Hours before she announced Congress was launching a formal impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi offered a simple reason for why she's finally moved forward: the public appears to comprehend the gravity of the Ukraine scandal.
As she spoke with The Atlantic's editor-in-chief, Jeffrey Goldberg, at an event on Tuesday afternoon before her big announcement, Pelosi said that of all the controversies the Trump administration has faced so far "this one is the most understandable by the public."
"If we have to honor our oath of office to support and defend the Constitution of the United States from all enemies, foreign and domestic, that's what we'll have to do. But we have to have the facts," Pelosi said. "That's why I've said, soon as we have the facts, we're ready."
Pelosi then added: "Now we have the facts. We're ready… for later today."
The House Speaker for months pushed back on growing calls for impeachment, contending the process would be too divisive and expressing concerns it could backfire on Democrats in the 2020 election.
Pelosi faced particular pressure to get the ball rolling on impeachment in relation to former special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian election interference.Read more: Trump releasing the transcript of his Ukraine call is a distraction from him withholding the whistleblower complaint from Congress
But the Mueller probe was a slow-moving inquiry that occurred over the course of roughly two years, opening the door for numerous conflicting narratives that have fueled ongoing misconceptions about the special counsel's findings. And Mueller's report on the investigation was hundreds of pages and full of legal jargon, which helps explain why polls have showed only a small percentage of Americans read it.
The Ukraine scandal is tied to a whistleblower complaint from an intelligence official about Trump
The Ukraine scandal is linked to a whistleblower complaint filed by an intelligence official in mid-August, and though the Trump administration has stonewalled Congress in obtaining the complaint the details surrounding it have rolled out in a far more rapid and coherent fashion than the Mueller investigation. (Though that may change per recent reports.)
Hence, roughly a month and a half after the complaint was submitted, Pelosi on Tuesday said, "Today I'm announcing the House of Representatives is moving forward with an official impeachment inquiry. I'm directing our six committees to proceed with their investigations under that umbrella of an impeachment inquiry. The president must be held accountable. No one is above the law."The whistleblower complaint reportedly pertains to multiple actions from Trump, but the primary focus thus far has been on a conversation he had with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in late July, according to reports.
According to a recent Wall Street Journal report, Trump in the call repeatedly urged Zelensky to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter Biden, over the latter's ties to a Ukrainian gas company.
Trump and his allies, including his lawyer Rudy Giuliani, have made the case that Biden inappropriately pressured Ukraine to fire a prosecutor who at one point was investigating the gas company Hunter was on the board of. There is no evidence of any wrongdoing on the part of either Biden.Meanwhile, Trump on Sunday admitted he talked to Zelensky about investigating Biden.
We had a great conversation," Trump told reporters. "The conversation I had was largely congratulatory. It was largely corruption — all of the corruption taking place. It was largely the fact that we don't want our people, like Vice President Biden and his son, creating to the corruption already in the Ukraine."
Congressional lawmakers are concerned Trump dangled military aid over Ukraine in order to coerce it to investigate Biden. Trump has acknowledged he moved to put the brakes on roughly $400 million in military aid to Ukraine about a week before the call, but has pushed against the notion he did so as part of a quid pro quo effort.