Pelosi announces launch of formal impeachment inquiry into Trump

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Tuesday announced the launch of a formal impeachment inquiry into President Trump.

The move follows sustained pressure from the progressive wing of her party that on Tuesday quickly snowballed to include moderates, liberal holdouts, vulnerable Democrats, committee chairs and party icons.

"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 ... The president must be held accountable,” Pelosi said in a 5 p.m. press conference.

The speaker had long resisted calls for impeachment proceedings but as of Tuesday afternoon more than two-thirds of her caucus supported impeachment, with their ranks swelling after recent allegations that Trump made military aid to Ukraine conditional on that nation launching an investigation of former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter.

In the wake of the Ukraine allegations more than two dozen holdouts, including Georgia's Reps. John Lewis and Hank Johnson, as well as seven freshmen members running for re-election in swing districts who published the call in an op-ed for the Washington Post, added their voices to the chorus of support.

“For the past several months we have been investigating in our committees and litigating in the courts so the House can gather all the relevant facts and consider whether to exercise its full Article 1 power, including a constitutional power of the utmost gravity, approval of articles of impeachment,” Pelosi said.

In her remarks, Pelosi quoted Benjamin Franklin describing the then-new government of the United States as “a republic, if you can keep it,” adding, “our responsibility is to keep it."

“Our republic endures because of the wisdom of our constitution enshrined in three coequal branches that act as checks and balances,” Pelosi added. “The president must be held accountable. No one is above the law.”

While Pelosi was speaking Trump in a tweet called the announcement, "Witch Hunt garbage."

"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.

Before Pelosi's official announcement, Trump told reporters an impeachment inquiry would benefit him politically.

"If [Pelosi] does that, they all say that's a positive for me in the election," he said. "You could also say who needs it. It's bad for the country."

Earlier in the day the president had promised to release the transcript of the phone call with Ukraine's president, a move that Democrats who want to see the full whistleblower report say falls short.

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