Speaker Nancy Pelosi

U.S. House of Representatives

Transcript of Speaker Pelosi, Committee Chairs Announcing Articles of Impeachment

December 10, 2019
Press Release

Washington, D.C. – Speaker Nancy Pelosi joined Chairman of the House Committee on the Judiciary Jerry Nadler, Chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence Adam Schiff, Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee Richard Neal, Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee Eliot Engel, Chairwoman of the House Financial Services Committee Maxine Waters and Chairwoman of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform Carolyn Maloney to announce articles of impeachment of President Trump.  Below is a full transcript:

Speaker Pelosi.  Good morning, everyone.

On this solemn day, I recall that the first order of business for Members of Congress is the solemn act to take an oath to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.

It’s with great respect and gratitude that I thank the Chairs of the committees, the six committees who have been working to help us honor our oath of office.  I also want to thank the staff of those committees and the committee Members for all of their work over this period of time to help us protect and defend.

I want to thank the Chairman of the Judiciary Committee, Mr. Nadler; the Chair of the Intelligence Committee, Mr. Schiff; Chair of the Ways and Means Committee, chairman – all these chairmen – Chairman Richie Neal; the Chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee, Eliot Engel of New York; the Chair of the Financial Services Committee, Maxine Waters of California; the Chair of the Committee on Government Reform and Oversight, Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney.

I also want to acknowledge the important work that was done by our dear and departed, may he rest in peace, Elijah Cummings as Chair of the Oversight Committee.

Now, pleased to yield to the distinguished Chair of the Judiciary Committee, Mr. Nadler.

Chairman Nadler.  Thank you, Madam Speaker.

Over the last several months, the investigative committees of the House have been engaged in an impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump's efforts to solicit foreign interference in the 2020 elections – efforts that compromised our national security and threatened the integrity of our elections.  Throughout this inquiry, he has attempted to conceal the evidence from Congress and from the American people.  

Our President holds the ultimate public trust.  When he betrays that trust and puts himself before country, he endangers the Constitution, he endangers our democracy, and he endangers our national security.  The Framers of the Constitution prescribed a clear remedy for presidents who so violate their oath of office. That is the power of impeachment.  

Today, in service to our duty to the Constitution and to our country, the House Committee on the Judiciary is introducing two articles of impeachment charging the President of the United States, Donald J. Trump, with committing high crimes and misdemeanors.

The first article is for abuse of power.  It is an impeachable offense for the president to exercise the powers of his public office to obtain an improper personal benefit, while ignoring or injuring the national interest.  

That is exactly what President Trump did when he solicited and pressured Ukraine to interfere in our 2020 presidential election, thus damaging our national security, undermining the integrity of the next election and violating his oath to the American people.  These actions, moreover, are consistent with President Trump's previous invitations of foreign interference in our 2016 presidential election.

And when he was caught, when the House investigated and opened an impeachment inquiry, President Trump engaged in unprecedented, categorical and indiscriminate defiance of the impeachment inquiry. 

This gives rise to the second article of impeachment for obstruction of Congress.  Here too we see a familiar pattern in President Trump's misconduct: a president who declares himself above accountability, above the American people and above Congress's power of impeachment, which is meant to protect against threats to our democratic institutions, as the president who sees himself as above the law.

We must be clear, no one, not even the president, is above the law.  

I want to recognize the great contributions of the investigative Chairs, particularly Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, Foreign Affairs Chairman Eliot Engel, Committee on Oversight and Reform former Chairman the late Elijah Cummings and its new Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney, Financial Services Chairwoman Maxine Waters and Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal, who helped lay the foundation for the articles we are introducing today.  I also want to thank my Judiciary Committee colleagues, who are critical in our work to hold the President accountable and in the drafting of these articles.

Later this week, the Judiciary Committee will meet to consider these articles of impeachment and to make a recommendation to the full House of Representatives.  We do not take this action lightly, but we have taken an oath to defend the Constitution.  And unlike President Trump, we understand that our duty first and foremost is to protect the Constitution and to protect the interests of the American people.  That is why we must take this solemn step today.  

