Transcript for Nancy Pelosi opens formal impeachment inquiry
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi yeah afternoon. Last Tuesday we observe the anniversary at the adoption of the constitution. When September 17. Sadly on that day. The intelligence community ex inspector general formally notified the congress that the administration was forbidding him. From coming over and whistle blower complaint. On constitution day. This is a violation of law. Shortly here to press reports began to break of a phone call by the president of the United States calling upon foreign power to intervene. In his election. This is a breach of his constitutional responsibility. The facts are these the intelligence community inspector general who was appointed by president trump. Determined that the complaints as both an urgent concern. And credible. And its disclosure he went on to say. Relates to one of the most significant importance of the Director of National Intelligence its 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 whistle blower complaint. This is a violation of law the law is unequivocal. The DN rank staff for which it is says began Knight dean and Knight director of national talent shell. Provide congress the full whistle blower complaint. For more than 25 years essay on the intelligence committee as a member. As the ranking member as part of that gang of four even before I was in the leadership. I was here won't. When we created the Office of the Director of National Intelligence that did not exist before 2004. I was there even earlier in the ninety's when we wrote the whistle blown rooms. And continue to write them to improve them to ensure the security of our intelligence and the safety of the whistle blowers. I know what their purpose Wallace. And we proceeded with balance and caution as we both the loss I can say with authority. The current administration's actions undermine no. Our national security and her intelligence and her protections. Of the with supplies more than. If there's been the acting. He'll have to choose whether to breaks along our honor his responsibility. To the constitution. On the final day. Of the constitutional convention for 1980 thing. We're not constitution was adopted American together on the steps of independence hall to wake the news of the government. Act founders had crafted. They asked Benjamin Franklin what do we had a republic or monarchy. Franklin replied a republic. If you can keep it. I responsibility. Is to keep. Our public indoors because of the wisdom of our constitution. He shined in three co equal branches of government serving as checks and balances. When each other. The actions taken to date by the president has seriously violated the constitution. Especially when the president says. Article two says I can do what ever I want. For the past several months we have been investigating. You know committees and mitigating in the courts. How can gather all that relevant back. In 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 Ukraine to take actions which would benefit him politically. The action of the cut the actions at the trump presidency preview. Dishonorable fact of the president's betrayal of his oath of office that trial of our national security. And that trail of the integrity of our elections. Therefore today I'm announcing house of represent is moving forward with an official impeachment inquiry. I'm drinking six committees to proceed with their investigations. Under that umbrella. An impeachment inquiry. The president must be held accountable. No one is upon the law. Getting that for offenders. In the darkest days at the American revolution. Thomas Paine wrote. That times have found us the times found them to fight for re establish our democracy. The times found us today. Not to place in cells in the same category could insist their founders. The two places 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. I think our chairman chairman chairman and there chairmanship for killing Heather judiciary chairmanship. Of intelligence chairman tangle of foreign affairs chairman Cummings. Oversight and chairman Cummings had been in touch with constantly to master. So much like including. Un inspectors general. And an engine whistle violence. Congresswoman Richie Neal. The the Ways and Means Committee congresswoman Maxine Watters. We find that financial services community. And I commend all of her. Members and colleagues for their thoughtful thoughtful approach to on this for their careful statements. God bless him and content from hack thank you. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi reluctant no more sinks a constitutional duty of the House of Representatives to move towards impeachment inquiry. A president trump with harsh words for president trump saying he seriously violated the constitution. The betrayal of the oath of office a betrayal of national security Jon Karl they are going to move. They're gonna move that sounded like got a speaker of the house not simply beginning the process of impeachment but deciding that this president deserves to be impeach George she said. Violation of the law twice as you pointed out she said seriously violated the constitution. And betrayal of his oath of office that sounds to me like she is making the case not simply. For the inquiry but for impeaching. President Pierre Thomas are cheap just score so let's take a step back and look at this whistle blower complaint that the speaker cited breakthrough this is a complaint filed. Would need Intel Director of National Intelligence back in August Director of National Intelligence decided not to turn over. To the congress as she said as they believe is required by law the Democrats. And that has it been what precipitated these reports it came about the phone quoted Ukrainian president. George are exactly right the key thing to remember here is that the inspector general for the