Setting up a history-making vote sometime in the near future, Democratic leaders in the House of Representatives on Tuesday announced two articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump over his role in the Ukraine scandal.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and a group of committee chairs said at a news conference they would move forward with charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.
“Today in service to our duty to the Constitution and our country, the House committee introduces two articles impeachment charging Donald Trump with committing high crimes and misdemeanors,” said New York Rep. Jerry Nadler, the chair of the House Judiciary Committee.
Trump has been under investigation by the House for months after he lobbied Ukraine to investigate his political rivals. He is accused of allegedly pressuring Ukraine’s government to do his bidding while withholding American support, including some $400 million in military aid for Ukraine in its conflict with Russia.
Nadler said Tuesday that Trump’s actions were “efforts to solicit foreign interference in the 2020 elections” which “compromise our national security and threatened the integrity of our elections.”
The House Judiciary chair also said that throughout the impeachment inquiry, Trump has attempted to conceal evidence from both Congress and the public.
While the president steadfastly maintains he did nothing wrong, even boasting of “perfect” behavior toward Ukraine, government officials called to testify before the House have broadly corroborated the case against him.
On Tuesday, following the Democrats’ announcement, he tweeted, “WITCH HUNT!”
In another tweet, he called Nadler’s comments about him “ridiculous.”
Republicans in Congress have mounted shifting defenses of the president, including citing what they say are inconsistencies and weaknesses in certain witnesses.
The White House refused to participate in the House impeachment inquiry, though other government officials have been called to testify.
Trump has been vocal about the investigation on Twitter, and his administration has called the probe a partisan a “sham.”
Rep. Nadler said Tuesday that the Judiciary Committee would vote on the articles this week. Should they pass, as anticipated, the process would move to the full House.
Analogous to charges, the articles of impeachment will then have to be approved by a majority of the House, which is also widely expected. A timeline on that vote remains unclear, though votes are scheduled over several days before Christmas.
After that, President Trump will stand trial in the Senate. His conviction, by a two-thirds majority vote, is far from certain as Republicans there have shown little public interest in engaging with the case, which they’ve framed as an act of revenge for Democrats’ loss in 2016.
Trump is only the fourth president in history to face impeachment: Presidents Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton were both impeached but acquitted in the Senate. President Richard Nixon resigned on the verge of a House impeachment vote rather than be tried.
“The evidence is overwhelming,” Rep. Adam Schiff said Tuesday, speaking after Rep. Nadler. “We will defend the Constitution. Our our oath means something to us.”
Trump defended himself again early Tuesday morning, before the House Democrats’ announcement.
“To Impeach a President who has proven through results, including producing perhaps the strongest economy in our country’s history, to have one of the most successful presidencies ever, and most importantly, who has done NOTHING wrong, is sheer Political Madness!” he wrote.
Rep. Nadler framed it differently.
“Our president holds the ultimate public trust,” he said Tuesday. “When he betrays that trust and puts himself before country, he endangers the Constitution, he endangers our democracy and he endangers our national security. The framers of the Constitution prescribed a clear remedy for presidents who so violate their oath of office. That is the power of impeachment.”