholding military aid from Ukraine in exchange for an investigation into his political rival, former US vice-president Joe Biden.
“His actions are in defiance of the vision of our founders and the oath of office that he takes to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States,” Ms Pelosi said. “Sadly, but with confidence and humility, with allegiance to our founders, and a heart full of love for America, today I am asking our chairmen to proceed with articles of impeachment.”
Ms Pelosi’s comments appeared to be in response to Mr Trump on Wednesday questioning whether Democrats “love our country”.
The speaker’s announcement came one day after the House judiciary committee heard testimony from four leading legal scholars about Mr Trump’s conduct. Three of the academics — invited by Democrats — said Mr Trump had committed impeachable offences, while one — invited by Republicans — said the impeachment inquiry had been rushed and Democrats had failed to prove their case against the president.
Ms Pelosi first announced an impeachment inquiry into Mr Trump in late September. Since then, the House intelligence, oversight and foreign affairs committees have heard testimony from more than a dozen witnesses, first behind closed doors and then in lengthy public hearings.
Ms Pelosi said on Thursday that their testimony showed the “facts are uncontested”.
Republicans have accused the Democrats of running the impeachment inquiry based on the “clock” and the “calendar”, rather than facts.
Doug Collins, the ranking Republican member of the judiciary committee, said on Wednesday that the impeachment probe was a “simple railroad job” and the hearing with constitutional scholars was a “waste of time”.
While Mr Trump is expected to be impeached by the Democrat-controlled House, he is unlikely to be convicted and removed from office in an eventual trial in the Republican-controlled Senate.