House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Tuesday announced a formal impeachment inquiry into President Trump, a dramatic turnaround by the Democratic leader that sets up a constitutional and political clash pitting the Congress against the nation’s chief executive.
“The actions of the Trump presidency have 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 brief remarks. “Therefore, today, I am announcing the House of Representatives is moving forward with an official impeachment inquiry.”
Impeachment is a rare and extraordinary first step that could lead to overturning the decision of U.S. voters in 2016 to elect Trump. Pelosi’s decision foreshadows an intensely partisan fall, triggering pushback from Trump allies with repercussions for the 2020 campaign.
The president immediately lashed out on Twitter.
“Such an important day at the United Nations, so much work and so much success, and the Democrats purposely had to ruin and demean it with more breaking news Witch Hunt garbage. So bad for our Country!” he wrote.
Pelosi’s change of heart comes after days of consulting allies and follows reports that Trump may have pressured a foreign leader to investigate former vice president and potential 2020 campaign rival Joe Biden and his family.
Those reports over a seven-day period created a groundswell of support among Democrats for impeachment, with moderates from swing districts joining liberals in calling for an inquiry.
Meanwhile the Senate called unanimously for the White House to turn over the full whistleblower complaint to the House and Senate Intelligence Committees as Republican Sen. Richard Burr says there will be a bipartisan investigation into the report.
Even as the House is ramping up its investigation into the Trump administration’s dealings with Ukraine, the Senate Intelligence Committee is conducting its own inquiry and is seeking an interview with the whistleblower who filed the initial complaint with the intelligence community’s inspector general, according to a letter obtained by Yahoo News.
A letter seeking to question the still-anonymous whistleblower was sent Tuesday to Andrew Bakaj, the lawyer who represents the official. It was signed by committee chair Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., and Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va. — signifying that the panel is pursuing the politically explosive issue on a bipartisan basis.
“In order to ascertain the appropriate path forward for your client while protecting your client’s privacy, we are writing to request that you make your client available for a closed bipartisan interview with Committee counsel no later than Friday, September 27, 2019, in a mutually agreeable secure location,” the letter reads.
It was not immediately clear whether the White House will agree to let the official be questioned. A committee spokeswoman declined comment. “Since you showed me the letter, I can confirm its authenticity,” wrote Bakaj’s law partner Mark Zaid in an email to Yahoo News. “But I cannot comment on the substance at this time. The letter speaks for itself.”
After the letter was sent, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff said the whistleblower’s lawyer informed him the official “would like to speak to our committee and has requested guidance” from the acting Director of National Intelligence on his appearance, which could come “as soon as this week.”
So, the game begins in earnest. Questions I have:
1) Who's the whistleblower? We didn't find out Deep Throat was FBI associate director Mark Felt for more than 30 years.
2) Does Pelosi have the votes for articles of impeachment? As of today, the answer is no. As of today, Pelosi doesn't the votes for a formal impeachment inquiry, either. The committee votes are there on the House Judiciary and Intelligence Committees to investigate, and that was preceding beforehand without Pelosi's announcement today.
3) What's in the whistleblower report? We may never know. We could find out tomorrow. Who knows?
All kinds of things could happen from here.