House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) announced Tuesday that the House will begin a formal impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump in the wake of a growing scandal that the president withheld nearly $400 million in aid for Ukraine while urging the country's newly elected president to investigate his political rival, Joe Biden.
Pelosi made the announcement that the House would proceed following an all-caucus meeting she held on Tuesday. Until now, the Speaker of the House had been reluctant to pursue impeachment proceedings over worries they would ignite Trump's base and make it more difficult to win elections, including the presidency in 2020. More than two-thirds of Democrats in the House, at least 166 Democrats have come out in support of type of impeachment action with several Democratic presidential candidates, including Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren calling for impeachment proceedings to begin immediately.
Pelosi laid out the reasoning behind the impeachment inquiry, saying that Trump had betrayed his oath of office, including a recent report about a whistleblower complaint that has not been turned over to Congress as required by law.
"This Thursday, the acting DNI will appear before the House Intelligence Committee...He must turn over the whistleblower's full complaint to the committee. He will have to choose whether to break the law or honor his responsibility to the Constitution."
"The intelligence community inspector general formally notified the Congress that the administration was forbidding him from turning over a whistleblower complaint—on Constitution Day," Pelosi said Tuesday afternoon. "This is a violation of law."
"Today, I'm announcing the House of Representatives is moving forward with an official impeachment inquiry," Pelosi said. "The President must be held accountable. No one is above the law."
Trump is the fourth president in the nation's history to face articles of impeachment. President Andrew Jackson and President Bill Clinton are the only two presidents who have been impeached. President Richard Nixon resigned from his position before he was impeached by the House in 1974.
Trump responded to Pelosi's announcement with a series of Tweets.
"Such an important day at the United Nations, so much work and so much success, and the Democrats purposely had to ruin and demean it with more breaking news Witch Hunt garbage. So bad for our Country!" Trump tweeted.
Trump went on to express disbelief while naming the main democratic figures behind the impeachment proceedings.
"They never even saw the transcript of the call. A total Witch Hunt!" Trump wrote.
Earlier on Tuesday, Trump said he would release a transcript of a late July phone call between himself and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and confirmed reports that his administration frozen aid intended for Ukraine. However, he said he froze the money because he wanted other European countries to contribute money as well and did not want the United States to act alone.
"As far as withholding funds, those funds were paid," Trump said. "They were fully paid. But my complaint has always been — and I'd withhold again, and I'll continue to withhold until such time as Europe and other nations contribute to Ukraine, because they're not doing it."
"Very important, I want other countries to put up money," said Trump. "I think it's unfair that we put up the money. Then other people call me. They said, 'Oh, let it go.' And I let it go. But we paid the money, the money was paid."
White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham said in a statement that Democrats were weaponizing politics "when they should be working on behalf of their constituents."
"President Trump is working hard on behalf of our country here in NYC while they continue to scream the word impeachment. Nothing new here," she said in a statement.
Trump called the Democrats' efforts to impeach him, "ridiculous."
“It's a witch hunt,” Trump told reporters Tuesday outside the United Nations where he was delivering a speech to the General Assembly. "They have no idea how they stop me. The only way they can try is through impeachment."
Trump also denied reports that he placed any kind of pressure on the Ukrainian president to investigate Biden.
"I put no pressure on them whatsoever," he said. "I could have. I think it would probably, possibly have been OK if I did. But I didn't. I didn't put any pressure on them whatsoever."
Photo: Getty Images
This is a breaking news update. More details will be added as they become available.