WASHINGTON (AP) — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi launched the House into a formal impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump on Tuesday, acquiescing to mounting pressure from fellow Democrats and plunging a deeply divided nation into an election year clash between Congress and the commander in chief.
The probe centers on whether Trump abused his presidential powers and sought help from a foreign government for his reelection, actions Pelosi said would mark a "betrayal of his oath of office." She declared: "No one is above the law."
Pelosi had long resisted pursuing impeachment, but her caucus moved swiftly in favor of a probe in recent days following reports that Trump asked Ukraine's president to investigate Democratic foe Joe Biden and his son. Her decision sets up her party's most urgent and consequential confrontation with a president who thrives on combat, and it injects deep uncertainty in the 2020 White House race.
Trump, who was meeting with world leaders at the United Nations, called the impending inquiry a "witch hunt" and predicted it would be a "positive for me."
Republican Party of Iowa Chairman Jeff Kaufman issued the following statement after Speaker Pelosi's official announcement:
“Nancy Pelosi and the delusional Democrats have made it very clear -- they are hell-bent on erasing the votes of millions of Americans and derailing Pres. Trump's re-election efforts. Pelosi even admits that their latest call for impeachment is simply because they are desperate to defeat this President. Axne and Finkenauer are the deciding votes in Pelosi’s plan, and they will stop at nothing to overturn the will of their constituents who voted for and strongly support President Trump.”
Democratic Presidential candidate Congressman John Delaney issued the following statement on the inquiry:
"Impeachment is a political process, which has historically been divisive and difficult on the morale of the country. It is a path no American, regardless of party, celebrates the country pursuing. Speaker Pelosi has exercised extremely good judgment on this question thus far, and I agree with her decision today to move forward with an official impeachment inquiry. She deserves our support. The President's behavior, combined with the administration's refusal to cooperate, leaves her no other choice. Our nation can only be as strong as the rules that govern it. My hope is that we come out of these dark times stronger and more united as a country."
Brad Parscale, Trump 2020 campaign manager, also responded to Pelosi's announcement:
“Democrats can’t beat President Trump on his policies or his stellar record of accomplishment, so they’re trying to turn a Joe Biden scandal into a Trump problem. The misguided Democrat impeachment strategy is meant to appease their rabid, extreme, leftist base, but will only serve to embolden and energize President Trump’s supporters and create a landslide victory for the President.”
The following statement was released by Democratic Presidential candidate Tom Steyer:
“I started Need to Impeach almost two years ago because I believed it was important to protect our country from this lawless president. Over 8 million Americans joined in that effort and today their voices are being heard loud and clear — this is their victory. I applaud Speaker Pelosi and Democrats in Congress who are calling for an investigation into Trump’s criminal behavior. No one, not even the President, is above the law and he must be held accountable.
“Removing Trump from office has always been about doing what’s right, not what’s politically convenient. We built a nationwide movement to impeach a lawless president and defend our democracy. This is just the beginning.”
Iowa Republican Congressman Steve King released a video statement in response to Speaker Pelosi's announcement. Here are some excerpts:
“Nancy Pelosi has announced an impeachment inquiry into the President of the United States of America. This is a stunning and astonishing thing for a Speaker to do, who has been resistant to this idea for a long time. It looks to me now like the hard-core leftists, those activists, the Quad Squad, have taken over the agenda of the Democratic caucus in the House of Representatives.”
“Speaker Pelosi said this: ‘for his betrayal of his oath of office, betrayal of our national security, and betrayal of the integrity of our elections.’ Those three things don’t match up to me. It looks to me like the President has not betrayed his oath of office, he’s not betrayed our national security, he’s strengthened our national security in many, many, many ways. Betrayal of the integrity of our elections? How can that be when Robert Mueller didn’t come up with anything. The public saw that whole report.”
“This is an appalling violation of the patriotism that should come from all of us. Each one of them took an oath of office too, and they are violating it if they think that this is a line-up of impeachable offenses. And, by the way, the accuser on Ukraine is an accuser that has no firsthand knowledge and all this information is going to be made available tomorrow by the President of the United States. And we’re going to find out again that he’s been telling the American people the truth, and these other people around here, they are part of the resistance movement and they are undermining this Constitution. They’re putting the Constitution at risk by trying to unseat a duly elected President of the United States through a vicious impeachment movement that came sooner than I expected, and I think it’s going to end up in a flop, and there will be a price paid at the election box.”
