House launches formal impeachment inquiry into Trump
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi just announced Congress is launching a formal impeachment inquiry.
"The President must be held accountable. No one is above the law," she said.
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi is making an announcement. You can watch this live above or follow here.
This comes after news that President Trump pressed Ukraine's president in a call to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden's son, Hunter, a person familiar with the situation said.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, speaking to her caucus behind closed doors this afternoon, said she told President Trump this morning to release the whistleblower's complaint, according to two sources in the room.
A separate source in the room said Pelosi added: “Here we are. A moment of truth. Truth is what this has been about all along.” She said, “The DNI has chosen to break the law. The law is clear,” and added, “This is a betrayal of our national security. A betrayal of our election.”
“He’s taken it to another level of betrayal, therefore we’re moving forward with another level of inquiry," Pelosi said.
According to two other sources, Pelosi also said, "We will have an impeachment inquiry."
About the whistleblower's complaint: CNN had earlier reported, citing a source familiar with the case, that the complaint was prompted by concerns over communications between the President and a foreign leader. The alleged whistleblower didn't have direct knowledge of the communications that partly prompted the complaint to the inspector general, an official briefed on the matter told CNN on Thursday. Instead, the whistleblower's concerns came in part from learning information that was not obtained during the course of their work, and those details have played a role in the administration's determination that the complaint didn't fit the reporting requirements under the intelligence whistleblower law, the official said.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and former Vice President Joe Biden have not spoken today or in recent days about the prospect of opening an impeachment inquiry into President Trump, aides to both Democrats say.
Pelosi has been focusing on her Democratic members of Congress, an aide says, holding countless conversations with them. She has not been discussing this with presidential candidates.
Earlier today, Biden said he believes Trump has left Congress "no choice but to initiate impeachment."
Some background: Trump admitted Monday that he delayed aid to Ukraine ahead of a call to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, when he pushed the leader to look into Biden and his son's work.
In a video posted on his official Facebook page from the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly, Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky said the United States supports Ukraine but notably did not mention the ongoing questions on his phone call with President Trump that took place in the summer.
“The most important thing is that we all should understand that the United States supports Ukraine. They do not just help — because we are a different country now, we need to be powerful — that is why support at the geopolitical level and investment support are important,” Zelensky said.
Zelensky also mentioned he plans to invite Trump to Ukraine.
"I expect us to have awesome relations with the United States. I expect us to invite Donald Trump to visit Ukraine. I would like the leaders of the countries to come and see how great Ukraine is. One should believe not the words, but the eyes,” he said.
CNN has repeatedly attempted to reach out to Ukraine's presidential team for comment on the the telephone conversation with Trump.
The number of House Democrats who support an impeachment inquiry into President Trump is increasing.
Of the 235 Democrats in the House, there are at least 161 who've made clear they support starting the impeachment inquiry process, while some have gone further, according to a CNN count.
Rep. Justin Amash of Michigan, a former Republican who has since become an independent, has also called for impeachment proceedings, bringing the total number of representatives to 162.
Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang took to Twitter to react to calls for impeachment.
Yang said he thinks "impeachment is the right path forward."
“Given the President’s latest actions I think impeachment is the right path forward. Asking foreign leaders for political help in return for aid and then suppressing your own agency’s inquiry is egregious. There have to be limits and Congress is right to act," Yang tweeted.
Democratic Rep. Richard Neal said each of the six committees will continue to investigate under the umbrella of an impeachment inquiry.
“The other committees are going to act under the umbrella of formal inquiry,” Neal, the chairman of House Ways and Ways Committee, told CNN who just left House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's office.
Pelosi was scheduled to meet with the chairmen of six committees that are investigating the President, according to Democratic sources.
President Trump announced earlier today that he planned to release a transcript of his call with Ukraine's president tomorrow.
The release of the transcript follows days of internal debate inside the administration over whether it would be a wise move to do so.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and officials close to the White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney argued against releasing the transcript of the call, according to multiple sources, arguing primarily that it would set a bad precedent and undermine Trump's presidential powers to conduct foreign policy.
But others — including Attorney General Bill Barr — encouraged Trump to lean into the sunlight. Attorneys at the Department of Justice and in the White House Counsel's Office advocated for the release of the transcript since last Thursday, according to an official briefed on the matter.
That debate, and Trump's competing instincts on the issue, often played out in public view.
On Sunday news programs, Pompeo argued "it wouldn't be appropriate" to release calls between Trump and another foreign leader except under "the most extreme circumstances." And Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said it "would be a terrible precedent.
But hours later, Trump argued it would be "fine" to release the transcript — even as he took two more days to make up his mind.