House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced on Thursday that she is instructing her deputies to move forward with drafting articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump.
“The President’s actions are a profound violation of the public trust. The President’s actions have clearly violated the Constitution. Our democracy is at stake.” Pelosi said from the Speaker’s Balcony hallway at the U.S. Capitol. It was the same location where, approximately 12 weeks earlier, she announced a formal impeachment inquiry.
The announcement followed a closed-door caucus meeting Wednesday with Democratic lawmakers, which even congressional aides were not allowed to attend. During that meeting, Pelosi emphasized the gravity of the moment, according to a senior Democratic aide. Pelosi also emphasized that every member needed to be able to reach their own conclusion on the issue of impeachment.
Pelosi’s remarks also indicate the speed at which Democrats are operating. On Tuesday, Democrats on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, who had been spearheading the fact-finding component of the inquiry, released their 300-page report alleging that Trump had undermined national security interests by leveraging foreign assistance to Ukraine’s new administration in exchange for extracting a promise of investigating former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter.
On Wednesday, the House Judiciary Committee held its first hearing in the process, inviting four constitutional scholars to testify about whether Trump’s conduct was impeachable. Unsurprisingly, the Democratic witnesses unanimously agreed it was, with the Republican witness dissenting.