American democracy is at stake, House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi
WASHINGTON (Reuters): Warning that American democracy is at stake, House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi directed a House committee on Thursday to draft articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump, a historic step that sets up a fight over whether to oust him from office.
Speaking in sombre tones in a televised statement, Pelosi accused the Republican president of abusing his power and alluded to Britain’s King George III, the monarch against whom the American colonies rebelled in forming the United States in 1776, saying that in the United States, “the people are the king.”
“Our democracy is what is at stake. The president leaves us no choice but to act because he is trying to corrupt, once again, the election for his own benefit. The president has engaged in abuse of power, undermining our national security and jeopardizing the integrity of our elections,” said Pelosi, the top Democrat in Congress.
At the heart of the Democratic-led House’s impeachment inquiry that Pelosi opened in September is Trump’s request that Ukraine launch an investigation targeting Joe Biden. The former vice president is a top contender for the Democratic nomination to face Trump in the November 2020 presidential election.
“Sadly, but with confidence and humility, with allegiance to our founders and our heart full of love for America, today I am asking our chairman to proceed with articles of impeachment,” Pelosi said.
She was referring to Jerrold Nadler, whose House Judiciary Committee has the responsibility of drawing up the formal charges that would later be voted on by the full House.
Two people knowledgeable about the process said the panel could draft and recommend the articles of impeachment to the House as early as Dec. 12. Democrats said lawmakers would be working through the weekend to get them written.
The charges against Trump could include abuse of power, bribery, obstruction of Congress and obstruction of justice.
If the articles of impeachment are passed as expected, that would lead to a trial in the Senate on whether to convict Trump and remove him from office. Republicans control the Senate and have shown little support for his removal.
Trump, who has denied wrongdoing, wrote on Twitter: “The Do Nothing, Radical Left Democrats have just announced that they are going to seek to Impeach me over NOTHING.”
“The good thing is that the Republicans have NEVER been more united. We will win!” Trump said.
Pelosi’s announcement was a clear signal that she believes the Democrats have the votes in the 435-seat House to impeach. She acted after receiving overwhelming support in a meeting with House Democrats on Wednesday night, a source familiar with the meeting said.
The impeachment drama is unfolding at a time of deep partisan divisions in Washington and across the United States that have widened during Trump’s tumultuous presidency.