Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi announced a formal impeachment inquiry over the allegations that President Donald Trump had asked the president of Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter—and over the White House’s subsequent unwillingness to share details of the incident—in the first major step to impeachment since Trump’s presidency began.
The news, which Pelosi delivered at a press conference Tuesday, came after a meeting with House Democrats. “The actions taken to date by the president have seriously violated the Constitution,” Pelosi said. “The president must be held accountable. No one is above the law.”
The inquiry does not necessarily mean the president will be impeached. According to her statement, Pelosi has asked the chairmen of the House committees that have been investigating Trump’s actions to “proceed under that umbrella of impeachment inquiry.” According to the New York Times, those committees would then put together their strongest case for impeachment and send it to the Judiciary Committee. The House then may or may not choose to move forward with articles of impeachment.
The latest scandal began when it was revealed less than two weeks ago that an anonymous intelligence community whistleblower had filed a formal complaint about the White House in August. Soon, it was reported that the complaint had to do with the president himself and was related to a conversation with a foreign leader. Finally, late last week, it was reported that in a July conversation, Trump had allegedly asked the Ukrainian president to investigate Biden and his son—apparently for political gain, and just after the president withheld military aid for the country.
Initially, both the intelligence community and the White House appeared reluctant to share anything about the alleged conversation with Congress. Rep. Adam Schiff, chair of the House Intelligence Committee, threatened legal action in order to obtain the full copy of the whistleblower complaint. The White House, bowing to pressure, announced on Tuesday that it would release a transcript of the conversation, but House Democrats were not appeased, demanding a full recording of the encounter. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer later tweeted that the Senate had voted unanimously to have the complaint provided to Congress.
The president responded to the news with an indignant tweet. “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,” he wrote. “So bad for our Country!” After a thread of tweets complaining about the injustice of it, he ended: “PRESIDENTIAL HARASSMENT!”