intelligence community. Look at this complaint regarding that phone call and perhaps other matters. And determined it was credible and other urgent concern. He then wanted to transfer this information does complain to congress for review the Justice Department and the acting. Director of naslund senate intelligence that he could not do so he's sharply disagrees and that's part are why we. Are where we are to clear tour and and we know that indeed deals at least in part with this phone call is July 25 phone call between the president and Ukrainian president. And peer the president is now said he's going to release at least a trend he said he's gonna release a transcript of that phone call tomorrow. We believe that he is going to at least that's what we're hearing that he's going to release that transcript tomorrow. But George there are other elements of this potentially we have heard from our sources that the person who filed this complaint we have heard. Some of this information a second hand so who wouldn't that person here from where did that information come from so there other people. Involved in knowing what the call was about. And the events surrounding it so that is key as well just. Presumably that is something that we look at an impeachment in an impeachment inquiry now to be conduct by six different house committees Terry Moran want to bring UN for this Terry you and I both covered. The Clinton impeachment about twenty years ago that moved quite quickly the a formal inquiry started in October yet I just a couple of months of an inquiry they moved to a vote. That's right about four. Or five months from soup to nuts and that impeachment inquiry because these things have a momentum of themselves and you can feel it. Since this story broke a sense. In particular among those majority maker Democrats those Democrats elected in 2018 from marginal districts many of them why one by president trump. Quite reluctant. To move towards engagement there's something about the allegation here if borne out by the evidence. That is just deeply disturbing to anyone is taken an oath to the constitution it seems at least on the democratic side. This sends that it is an abuse of office for the president to have done what he did if the evidence bears it out and I think the dam has broken as John said. And it could move fast. Tune in to enlist a foreign government health investigative political opponent Terry justice to look at the history of all this only three previous presidents. Having an impeachment inquiry is of course a Andrew Johnson. And Bill Clinton impeached but not convicted by the senate Richard Nixon resigned in the face of almost certain conviction in the senate. That's right it is the nuclear weapon in the constitution and the American people have always from the beginning. Had an understanding of how profound it is to overturn a presidential election we have never. Impeached and removed a president from office Nixon resigning. In the face of us smoking gun evidence and his own unwillingness to fight it. But it is really the ultimate sanction in the constitution one that the American public must be brought along two agreed to at least that is what the history certainly shift. Want to bring our senior congressional correspondent mayor Bruce and them in on that a married you've been reporting. Nancy Pelosi had been reluctant because he didn't believe the public can gets it was yet supporting impeachment. Didn't believe it or you would get a conviction. In the senate but clearly these new revelations have changed her mind and now she's decided to go about it not by setting up a special committee but is she just said. Leading to the six committees of jurisdiction in the house. He and George there is still a huge political risk here the speakers making it very clear look she's putting her fall power behind this. But it doesn't even pass the test that she has set up for herself she had said all along through months. Of hesitation here that she needed to have the public's Brian and support from Republicans. It's not clear that she had either of those things and just now I tried to ask the speaker that saying book an American president there have been convicted by the senate what is she hoping to accomplish. If the senate won't convict year but it is very clear we have seen. A in the last few days especially just in the last few hours. That this is a very different set of conditions speaker Pelosi speaking about this as an issue of the national security remember she's an intelligence person at a record you heard or just saying that in her statement. And in speaking when Democrats they feel. That unlike some of the other issues and the other allegations against the president that this. This incident at these revelations are ones the Democrats are licking clearly convey to the public that they can get. Them on board with this. This is not without risk so for Democrats but is clearly raised an anti Pelosi now feels is worth. It does appear you know we we know Nancy Pelosi knows how to count votes in these she never moves without knowing where caucus. Is going to be we've seen more than a 150 Democrats on the record supporting impeachment inquiry of the number likely decline clicking quickly now. It just right you have more than two thirds of house Democrats who say they support this move and I think it is worth pointing out that this didn't happen in a vacuum speaker Pelosi has been involved in his breaking of the damned we have seen over the last several day she was. In a in consultation. With those moderate Democrats those key freshman Democrats and those swing districts who came out overnight and essentially gave Nancy Pelosi the political cover to go ahead and take these steps she's been in close contact with the chairman of the the and the chair women of the committee's leading these investigations. She knew exactly where her members were and now she is