Those reports over a week created a groundswell of support among Democrats for impeachment, with moderates from swing districts joining liberals in calling for an impeachment inquiry.
Pelosi said on Tuesday that those allegations forced her to reconsider her position that impeachment was too divisive for the country.
“The President is making lawlessness a virtue in our country,” Pelosi said at a Tuesday afternoon event at The Atlantic. “We don’t ask foreign governments to help us in our elections. That’s what we tried to stop with Russia. It’s wrong.”
Pelosi later noted that she has long said that “as soon as we have the facts, we’re ready” for impeachment. “Now that we have the facts,” she said. “We’re ready,”
Trump, meanwhile, said that he has authorised the release of the full transcript of his phone call with the Ukrainian President in which Trump is said to have brought up investigating Biden and his son.
“I am currently at the United Nations representing our Country, but have authorized the release tomorrow of the complete, fully declassified and unredacted transcript of my phone conversation with President Zelensky of Ukraine,” Trump tweeted on Tuesday afternoon.
“You will see it was a very friendly and totally appropriate call. No pressure and, unlike Joe Biden and his son, NO quid pro quo! This is nothing more than a continuation of the Greatest and most Destructive Witch Hunt of all time!”
Trump has admitted publicly that he asked Ukraine President Zelensky to probe Biden’s son, who has connections to a business that was under investigation. But he said no pressure was involved. However, The Washington Post has reported that Trump asked his staff to put a freeze on military assistance to Ukraine the week before he made the request to Zelensky.
Biden on Tuesday called for Congress to begin impeachment of Trump if the White House continues to stonewall congressional investigations, including questions regarding reports that Trump asked the Ukrainian president to investigate Biden and his son, Hunter.
“I can take the political attacks. They’ll come and they’ll go and, in time, they’ll soon be forgotten. But if we allow a president to get away with shredding the United States Constitution, that will last forever,” Biden said.
The House plans to vote on Wednesday on a resolution disapproving of the Trump administration’s efforts to block the release of the complaint and the need to protect the whistleblower.
“This is not a partisan matter, it’s about the integrity of our democracy, respect for the rule of law and defending our Constitution,” Pelosi and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said in a statement.
Impeachment has only occurred twice in US history – against Presidents Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton. Neither man was removed from office. President Richard Nixon resigned in 1974 rather than face a House vote on impeachment.
Even if the House votes to impeach Trump, ouster requires a conviction in the Senate, where Republicans have rallied to the President’s defence.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell declined to say on Tuesday what he would do if the House voted for impeachment.
In the House, a segment of Democrats who opposed impeachment have been coming out in favour of impeachment over the past 48 hours. That total that now exceeds 160 out of 235, according to a Washington Post analysis.
Representative John Lewis, an influential member in the caucus, was one of the latest Democrats to back impeachment on Tuesday. The Georgia Democrat, a staunch Trump critic and close Pelosi ally, had declined for months to weigh in on impeachment out of respect for the speaker.
“There comes a time when you have to be moved by the spirit of history to take action to protect and preserve the integrity of our nation. I believe, I truly believe, the time to begin impeachment proceedings against this president has come” Lewis said on the House floor. “To delay or to do otherwise would betray the foundation of our democracy.”
Top House Democratic lawmakers and staff say the questions to be ironed out are more matters of process and timing. Pelosi and top Democrats are privately discussing the creation of a select committee to conduct impeachment, according to multiple lawmakers and congressional aides. Pelosi had spoken to key allies in recent days about establishing a special panel rather than leaving the task with the House Judiciary Committee, said several Democratic officials.
Nothing has been decided, the individuals cautioned, but some members are expected to publicly endorse the move soon.
The officials spoke on the condition of anonymity to freely describe private deliberations. Pelosi’s office declined to comment on the matter.
The conversations, while tentative, underscore the serious shift in Pelosi’s thinking about impeachment in recent days. Pelosi has been reluctant to endorse impeachment, resisting the extraordinary step for months despite pressure from the party’s liberal base and several 2020 Democratic presidential candidates. She has argued that neither the public nor the Republican Party, which controls the Senate, supports impeachment and that could prove politically costly to the moderate Democrats who helped deliver the House majority last year.
The Washington Post