House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announces formal impeachment inquiry

(AP) -- House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has announced the House is moving forward with an official impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump.

Pelosi made the announcement Tuesday from the speaker's office at the Capitol saying "no one is above the law."

The move puts the Democratic speaker's stamp on the investigations that have been underway in the House.

Calls for an impeachment inquiry have intensified following reports that Trump may have sought a foreign government's help in his reelection bid.

Pelosi says the president "must be held accountable."

President Donald Trump reacted swiftly.

Trump notes that Pelosi's announcement comes as he meets Tuesday with world leaders at the United Nations. He tweeted that "the Democrats purposely had to ruin and demean it with more breaking news Witch Hunt garbage. So bad for our Country!"

Calls for an impeachment inquiry have intensified following reports that Trump may have sought a foreign government's help in his reelection bid. Trump insists he has done nothing wrong. He said he'll release a transcript of his phone call with Ukraine's president.

Trump tweeted: "They never even saw the transcript of the call. A total Witch Hunt!"

— Mike Balsamo and Lisa Mascaro.

Speaker Pelosi's comments:

Last Tuesday, we observed the anniversary of the adoption of the Constitution on September 17.

Sadly, on that day, the intelligence community Inspector General formally notified the Congress that the administration was forbidding him from turning over a whistleblower complaint—on Constitution Day. This is a violation of law.

Shortly thereafter, press reports began to break of a phone call by the President of the United States, calling upon a foreign power to intervene in his election. This is a breach of his constitutional responsibilities.

The facts are these: the intelligence community Inspector General, who was appointed by President Trump, determined that the complaint was both of urgent concern and credible. And its disclosure, he went on to say, relates to one of the most significant and important of the Director of National Intelligence's responsibility to the American people.

On Thursday, the Inspector General testified before the House Intelligence Committee, stating that the acting director of national intelligence blocked him from disclosing the whistleblower complaint. This is a violation of law. The law is unequivocal. It says the DNI, Director of National Intelligence, shall provide Congress the full whistleblower complaint.

For more than 25 years, I've served on the Intelligence Committee as a member, as the ranking member, as part of the Gang of Four, even before I was in the leadership. I was there when we created the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. That did not exist before 2004. I was there even earlier in the 90s, when we wrote the whistleblower laws, and continue to write them to improve them to ensure the security of our intelligence and the safety of our whistleblowers. I know what their purpose was and we proceeded with balance and caution as we wrote the laws.

I can say with authority, the Trump administration's actions undermine both our national security and our intelligence and our protections of the whistleblowers—more than both.

This Thursday, the acting DNI will appear before the House Intelligence Committee. At that time, he must turn over the whistleblower's full complaint to the committee. He will have to choose whether to break the law or honor his responsibility to the Constitution.

On the final day of the Constitutional Convention in 1787, when our Constitution was adopted, Americans gathered on the steps of Independence Hall to await the news of the government our Founders had crafted. They asked Benjamin Franklin, 'what do we have—a republic or a monarchy?' Franklin replied, 'a republic, if you can keep it.' Our responsibility is to keep it.

Our republic endures because of the wisdom of our Constitution, enshrined in three co equal branches of government serving as checks and balances on each other. The actions taken to date by the President have seriously violated the Constitution, especially when the president says 'Article Two says I can do whatever I want.'

For the past several months we have been investigating in our committees and litigating in the courts, so the House can gather all the relevant facts, and consider whether to exercise its full Article One powers, including a constitutional power of the utmost gravity—approval of articles of impeachment.

And this week, the President has admitted to asking the president of Ukraine to take actions which would benefit him politically. The actions of the Trump presidency revealed dishonorable fact of the President's betrayal of his oath of office, betrayal of our national security, and betrayal of the integrity of our elections.

Therefore today, I'm announcing the House of Representatives is moving forward with an official impeachment inquiry. I'm directing our six committees to proceed with their investigations under that umbrella of impeachment inquiry. 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, not to place ourselves in the same category of greatness as our founders, but to place us in the urgency of protecting and defending our Constitution from all enemies foreign and domestic. In the words of Ben Franklin, to keep our republic.

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