WASHINGTON (PM) — Speaker Nancy Pelosi declared on Tuesday that the House would begin a formal impeachment inquiry of President Trump, starting a fresh chapter of battle in response to shocking allegations that the president endeavored to enlist a foreign power for his own political gain.
“The actions taken to date by the president have seriously violated the Constitution,” she said after emerging from a meeting of House Democrats in the basement of the Capitol. Mr. Trump, she said, “must be held accountable. No one is above the law.”
The announcement was a remarkable development that displayed after months of caution by House Democrats, who have been separated over using the final remedy to address what they have called flagrant misconduct by the president.
Mr. Trump said on Tuesday that he would authorize the release of a transcript of the conversation, practically daring Democrats to try to find an impeachable offense in a conversation that he has called “perfect.” But Democrats, after months of holding back, demanded the full whistle-blower complaint, even as they pushed toward an expansive impeachment inquiry that could encompass unrelated charges.
The conversations, while provisional, emphasize the serious shift in Pelosi’s thinking about impeachment in recent days.
Pelosi has been hesitant to endorse impeachment, opposing the remarkable step for months notwithstanding pressure from the party’s liberal base and several 2020 Democratic presidential candidates. She has maintained that neither the public nor the Republican Party, which controls the Senate, support impeachment and that could prove politically harmful to the moderate Democrats who helped deliver the House majority last year.
The creation of a special committee is anticipated to come up at a series of Democratic meetings planned for Tuesday afternoon when Pelosi will address her caucus on impeachment for the first time since the news about Trump’s conversations with Ukraine broke.