WASHINGTON — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Thursday that lawmakers will draft articles of impeachment as Democratic lawmakers race toward a full House vote to impeach President Donald Trump, possibly before Christmas.
Speaking at the Capitol Building, Pelosi said testimony and evidence gathered in the past two months show “uncontested” facts that Trump betrayed his oath of office by using his power for his own political gain as the 2020 presidential election year nears.
“The President leaves us no choice but to act, because he is trying to corrupt, once again, the election for his own benefit,” Pelosi said. “The President has engaged in abuse of power undermining our national security and jeopardizing the integrity of our elections.”
Couching her short speech in the history of the impeachment clause, Pelosi said, “Sadly, but with confidence and humility, with allegiance to our Founders and our hearts full of love for America, today, I am asking our chairmen to proceed with articles of impeachment.”
Shortly after her remarks, the House Judiciary Committee sent out notices for a hearing Monday to allow Democratic and Republican lawyers for the Judiciary and Intelligence committees to formally present evidence for and against impeachment charges.
The Judiciary Committee invited the president and White House lawyers to take part in Monday’s hearing and gave them a deadline of Friday to say if they will.
The drafting and approval of articles of impeachment is expected to occur next week and a full House debate and vote is expected to occur during the next week, before lawmakers leave on Dec. 20, lawmakers said Thursday. Pelosi has not announced a date for that final vote.
Trump now faces the prospect of becoming the third U.S. president to be impeached by the House and face a trial in the Senate — if the Democratic majority in the House approves the articles as expected, despite a few Democrats who will join Republicans in voting no.
Trump responded to Pelosi’s announcement by calling impeachment a “big fat hoax.” He tweeted that he is being impeached over two “appropriate (perfect) phone calls with the Ukrainian President,” and urged Democrats to “do it now, fast, so we can get a fair trial in the Senate.”
Trump has the solid support of Republicans. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) accused Democrats of being driven by “partisan animosity” and “their fear of losing an election,” with a timeline to impeach Trump from the day he was sworn in.
At issue in the impeachment is Trump’s request to Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky in a July 25 call to investigate Democrat Joe Biden and his son Hunter while withholding a coveted White House meeting and $391 million in U.S. security aid from Zelensky.
On Tuesday, the impeachment inquiry chaired by the Democratic-led Intelligence Committee approved and sent a 300-page report detailing the case against Trump, and sent it to the House Judiciary Committee as it weighs articles of impeachment.
Republicans produced a 123-page report Monday saying Trump did nothing wrong.
Democrats said they’re debating whether to limit the articles to charges related to Trump’s pressure campaign on Ukraine to investigate Biden or also to include charges based on special counsel Robert Mueller's report’s detailed examination of obstruction of justice.
Pelosi made her announcement a day after three constitutional scholars at a Judiciary Committee hearing argued that Trump’s pressure on Ukraine rose to the level of impeachable offenses of bribery, abuse of power and obstruction of justice.
One scholar said the process is moving too fast with “wafer-thin” evidence.
Pelosi denied Democrats are rushing the process and said the causes for impeachment reach back to the findings of Mueller, whose investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election resulted in no charges on conspiracy or obstruction of justice.
“This has been a couple of years, two-and-a-half, since the initial investigation of the Russian involvement in America's election, which started this and led to other things,” she said.
“Our adversary in this is Russia. All roads lead to Putin,” Pelosi said. “This isn’t about Ukraine, it’s about Russia, who benefited by our withholding of that military assistance.”