Pelosi announces impeachment inquiry: 'No one is above the law'

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Pelosi said Trump's behavior is a 'betrayal of his oath of office, betrayal of our national security, and betrayal of the integrity of our elections.'

Speaker Nancy Pelosi emerged from a Tuesday meeting with the Democratic Caucus to announce her full support for an impeachment inquiry into Donald Trump's misconduct.

Trump's actions "have seriously violated the constitution," Pelosi said at a press conference. Further, Trump's behavior is a "betrayal of his oath of office, betrayal of our national security, and betrayal of the integrity of our elections."

"Therefore, today, I'm announcing the House of Representatives is moving forward with an official impeachment inquiry," she stated. "The president must be held accountable. No one is above the law."

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The announcement comes after a flood of Democrats came out in support of such an inquiry, including several freshman Democrats from swing districts.

The momentum toward impeachment comes amid a growing scandal involving Trump, the president of Ukraine, election interference, and unprecedented abuse of power.

In a late June phone call, Trump pressured Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky to open an investigation into his potential 2020 election opponent, former Vice President Joe Biden. Despite no evidence of wrongdoing, Trump alleges that Biden, in 2016, pressured the Ukrainian government to shut down a corruption probe into an energy company. Biden's son, Hunter Biden, sat on the board of the energy company at the time.

Days before his phone call with Zelensky, Trump withheld $400 million in military aid to Ukraine, and then repeatedly pressured Zelensky to open an investigation in order to dig up dirt on his political opponent.

Soliciting campaign assistance from a foreign national is against the law, whether or not there was an implicit or explicit quid pro quo situation with the military aid funding.

The issue came to the forefront when a whistleblower within Trump's own intelligence community alerted other officials to Trump's activities. After a high-ranking Trump official deemed the whistleblower complaint both "urgent" and "credible," the Trump administration was obligated to turn the entire whistleblower file over to Congress. Thus far, the Trump administration has refused to follow the law.

Rather than turn over the entire whistleblower report, Trump announced earlier on Tuesday that he would release a transcript of his call with Zelensky, a move unlikely to satisfy Democrats, let alone the letter of the law.

For months, Pelosi has resisted pressure from many in her caucus to publicly call for an impeachment inquiry. Behind the scenes, she has supported the work of the various investigative committees, including the House Judiciary, Intelligence, and Oversight Committees. In court filings, Pelosi signed off on language in legal arguments suggesting the House was already involved in an impeachment inquiry.

But Tuesday's announcement was a watershed moment, making it the first time the Pelosi publicly declared her support of an impeachment inquiry. Before her announcement, there was speculation as to what an impeachment inquiry would look like. The Washington Post reported that Democratic leaders were considering a select committee to either handle impeachment and/or look into the latest allegations against Trump. Normally, the House Judiciary Committee, currently chaired by Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY), would take the lead on impeachment investigations.

Pelosi's announcement came hours after civil rights icon Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) spoke from the House floor in support of impeachment.

A majority of House Democrats support an impeachment inquiry, and Pelosi's backing adds even more momentum to investigate the depth and breadth of Trump's wrongdoing.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.