To see King's entire statement, click here.
Montana Governor and Democratic Presidential candidate Steven Bullock issued the following statement:
"If the President of the United States used the power of his office to extort a foreign leader into investigating a political opponent, Congress has a responsibility to get answers. If the President abused his office and jeopardized American national security for his own personal gain, then the House needs to impeach him. At some point, this is bigger than Donald Trump — this is about a 243-year experiment called representative Democracy."
Republican Joni Ernst, Iowa's junior U.S. Senator, had this to say about impeachment:
“House Democrats have spent more than two years—since the morning of November 9, 2016—engaging in antics to undermine President Trump. The fact that they are pushing for impeachment is no surprise, as their motives have always been crystal clear. The Senate Intelligence Committee, in a thoughtful and bipartisan manner, is doing its job and looking into the claims by the whistleblower, and I support that effort. Shame on the House Democrats if they use impeachment as an excuse to play politics instead of focusing on issues that affect the livelihoods of Iowans across our state.”
Vermont Senator and Democratic Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders also responded to the impeachment announcement:
"Three months ago, I called for an impeachment inquiry by the Judiciary Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives into the actions and behavior of President Trump. I believed then and I believe now that in Donald Trump we have the most corrupt president in the modern history of this country. I believed then and I believe now that Trump likely engaged in obstruction of justice with regard to the Mueller investigation. I believed then and I believe now that Trump is likely in violation of the emolument clause of the U.S. Constitution and that every single day, unbelievably, he is working to enrich himself at the expense of the taxpayers of this country."
"And most recently, of course, we appear to have a president who unbelievably may have used security funds, funds designed to protect the security of the people of the United States, as a means to gain political dirt on an opponent. These are just some of the issues and there are more that the Judiciary Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives must investigate as part of an impeachment inquiry. And today, I call upon on the Judiciary Committee to demand all of the information that they need from the Trump administration, so that they can go forward. But I think all over this country, we have people, including Republicans, who are sick and tired of a president who believes that he does not have to obey the Constitution of the United States, and that he is above the law. Enough is enough."
Democratic Presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke issued a statement as well:
“I am grateful to Speaker Pelosi for opening an impeachment inquiry into President Trump.
“For more than two years, even as I was running for Senate in Texas, I have been clear that I support impeachment. We all must come to terms with what we face: a lawless president who has obstructed justice and undermined our democracy by inviting a foreign power to intervene in 2016, and who is doing it again in 2020.
“This is a defining moment for our country. I believe our nation will rise to it—but only if we stop worrying about polls and start doing what’s right. Many are concerned that impeachment will further tear this country apart. I believe the opposite—that this process can be what finally begins to unite this nation once again. Because before we are anything else, we are all Americans first. And if we believe no one is above the law, if we believe our democracy is worth defending—from enemies foreign and domestic—then we must impeach President Trump.
“At this defining moment, history is calling on us to do the right thing, and it is on each and every one of us to save this democracy before it’s too late.”
Iowa Congresswoman Abby Finkenauer issued the following statement:
“I have always supported Congress and our House committees in defending our democracy and Constitution. The impeachment inquiry requested today is needed to continue that work. It’s imperative we stand up for our country and hold those accountable who hurt our democracy."
"Whether Republican or Democrat, there’s no question that a president who threatens a foreign leader and our national security for their own personal gain, and uses taxpayer dollars, to do it is not upholding their constitutional responsibilities."
"While the appropriate committees do their work, I will not be distracted from my top priorities of continuing to uplift the needs of Iowans, as we’ve been doing from day one, focusing on common sense solutions to lower the cost of prescription drugs, bringing much needed investment to our crumbling infrastructure, and having the backs of our farmers left behind by an administration that values big oil over renewable fuels. We must stay focused and we must continue to do our jobs to move our country forward.”
RNC Spokesperson Preya Samsundar responded to Pelosi's announcement like this:
“Instead of working for their constituents, Abby Finkenauer and Cindy Axne have shown once again where their loyalties lie – with Nancy Pelosi and the socialist squad. While Democrats look to cancel the votes of Iowans with talks of eliminating the Electoral College and impeachment, the Hawkeye State will continue stand behind President Trump – just like it did in 2016.”