following. An inning. What they wanna see happen here on the tenor Bruce thanks you get the first response from the present just tweeted out a moment ago saying such important 89 nations. So much work and so we're success in the Democrats purposely had a -- and demeanor with more breaking news. Which I'm garbage so bad for our country. Jon Karl we see those words which time that's what worked for the president he believes politically during the Muller investigation the question is can it work here. He said it over and over again regarding that special counsel investigation. I think this this feels different and I think that. You know talking to people very close to the president he he said earlier just before close he came out. That they keep telling me this would be good for me politically if if if the Democrats impeach them that is not what the president believes personally he. Fears this he does not want to see. He still has strong Republican support there's no question about that but an area is surprising. Vote in the senate just late this afternoon a hundred to nothing vote in the senate. Asking for that whistle blower complaint I normally the president who had not been wanting to send that over could count on Republicans who try to block it with them Mitch McConnell let that broke up. It was simply a sense of the senate so it's non binding but important symbolically. This was all 100 senators saying that the whistle blower complaint that the Department of Justice had blocked that the White House working with the Department of Justice. Had blocked it is should be sent over the intelligence committee. Okay Jon Karl thanks to meant to stay on Capitol Hill House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is decided to open a formal impeachment inquiry. A president trump we just saw president trumps first response to leave much more coming up on world news and we did it here. I'm George Stephanopoulos. And I Devin Dwyer a New York continuing coverage here on ABC news live of a momentous political development this afternoon House Speaker Nancy Pelosi moments ago announcing. And that the House of Representatives is now officially opening an impeachment inquiry into president trump this after the controversy that blew up this week out and nowhere. All over this whistle blower complaint about a phone call the president had. With the president of Ukraine back in July for more on this now what it means what's next. Our White House reporter Jordan Phelps is here Jordan the president we should say at this moment. Has watched all of this unfold from here in New York City in his home at trump talent. Yet the president has had a staple of meetings at the United Nations but he's back at trump tower he passed to watch this flight based on the tweets were seeing from him the president thank. Such an important day at the United Nations and Democrats purposely. Had to didn't mean this with witch hunt garbage so the president Arnie lashing out here just before he left the United Nations in anticipation of this. The president said if the Democrats did Newport with this they would actually be good for him. We know that the president has been. You know looking at this is sort of an extension of similar. Investigation of these other investigations that Democrats have been looking into the president strongly feels that Democrats have been looking for anything to get him on and now there are in this is just an extension about according to president prompt he has. Argued extensively against the case for impeachment saying. He's had a strong economy how could you possibly impeach a president with an economy as strong as says so president tram. Very much lashing out against says but saying that maybe this is something that he can use on the campaign. Yet the president talking about the politics there his campaign putting out a statement a short time ago calling this a bogus. Effort a doomed effort but also at the same time expressing disbelief. A tweeting that he can't believe this is happening earlier as you said Jordan the president said he can't believe it's true. And take a look at this tree here he just Tweeter from front tower they never even saw the transcript of the call toll was shot of course. It's a reference to the call at the center of this controversy. Terry want to bring you into this because a lot of people who haven't been following this that closely. May not understand what laws may have been broken here what norms have been violated. Can you do is still for us into for our viewers once again what was the problem with this phone call what's the not of misbehavior here alleged missed. Indeed the act absentee dads are they the alleged misbehavior here is that the president. Use the powers of his office of the presidency to pressure off foreign government. Using money. At his disposal because the people's representatives in congress put it there. For the purpose of assisting Ukraine militarily the president allegedly using that money. Essentially as a bribe or and it and extortion measure. To force the president the new president of Ukraine to investigate his political rival is the use of the public power and the public purse. For his own personal political gain. That is the allegation and it strikes right at the heart. His oath of office of national security united states of the basic trust that must exist between congress when it appropriates money. And the president when he or she spends it. For the president as alleged here to dangle that money to withhold it and to demand. Political gain in America from a foreign government. That is a shocker if the facts bear it out and we must emphasize. As the president just and we haven't seen a transcript of the call we haven't seen the complaint that the whistle blower in the intelligence community filed with the inspector general of the intelligence community. But if the facts bear out. That worst version