Nov 14, 2019

Pelosi says Trump has admitted to "bribery" with Ukraine

Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Thursday that the testimony by acting U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Bill Taylor and State Department official George Kent was "devastating," and that it "corroborated evidence of bribery" that President Trump himself has admitted to.

Why it matters: In Pelosi's first press conference since the public phase of the impeachment inquiry began, the speaker claimed that what's already on the record about Trump's conduct "makes what Nixon did look almost small."

  • The bribery language, as opposed to "quid pro quo," reflects a pivot in messaging Democrats intend to deploy in order to make the allegations easier to understand.
  • Pelosi cautioned, however, that the party hasn't yet decided whether to impeach.
  • She also dismissed Republicans' criticism of secondhand testimony by witnesses as "fraudulent," pointing out that the White House has blocked all of the officials who would have firsthand knowledge of the allegations from testifying.

The exchange:

REPORTER: You talked about bribery a second ago. That's a very serious charge. 
PELOSI: It's in the Constitution. You know, we're talking Latin around here. E pluribus unum — from many, one. Quid pro quo — bribery. Bribery. And that is in the Constitution attached to the impeachment proceedings. 
REPORTER: What was the bribe here? 
PELOSI: The bribe is to grant or withhold military assistance in return for a public statement of a fake investigation into the elections. That's bribery. 
REPORTER: Are you looking at an article of impeachment — ?
PELOSI: We haven't even made a decision to impeach. That's what the inquiry is about. And when the committees decide that, they will decide what the articles are. But I am saying that what the president has admitted to and says it's perfect. I said it's perfectly wrong. It's bribery. 

Go deeper: Highlights from the first public impeachment hearing

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The state of play: Pelosi is expected to bring a vote on impeachment to the House floor.

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