House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Thursday the House was proceeding with articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump, a historic step that is likely to make Trump the third President in US history to be impeached.
'Today, I am asking our chairmen to proceed with articles of impeachment,' Pelosi said in a brief address outside her office, the same location where she announced Democrats would open the impeachment inquiry two months ago. 'The President leaves us no choice but to act because he is trying to corrupt once again the election for his own benefit.'
The speaker's announcement is the clearest signal yet that Democrats are moving swiftly to impeach the President before Christmas.
The House Judiciary Committee announced later Thursday that its next impeachment hearing will be Monday, December 9, at 9 a.m. ET., where it will hear evidence from the staff counsels of both the House Intelligence and Judiciary committees.
The House Intelligence Committee on Tuesday released a 300-page report detailing the findings of the House's two-month investigation into Trump and Ukraine, while the Judiciary panel has investigated obstruction of justice allegations from former special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation. The Monday hearing suggests that the Mueller charges could be included in the articles of impeachment brought forward against the President.
In a sign of the tensions on Capitol Hill as impeachment moves forward, Pelosi reacted angrily at the end of her press conference Thursday to a shouted question about whether she hated the President, returning to the podium to condemn the implication.
'As a Catholic, I resent your using the word 'hate' in a sentence that addresses me. I don't hate anyone,' Pelosi said, adding: 'So don't mess with me when it comes to words like that.'
Pelosi's direction to Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler and other committee chairs to draft articles of impeachment comes one day after the Judiciary Committee held its first impeachment hearing, where legal experts testified about whether Trump's conduct was impeachable.
Pelosi argued that the case against Trump is clear.
'The facts are uncontested. The President abused his power for his own personal political benefit at the expense of our national security by withholding military aid and a crucial Oval Office meeting in exchange for an announcement of an investigation into his political rival,' she said.
Trump tweeted ahead of Pelosi's announcement Thursday that the Democrats should quickly impeach him so they could move onto the Senate trial, where Republicans have a majority.
'They have no Impeachment case and are demeaning our Country,' Trump said. 'But nothing matters to them, they have gone crazy. Therefore I say, if you are going to impeach me, do it now, fast, so we can have a fair...trial in the Senate, and so that our Country can get back to business.'
White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham said in a statement that Democrats were impeaching the President because they 'cannot defeat him at the ballot box.'
'Democrats in Congress have clearly abused their power,' she said. 'Democrats in Congress have lied to the American people. Democrats in Congress have made a mockery of the law.'
The House Judiciary Committee's Monday hearing to receive evidence means the panel could consider and approve articles of impeachment by the end of next week. Democrats on the committee have been asked to stay in Washington this weekend to prep for the upcoming proceedings.
Pelosi plans to continue meeting with her members and getting their input on articles of impeachment in an effort to also help her understand where the votes are, according to Democratic sources. She met with a small group of Democrats in the basement of the Capitol following her speech Thursday and discussed the necessity of moving forward, attendees said. She met later Thursday with the committee chairs who have been investigating the President.
Democrats are considering bringing multiple articles of impeachment against the President, including abuse of power and bribery for his actions toward Ukraine, obstruction of Congress for stonewalling the investigation and obstruction of justice stemming from the allegations against Trump detailed in the Mueller report.
Rep. Hakeem Jeffries of New York, a member of House Democratic leadership, said Thursday it 'remains to be seen' if Mueller-related charges will be included in the articles of impeachment.
The House Judiciary Committee, which took up the obstruction of justice investigation, included questions about Mueller and obstruction of justice at Wednesday's hearing. Many Democrats want Mueller's documented episodes of obstruction of justice to be part of the Democrats' impeachment case, arguing that ignoring Mueller for Ukraine would give the President's conduct toward the special counsel's investigation a pass.
But some House Democrats in Trump-leaning districts were wary about impeachment including the Mueller allegations, as there was a bloc of Democrats who only backed the impeachment inquiry when it became narrowly focused on the President's dealings with Ukraine.
While the Judiciary Committee will be tasked with drafting and considering the articles of impeachment, the ultimate decision about what to include is expected to come down to a small group, which includes the speaker, Nadler and House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff of California. And it will be a closely held secret until it is unveiled.
Pelosi said at her press conference Thursday that she would leave it up to the committee chairs to decide the specifics of what's included in the impeachment articles, and insisted she wasn't concerned about blowback that moderates could face over impeachment.
'This has absolutely nothing to do with politics,' Pelosi said.
Republicans have continued to slam the impeachment process as an unfair process that's predetermined to try to overturn the results of the 2016 election, and their attacks on the Democrats will only ratchet up as an impeachment vote gets closer to reality.
'Speaker Pelosi just unilaterally decided to proceed with articles of impeachment. Even after yesterday's disastrous hearing,' tweeted House Minority Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana. 'She proved what we already knew: She doesn't care about facts or truth. Dems have no case. She's rushing because she knows she's lost public support.'
Trump's tweets Thursday included a call for Republicans in the Senate to call witnesses that Democrats have not allowed in the House, including Schiff, former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden — and even Pelosi.
'We will have Schiff, the Bidens, Pelosi and many more testify, and will reveal, for the first time, how corrupt our system really is. I was elected to 'Clean the Swamp,' and that's what I am doing!' he said.
This story has been updated with additional developments Thursday.