of events. I think it shocks people a lot of people. Yet Terry and certainly it was remarkable to see that vote in the United States senate today the Republican controlled senate 100 to nothing as George alluded to there. To demand to hear the facts from the whistle blower to see that complaint. I wanna bring in our Chief Justice correspondent Pierre Thomas into this on that question pier because the whistle blower. Is really at the center of this Nancy Pelosi said that is the heart. Of why she took the step she did because the whistle blower is being blocked from congress she sees that as a violation of law. What do we know about who this whistle blower is in what is the law about whether or not this person and I can come forward. Well. The identity of the whistle gore has not been made public. And DeVon this really strikes at the notion that there's a serious. Inter agency and conflict within the executive court. The inspector general. Of the intelligence community. Did a review of this complaint. We looked at it over fourteen days. Determined that it was credible and that it was a matter of quote urgent concern. He then notified all so at some point notify the acting Director of National Intelligence. And in indicated that he planned to transfer this information. Two Capitol Hill in the form of the Intelligence Committees. And was told not to do so. The Justice Department was asked to weigh in. The acting the united said this should not be turned over the Justice Department agreed and they blocked. The transference of the information about. This. Particular complaint so. You have a battle over what the law states with the inspector general saying it needs to be. Reviewed by congress and basically the administration saying no. And setting up a showdown for Thursday on Capitol Hill win the acting Director of National Intelligence will be appearing there before two committees we heard. I speaker Pelosi say yes somewhat of an ultimatum turn over that was deplore compete or you'll be complicit in breaking the law on Thursday. But Terry its interest in because the house speaker didn't seem to suggest in any way. That the contents of the transcript period in the whistle blower. Report would change her mind on this she's she signaled for the first time here she seems to be all in on this now light up a pattern of behavior by the president. That's right she. Said that that this particular instances of violation of the law and that threatens the integrity of his office. And that secure and that this is would be that the security of the nation. Would be violated if this turns out to be true it sounds like you she is already on board and she is a person who has been very reluctant. To follow the activist wing of the Democratic Caucus in the house and the activist. A members of our party across the country towards impeachment let's face it the Democrats. As they move forward. In the effort to get the country behind an impeachment effort which we you have to do you need a super majority in the senate. They've got boy who cried wolf problem. At home for many many Americans. They called for impeachment with that Russia investigation with the obstructed justice of the Russian investigation with the stormy Daniels campaign finance story. We can monuments and issue from the president's. Hotel receipts. And all kinds of things and I think for a lot of Americans. There is an investigation. We are intense that they will have to overcome with what they believe is the gravity of this issue. Yeah and that public opinion Terri is going to be so key here and that's one of the biggest unknowns Jordan you're looking at some of the most recent polling. On impeachment from ABC news Washington Post poll the support for opening this investigation is Terry was mentioning is very low or has been at least. Yeah and that's interesting because one of that standard that plus he has sat all along is that she needs to see this public support so it's really not clear. That she does in fact have that at DeVon what she does have this week. Is there does seem to have been this damn that's been broken that we've talked that was in the Democratic Party. Those previously reluctant moderate Democrats and knees sort of swing districts are now expressing more support for this idea of impeachment Pelosi. Always the protector of her caucus has been protecting those people now with that tide turning. Pelosi clearly feels that she has the political power to let go hat in Newport with him. We'll see if the constituents of some of those members those red state lawmakers. Follow along they're lead here appear Thomas is still with us. Here want to come back to you again on the alleged conduct of the president here was in the in this behavior that the speaker talked about in opening this inquiry. Is it criminal behavior or is this simply a political question here. Of alleged abuse of power. You know obviously I think it's too early to make that car we don't know was in the transcript we don't know what happened. Surrounding that the telephone call so we're gonna have to wait to see what the facts lead us. But once when I want to make evidence that there is some risk here. Without having seen these effects floored the house to be handing down this road. Impeachment potentially. And the fact that these speakers mentioned at six committees will continue to do their work. As it's not like. All those different committees have had a coal leases cohesive and effective. Showing thus far and in particular last week. When according going to ask you appear before the house judiciary there a lot of people who said that descended into. A lot of questions not being answered and lot of grandstanding not exactly a shining moment. And Terry Moran you covered an impeachment hearing once before him Washington we we referenced that earlier than impeachment of Bill Clinton. Back in the ninety's from that experience what