Speaker Nancy Pelosi, scheduled to make a statement on impeachment at about 5 p.m. Tuesday, might have given away her view that Democrats are prepared to move toward impeaching President Donald Trump during an appearance at The Atlantic Festival.
“As soon as we have the facts, we’re ready,” she said. “Now that we have the facts, we’re ready — for later today.”
Later today was a reference to a 4 p.m. Democratic Caucus meeting to discuss next steps on impeachment and a statement Pelosi plans to make afterward at about 5 p.m.
What exactly Democrats are ready for is still not clear. Are they ready to vote on articles of impeachment? Ready to establish a more formal impeachment inquiry than the one the Judiciary Committee claims it has been conducting for months?
The New York Times reported Tuesday afternoon that Pelosi plans to announce on Tuesday that the House will begin a formal impeachment inquiry.
Jeffrey Goldberg, editor in chief of The Atlantic, opened his interview with Pelosi by asking whether she thinks the allegations that Trump tried to pressure Ukraine to investigate his potential 2020 rival, Democratic presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden, by withholding U.S. aid to the country was an impeachable offense.
Pelosi declined to use that phrase, but said if the allegations are true, “that would be wrong.”
“It’s really sad to think that our president would perform an impeachable offense. You know, it’s hard. It’s hard to say we’ve gotten to that,” she said.
“What would be an impeachable offense would be that that is proven in an investigation. And we have to have an investigation,” Pelosi added, clarifying that she thinks the term impeachable offense “is a verdict.”
Pelosi also provided an important distinction: that for the president to have pressured a foreign government to investigate a political rival to be impeachable, it need not include a quid pro quo like the allegations Trump held back U.S. military aid.
“There is no requirement there be a quid pro quo in the conversation,” she said.
If the president sought help from a foreign government in his campaign, “that is self evident that it is not right,” she said. “We don’t ask foreign governments to help us in our elections. That’s what we tried to stop with Russia. It’s wrong.”
Pelosi said Trump called her earlier Thursday before addressing the United Nations General Assembly.
“The president called me this morning about gun violence. He said we’re getting close to a solution,” she said.
Pelosi acknowledged that while that is why Trump called, the conversation “segued into other things,“ which she declined to detail.