Updated: Sep 25, 2019
Whistleblower’s complaint pushes Speaker Pelosi towards impeachment.
By Gabriel Arizon, Editor-in-Chief
Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced an official impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump, Tuesday, claiming that he broke his oath of office by seeking aid from a foreign power to investigate a political opponent.
The impeachment inquiry stems from a whistleblower’s complaint by an intelligence official that alleges Trump pressured Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky during a phone call to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter Biden. A week before the call, the president had acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney hold back $400 million in military aid for Ukraine, according to the Washington Post.
Trump admitted on Sunday to reporters that he spoke with Zelensky about the Biden family, but said it was about corruption and Hunter’s link to a business that was under investigation. Trump denied pressuring Zelensky to investigate the Bidens. According to the New York Post, Ukraine’s Prosecutor General Yuriy Lutsenko found no evidence that Hunter committed any wrongdoings.
“The actions of the Trump presidency revealed [the] dishonorable fact of the president’s betrayal of his oath of office, betrayal of our national security and betrayal of the integrity of our elections,” Pelosi said in a statement. “The president must be held accountable. No one is above the law.”
Trump, currently at the U.N. where world leaders are meeting to discuss the fight against climate change, fired back on Twitter, calling the move “Witch Hunt garbage.” He then tweeted that the complete and unredacted transcript of the phone call would be released on Wednesday.
“You will see it was a very friendly and totally appropriate call,” Trump tweeted. “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!”
Impeachment is the process for prosecuting and removing a president (or other federal officials) from office for bribery, treason or other high crimes and misdemeanors.
Once an impeachment inquiry has been announced, the House Judiciary Committee must investigate whether there is sufficient evidence for an impeachment at all. The members of the committee then decide whether to write articles of impeachment and present them to the House. The House has the power to pass those articles, but the Senate decides on removing the president after holding a trail.
Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton are the only presidents to have been impeached — in 1868 and 1998, respectively — but neither was removed from office.