Nancy Pelosi on Thursday (December 5) called on Congress to draft articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump.
(SOUNDBITE) (English) U.S. DEMOCRATIC SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE NANCY PELOSI, SAYING: "Our democracy is what is at stake.
The president leaves us no choice but to act." The Democratic Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives's televised morning announcement ushers in the next phase of a fast-moving impeachment inquiry in Congress.
It comes just a day after the House Judiciary Committee heard testimony from legal scholars over whether Donald Trump's alleged misconduct merited impeachment.
And it sets up a vote by the full House on impeachment before the Christmas holiday.
(SOUNDBITE) (English) U.S. DEMOCRATIC SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE NANCY PELOSI, SAYING: "The facts are uncontested.
The president abused his power for his own personal political benefit, at the expense of our national security by withholding military aid, and a crucial oval office meeting in exchange for an announcement of an investigation into his political rival." The Speaker was widely expected to move forward, but Thursday's announcement punctuates Pelosi's shift in favor of impeachment over the past year.
(SOUNDBITE) (English) U.S. DEMOCRATIC SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE NANCY PELOSI, SAYING (FEBRUARY 28): "But, again, impeachment is a divisive issue in our country." She spent the first months of the year fending off calls for impeachment from within her own caucus.
But a whistleblower complaint about Trump's dealings with Ukraine - corroborated by a White House telephone summary and numerous career officials - changed things for the Speaker.
A parade of U.S. officials testified to Congress that Trump tried to pressure Ukraine into opening politically motivated investigations, while withholding military aid.
On a phone call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, Trump asked Zelensky to probe a company linked to Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden's son, as well as a discredited conspiracy theory about the 2016 election.
And where Pelosi initially appointed committee chairmen to lead the Democrats' charge, on Thursday she put her stamp of approval on the process.
(SOUNDBITE) (English) U.S. DEMOCRATIC SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE NANCY PELOSI, SAYING: "Today, I am asking our chairmen to proceed with articles of impeachment." [FLASH] (SOUNDBITE) (English) U.S. PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP, SAYING: "It's a disgrace to our county." (SOUNDBITE) (English) U.S. REPUBLICAN REPRESENTATIVE DOUG COLLINS, SAYING: "This impeachment is not really about facts." Donald Trump and his Republican Party defenders have decried the process as a partisan effort to remove an elected president.
(SOUNDBITE) (English) LAW PROFESSOR JONATHAN TURLEY, SAYING: "It's wrong because this is not how you impeach an American president." Law professor Jonathan Turley, the lone Republican witness at Wednesday's (December 4) hearing said he believed that Congress was moving too quickly with impeachment, and that the evidence did not yet merit such an effort.
(SOUNDBITE) (English) LAW PROFESSOR JONATHAN TURLEY, SAYING: "To impeach a president on this record would expose every future president to the same type of inchoate impeachment." Trump on Twitter Thursday said he welcomed the chance to defend himself.
He wrote, "if you are going to impeach me, do it now, fast, so we can have a fair trial in the Senate, and so that our country can get back to business." The Republican-controlled Senate is unlikely to vote to remove the president.