Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi said Saturday that she is heartbroken and prayerful as House Democrats move forward with their impeachment inquiry and that President Donald Trump's actions left her no other choice.
"This is a very sad time for our country. There is no joy in this," she said. "We must be somber, we must be prayerful and we must pursue the facts further to make a decision as to, Did this violate the Constitution of the United States? Which I believe it did."
Pelosi's appearance at the Texas Tribune Festival in Austin on Saturday comes just four days after she announced the U.S. House of Representatives would pursue a formal impeachment inquiry of Trump.
"I'm heartbroken about it. I would just have hoped that there would be something exculpatory, something that would say, 'This is not what it seems to be,' but that's not where we are right now," she added. "I think that right now there's a cover up of the cover up. This really goes beyond."
Her conversation with Texas Tribune CEO Evan Smith was the headlining event of the festival, a weekend of dialogue featuring some of the biggest names in politics.
House Democrats on Friday subpoenaed the State Department for information related to Trump's interactions with Ukraine, including the July 25 phone call with President Volodymyr Zelenskiy. However, members of the Trump administration have ignored congressional subpoenas, which Democrats are currently battling in court.
"If his judges decide that Congress has no oversight over the president of the United States, and that the administration does not have to respond to subpoenas, the system of checks and balances is over," Pelosi said. "I have a responsibility to protect and defend the Constitution."
She added: "Article III of the Nixon impeachment was 'failure to comply with congressional subpoenas.'"
Pelosi said she remains focused on the facts, even if they eventually absolve Trump. She even had an indirect message for the president.
"If he has some exculpatory information to undo everything that's out there, then come forward with it," she said.
When asked if she has any Republicans on deck who support the impeachment process, she said: "My oath of office does not depend on where the Republicans are. Nonetheless, with an objective review of the facts, they'll have to make their own decisions."
"If this pattern of behavior were to continue to prevail," Pelosi said, "and the president continues to ignore that Article II does not say that he can do whatever he wants, then it's over for the republic. We will have the equivalent of a monarchy."