can you tell us about how this is likely to unfold. How many months is this gonna tape what's it can actually look like next concretely. Well it it can move fast. The impeachment once it gets momentum behind it has a life of its on the impeachment of Bill Clinton. From from that committee hearings through the vote on the senate floor was just a few months really. And it it's because it is so urgent because it it devoured all the attention in Washington in the media the business of the country. Is set aside one thing occurs during the impeachment of Bill Clinton we now know al-Qaeda was incubating its plots and it it's hard to believe that that congress and the president in the media in the country didn't have its eye off that ball but there a couple of other things one you've already mentioned. That 100 to nothing vote in the United States senate calling on in a non binding resolution. The president to release the whistle blowers original complaint. That reflects something that abides in the American public and these things. They want to see the evidence for themselves and make up their own minds that happen in the Clinton impeachment. Poll showed overwhelming majorities. Wanted. To see the president's grand jury testimony make up their own minds. In the recent investigation of the rush. In a matter here. With president trump 75%. Of the American people and an intensely divided times that we want to see the full Muller reports. People want it they see the Nixon tapes so you'll have the entire Republican involved. In a way and finally missed all the political posturing in the political divides in this. Each of these impeachment in people is dating back to the 1860 showed that there are a handful. Members of the House of Representatives and senators who end up. Having a very patient. Attitude a careful inquiry they end up having the greatest influence we've seen that before. And I'd expect to see it even now again. And of course one of the casualties of this process Terry that you talk about unfolding. Could be the prospect of actually getting anything done in congress during these last few months before the two point one election the bar I think was already pretty low but there was talk. Toward adults about some sort of a gun reform package gun violence prevention package the speaker today even acknowledged at a form that she'd called president trump this morning. To talk to him about that package woods seem all but certain now that that sort of compromise. On any of these important issues people care about is on the way formed by the wayside. Absolutely we will see that fallen to the wayside at a particularly on Goddard perverts important to note that everyone had been waiting for the White House to put out a plan and president front. Have really been hi I'm dragging his heels on that was asked about this yesterday where's your gun planning he tried to blame the Democrats and specifically federal work to. During ABC debate called on confiscating some assault style. Weapons but the president here does have this other agenda that isn't going to see the light of day at this point but DeVon. And a lot of sense says Washington has already moved into campaign mount as a lot of attention was RD moving away from the day to day governing and backed the. They really become over the compromise to fund the government out of order shut down by the end of the year so that remains to be seen but Terry Moran. I'll go to you for the last thought here because we heard Mary Bruce our senior congressional correspondent was in the room with speaker Pelosi. Try to shout a question to her there at the out of the question was. What does this all gonna accomplish if you have a Republican controlled senate that's almost certainly. I'm not going to vote two convict the president if impeachment comes there. I'm so but what does this accomplish what should people I take away when Democrats hope this will accomplish in the end why. I think we need to take that's speaker Pelosi and some of those Democrats that there were the first thing it accomplishes for them it sounds like is as fulfillment of their oath to defend the constitution. This episode. As they see it so far the facts need still to come out. Is such a threat to the safety of American government if presidents are able to do this kind of thing. And get away with it as it where if in fact the facts ferret out I think they feel they have to do it they have no choice and going forward. I think it depends on on how the public. Seized the impeachment. If you remember at in the Clinton and impeachment it failed in the senate the senate failed to convict but the next election. Who was essentially diverted to the American people although Al Gore won the popular vote he did not win the presidency Bill Clinton was unable. Two see his legacy continued by Al Gore. Partly because George Bush ran on restoring honor and dignity to the White House essentially and an impeachment issue. If a public however sees it as merely a political game. Now punish the Democrats. Are depends on how it plays out once again I think as this moves forward you will see some people in congress. And perhaps elsewhere get more and more serious and careful about it and those people will hold the key to how this turns out politically and and it constitution. And aren't going to be a fascinating and that's 2019 a political tool with political risk. And it is the game of impeachment Terry Moran our chief national correspondent thank you so much of thanks. A tour Chief Justice correspondent Pierre Thomas thanks store were our White House reporters weren't Phelps as well thank you for watching us here. On ABC news live for the special breaking news coverage of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in a major political development announcing an official impeachment inquiry against president trump.
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