Elections are the cornerstone of democracy and are foundational to the rule of law.  But the integrity of our next election is at risk from a president who has already sought foreign interference in the 2016 and 2020 elections, and who consistently puts himself above country.

That is why we must act now.

I want to turn now to Chairman Schiff, who will explain the evidence that supports these articles and the need for us to act with such urgency today.

Chairman Schiff.  The Framers of the Constitution recognized that someday, a president might come to office who would abuse that office, betray the public trust and undermine national security to secure foreign help in his re-election and who would seek to abrogate of the power of Congress to hold him accountable.  They recognize this danger and they prescribed a remedy and that remedy is impeachment.

It is an extraordinary remedy and one that I have been reluctant to recommend until the actions of President Trump gave Congress no alternative.  We stand here today because the President's continuing abuse of power left us no choice.  To do nothing would make ourselves complicit in the President's abuse of his high office, the public trust, and our national security.

The President’s misconduct is as simple and as terrible as this: President Trump solicited a foreign nation, Ukraine, to publicly announce investigations into his opponent and a baseless theory promoted by Russia, to help his re-election campaign.  President Trump abused the power of his office by conditioning two official acts to get Ukraine to help his re-election: the release of hundreds of millions of dollars in military aid that nation desperately needed and a White House meeting with an ally trying to fend off Russian aggression.  

In so doing, he undermined our national security and jeopardized the integrity of our next election. And he does so still.

The evidence of the President's misconduct is overwhelming and uncontested.  And how could it not be when the President’s own words on July 25th, ‘I would like you to do us a favor, though,’ laid so bare his intentions, his willingness to sacrifice the national security for his own personal interest.  

And when the President got caught, he committed his second impeachable act: obstruction of Congress, the very ability to make sure that no one is above the law, not even the President of the United States.

The evidence is every bit as strong that President Trump has obstructed Congress fully, without precedent and without basis in law.  If allowed to stand, it would decimate Congress’s ability to conduct oversight of this President or any other in the future, leaving this President and those who followed to be free to be as corrupt, malfeasant or incompetent as they would like, with no prospect of discovery or accountability.

Now, some would argue, why don't you just wait?  Why don't you just wait until you get the witnesses the White House refuses to produce?  Why not just wait until you get the documents the White House refuses to turn over?

People should understand what that argument really means.  It has taken us eight months to get a lower court ruling that Don McGahn has no absolute right to defy Congress.  Eight months for one court decision.  If it takes us another eight months to get a second court or maybe a Supreme Court decision, people need to understand that is not the end of the process.  It comes back to us and we ask questions because he no longer has absolute immunity and he claims something else, that his answers are privileged and we have to go back to court for another eight or sixteen months.

The argument, ‘Why don't you just wait?’ amounts to this: Why don't you just let him cheat in one more election?  Why not let him cheat just one more time?  Why not let him have foreign help just one more time?  That is what that argument amounts to.

The President's misconduct goes to the heart of whether or not we can conduct a free and fair election in 2020.  It is bad enough for a candidate to invite foreign interference in our political process, but it is far more corrosive for a president to do so and to abuse his power to make it so.  

Despite everything we have uncovered, the President’s misconduct continues to this day, unapologetically and right now.  As we saw when he stood on the White House lawn and he was asked, ‘What did you want in that July 25th call?’ and he said the answer was a simple one.  And not just a simple one on July 25th, but a simple one today, and that is, he still wants Ukraine to interfere in our election to help his campaign.  Even this week, the President’s lawyer was back in Ukraine seeking to revive the same debunked conspiracy theory promoted at the President’s behest.

Which gets us to the final and most pernicious of the arguments that we have heard in the President’s defense.  That the President thinks he can do whatever he wants under Article II, including get foreigners involved in our elections and we should just, to quote the President’s Chief of Staff, ‘get over it.’

Ben Franklin said we have a republic, if we can keep it.  The President and his men say you can't keep it and Americans should just get over it.  Americans don't get to decide American elections any more, not by themselves, not without foreign help.  

For the Members of Congress, this is not a question of fact because the facts are not seriously contested; it is rather a question of duty.  The President's oath of office appears to mean very little to him, but the articles put forward today give us a chance to show that we will defend the Constitution, and that our oath means something to us.