Sep 25, 2019

"Locked and loaded": Washington braces for impeachment battle

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

A president who has always been touchy about his legitimacy is now the fourth American president to face the machinery of impeachment.

Why it matters: Thirteen months out from a presidential election, Congress and the commander-in-chief of a divided nation are formally at war.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced "an official impeachment inquiry" at 5pm Tuesday, with the broadcast networks breaking in across the country:

"The president must be held accountable. No one is above the law. Getting back to our founders in the darkest days of the American Revolution, Thomas Paine wrote, 'The times have found us.' The times found them to fight for and establish our democracy. The times have found us today."
  • With President Trump tweeting peevishly from New York, where he spoke in the morning to the UN General Assembly, Pelosi pointed to a July phone call in which the president is said to have pressed the president of Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden, which could have helped Trump in 2020.

Being there: Around 120 reporters crowded into the hallways in the Capitol basement, waiting for the House Democratic Caucus to disperse from the meeting where Pelosi announced her support for an impeachment inquiry.

  • At the Capitol, House Democrats were relieved, rejuvenated and even overjoyed that for the first time since Pelosi took the gavel in January, the caucus was unified on Trump.
  • "This puts the party in a new direction," said Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), the star of the freshman class. "The power behind that, and the weight behind that adds an urgency and an expeditiousness to the investigations that I don’t believe we would’ve seen."

On the Republican side, Rep. Andy Biggs of Arizona, a member of the Judiciary Committee, said: "A lot of my colleagues are excited about how crazy they think it is. I talked to a lot of people who were like: 'Wow, unbelievable.' I think both sides are getting locked and loaded to do some battle here."

What to watch: Today, the House will vote on a resolution demanding that Trump release the whistleblower complaint regarding the president and Ukraine.

  • Thursday, acting director of national intelligence Joseph Maguire will testify in front of the House Intelligence Committee.
  • House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff said the whistleblower could testify before Congress as soon as this week.

Go deeper: How an impeachment inquiry works

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All 2020 Democrats want to impeach Trump

Julián Castro, Elizabeth Warren, Joe Biden. Photos: Getty Images

All major 2020 Democratic candidates have joined the call to launch an impeachment inquiry against President Trump.

Driving the news: Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced on Sept. 24 that the House will open a formal impeachment inquiry into the president.

Go deeperArrowUpdated Oct 9, 2019

Pelosi on alleged concealing of Trump-Ukraine transcript: "This is a cover-up"

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said at a briefing Thursday that the White House's alleged efforts to conceal information about President Trump's now-infamous phone call with the Ukrainian president amount to a "cover-up."

Go deeperArrowSep 26, 2019

Ukraine whistleblower wants to speak to House and Senate Intel

Sens. Mark Warner and Adam Schiff. Photos: Larry French/Getty Images for SiriusXM; Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call via Getty Images

The intelligence community whistleblower behind the complaint reportedly linked to President Trump and Ukraine has requested to speak to the House and Senate Intelligence committees, their attorney confirmed today.

Why it matters: Congress has yet to hear directly from the whistleblower or be provided the complaint in full by the Trump administration. While Trump has authorized the release of the transcript of his call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, that interaction is said to be only one part of a series of events that make up the complaint.

Go deeperArrowUpdated Sep 25, 2019