Nancy Pelosi on Thursday accused
The speaker’s charge dramatically escalated the stakes in the impeachment battle as the inquiry moved into the public stage.
Pelosi said the transcript of Trump’s own call with his Ukrainian counterpart along with the ‘devastating testimony’ of top U.S. diplomat in the
Speaker Nancy Pelosi accused Donald Trump of ‘bribery,’ an impeachable offense
Pelosi’s bribery charge against Trump dramatically raises the stakes in the impeachment inquiry
‘The devastating testimony corroborated evidence of bribery uncovered in the inquiry and that the president abused power and violated his oath,’ she told reporters during a press conference on Capitol Hill.
She then pointed out that bribery is in impeachable offense in the U.S. Constitution.
‘It’s in the constitution. You know, talking Latin around here, from anyone. Quid pro quo. Bribery. Bribery. And that is in the constitution attached to the impeachment proceedings,’ she added.
The Constitution – in Article II Section 4 – says the president can be removed ‘from office on impeachment for, and conviction of treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.’
The speaker said the bribe was the nearly $400 million in military assistance the administration with held on the allegation President Trump wanted a statement from the Ukraine that it would investigate the Bidens and unproven charges about the 2016 election.
‘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,’ Pelosi said.
The money, approved by Congress to help the Ukraine combat Russia-backed separatists in the eastern part of the country, was later handed over.
White House officials have pointed out that the Ukraine did receive the U.S. aid and there was no public statement from that country on investigating the 2016 election.
But she wouldn’t say if House Democrats were ready to draft formal articles of impeachment against President Trump.
‘I don’t know that. We haven’t even made a decision to impeach. That’s what the inquiry is about. And when the committees decide that, and they will decide what the articles are.’
She also argued Trump has already admitted to guilt and pointed to his July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
‘I am saying that what the President has admitted to and says “its’s perfect” – I said it’s perfectly wrong. It’s bribery,’ Pelosi said.
The speaker also compared Trump’s actions to those of former President Richard Nixon’s actions in the Watergate scandal that led to impeachment proceedings against him. Ultimately, in 1974, Nixon became the only U.S. president to resign.
‘What President Trump has done on the record in terms of acting to advantage his foreign power to help him in his own election and the obstruction of information about that, the cover up, makes what Nixon did look almost small,’ she noted.
She also pushed back against Republican charges the Kent and Taylor offered second-hand accounts in their testimony.
‘Don’t fall into the secondhand stuff. Really. That is such a fraudulent proposition put forth by the Republicans. That is such a fraudulent proposition. And they know it. That’s why they’re talking about process rather than the substance of what we have heard. I just won’t even dignify what they’re saying in that regard. I just won’t,’ Pelosi said.
Pelosi also praised the testimony of Deputy Assistant Secretary of State George Kent and top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine George Kent
EU Ambassador Gordon Sondland will testify on Wednesday in public
House Democrats held the first public hearings in their impeachment inquiry on Wednesday, starting off with two career diplomats who have worked under both Republican and Democratic presidents.
Democrats are investigating allegations Trump with held U.S. military assistance to the Ukraine until Zelensky promised to investigate charges that Joe Biden, as vice president, interfered into a Ukrainian investigation of Burisma, a gas company that appointed Hunter Biden to its board. Hunter Biden left that position earlier this year.
Neither Biden has been charged with any wrong doing.
Trump also wanted the Ukraine to investigate a debunked conspiracy theory that Ukraine, and not Russia, meddled in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s personal attorney, was one pushing the theory that it was Ukrainians who hacked the Democratic National Committee’s email server in the 2016 election and made it look like the Russians. Trump has asked if the DNC email server is in the Ukraine.
President Trump has denied any wrongdoing.
Taylor stunned listeners at Wednesday’s impeachment hearing when he said an aide of his had overheard the president on a phone call with EU Ambassador Gordon Sondland – a key figure in the alleged Ukraine pressure plot.
According to Taylor’s testimony, the official heard Trump ask Sondland about ‘investigations.’ The member of Taylor’s staff then asked Sondland what Trump thought about Ukraine. The official said Sondland responded that Trump ‘cares more about the investigations of Biden, which [Rudy] Giuliani was pushing for,’ Taylor said.
Trump said he had ‘never heard’ of such a conversation.
‘I know nothing about that, first time I’ve heard it. The one thing I’ve seen that Sondland said was that – he did speak to me for a brief moment and I said no quid pro quo under any circumstances. And that’s true,’ the president said at a press conference Wednesday with the president of Turkey.
‘The other, I’ve never heard this. In any event it’s more second-hand information but I’ve never heard it. I don’t recall – no, not at all, not even a little bit. The only thing, and I guess Sondland has stayed with his testimony that there was no quid pro quo, pure and simple,’ Trump said.
Sondland wrote a text message to another diplomat stating there was no quid pro quo. But he turned in three pages of revised testimony after meeting with House members, saying his memory had been ‘refreshed.’
In the revised testimony, Sondland said he told an aide to Zelensky ‘the resumption of U.S. aid would likely not occur until Ukraine provided the public anti-corruption statement that we had been discussing for many weeks’ – a reference to investigations.
The official that overhead the call, David Holmes, is expected to appear for a deposition behind closed doors Friday.
Additionally, the Associated Press reported that there is a second embassy official who over heard the call between Trump and Sondland, which took place on July 26 – one day after the president’s call with Zelensky.
Sondland is scheduled to testify in public on Wednesday where his lawyer said he will address the allegations made by Taylor in regards to his phone call with the president.