"The actions of the Trump presidency revealed the dishonorable fact of the President's betrayal of his oath of office, betrayal of our national security and betrayal of the integrity of our elections," Pelosi said in a brief speech on Capitol Hill.
The House Speaker for months has been reluctant to embrace an impeachment effort to try to remove Trump from office, therefore her announcement marks a historic and possible game-changing move by the Democratic party. Dozens of House Democrats, many from moderate or Trump-won districts, have announced their support over the past 48 hours.
As soon as the announcement was made Trump took to Twitter to denounce the decision as "presidential harassment," saying that the Democrats have "never seen the transcript of the call."
Trump on Tuesday confirmed he had withheld nearly US$400 million in U.S. aid to Ukraine but denied he did so as leverage to get Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to initiate an investigation that would damage the presidential nomination of Joe Biden.
The controversy came to light after a whistleblower from within the U.S. intelligence community lodged a complaint with an internal watchdog about Trump’s conversation with Zelenskiy.
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff said his panel is communicating with an attorney representing the whistleblower and that individual is likely to testify this week.
Moving forward with an impeachment inquiry isn’t an act of political expediency -- it’s an act of constitutional responsibility. The occupant of the White House has shown time and time again that he thinks he’s above the law.
The U.S. president, who has withstood repeated scandals since taking office in January 2017, said a “complete, fully declassified and unredacted” transcript of the July 25 call would be released on Wednesday.
He went on to say the transcript would show the call was “totally appropriate,” and that he had not pressured Zelenskiy to investigate Biden and that there had been no “quid pro quo” for U.S. aid in exchange for a probe.
Under the U.S. Constitution, the House has the power to impeach a president for “high crimes and misdemeanors” and the Senate then holds a trial on whether to remove the president from office. No president has ever been removed from office through impeachment. Democrats currently control the House and Republicans control the Senate.