WASHINGTON — House Democrats announced two articles of impeachment Tuesday against President Donald Trump — abuse of power and obstruction of Congress -- pushing toward historic votes over charges he corrupted the U.S. election process and endangered national security.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi, flanked by the chairmen of the impeachment inquiry committees, stood at the Capitol in what she called a “solemn act.'' Voting is expected in a matter of days in the Judiciary Committee and by Christmas in the full House.
"He endangers our democracy, he endangers our national security," said Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., the Judiciary chairman announcing the charges before a portrait of George Washington. “Our next election is at risk... That is why we must act now.”
The charges unveiled Tuesday stem from Trump's pressure on Ukraine to announce investigations of his political rivals as he withheld aid to the country.
Trump tweeted ahead of the announcement that impeaching a president with a record like his would be “sheer Political Madness!”
The outcome, though, appears increasingly set as the House prepares for voting, as it has only three times in history against a U.S. president.
In drafting the articles of impeachment, Pelosi is facing a legal and political challenge of balancing the views of her majority while hitting the Constitution’s bar of “treason, bribery or other high crimes and misdemeanors.”
Some liberal lawmakers wanted more expansive charges encompassing the findings from former special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe of Russian interference in the 2016 election. Centrist Democrats preferred to keep the impeachment articles more focused on Trump’s actions toward Ukraine. House Democrats have announced two articles of impeachment charging President Donald Trump with abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.
Democratic leaders are laying out next steps after their impeachment inquiry determined Trump put U.S. elections and national security at risk when he asked Ukraine to investigate his rivals, including Democrat Joe Biden, while withholding needed military aid. They say he then tried to obstruct Congress’ investigation.
Trump, meanwhile, insisted he did “NOTHING" wrong and that impeaching a president with a record like his would be “sheer Political Madness!”
When asked if she has enough votes to impeach the Republican president, Pelosi leader said she would let House lawmakers vote their conscience.
“On an issue like this, we don’t count the votes. People will just make their voices known on it,” Pelosi said at The Wall Street Journal CEO Council. "I haven’t counted votes, nor will I.”
The outcome, though, appears increasingly set as the House prepares to vote, as it has only three times in history against a U.S. president.
Trump, who has declined to mount a defense in the impeachment proceedings, tweeted Tuesday just as the five Democratic House committee chairmen prepared to make their 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! #2020Election,” he wrote on Twitter.
Democrats say Trump abused his power in a July 25 phone call when he asked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy for a favor in investigating Democrats. That was bribery, they say, since Trump was withholding nearly $400 million in military aid that Ukraine depended on to counter Russian aggression.
Pelosi and Democrats point to what they call a pattern of misconduct by Trump in seeking foreign interference in elections from Mueller's inquiry of the Russia probe to Ukraine.
In his report, Mueller said he could not determine that Trump’s campaign conspired or coordinated with Russia in the 2016 election. But Mueller said he could not exonerate Trump of obstructing justice in the probe and left it for Congress to determine.