This evening, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi finally made the announcement: She endorsed the launch of an impeachment inquiry into President Donald J. Trump in the House of Representatives.
“No One Is Above the Law.”
After more than two and a half years of endless scandals and recent days’ building outrage over an alleged attempt to draw Ukrainian officials into producing information on the Biden family’s relations in the Eastern European country in exchange for held-up foreign aid funding, the growing agitation among Democrats finally bore fruit.
Throughout the day, a digital counter indicating the number of Congressmembers publicly supporting an impeachment inquiry ticked upward on CNN’s live broadcasts as more details spilled out in the latest, growing scandal.
Per a CNN summary from earlier today:
This [announced inquiry] comes after news that President Trump pressed Ukraine’s president in a call to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden’s son, Hunter, a person familiar with the situation said.
The House of Representatives still will need to open the formal hearings to make the inquiry “official,” but Speaker Pelosi’s announcement included her delegation of investigative duties to six committees and their Democratic committee chairs.
As Princeton historian Kevin M. Kruse pointed out on Twitter, it can be a laborious, long process: Televised hearings began roughly nine months before the formal inquiry presaged President Richard Nixon’s articles of impeachment.
The most famous congressional investigation into Watergate began in May 1973, producing damning testimony in televised hearings that made the case for impeachment.
The formal impeachment inquiry wasn't launched until February 1974. https://t.co/ma1o4hkold
— Kevin M. Kruse (@KevinMKruse) September 24, 2019
If the inquiry is indeed formally launched, President Trump will become the fourth president in U.S. history, following Andrew Johnson, Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton, to undergo the process.
(Among them, Johnson and Clinton ultimately were impeached by the House, but acquitted by the U.S. Senate; President Nixon resigned before the House made it to the conviction stage, though the House had filed three articles of impeachment in his case. Finally, as journalist Jonathan Katz astutely pointed out this evening, Presidents John Tyler and James Buchanan, in the mid-nineteenth century, faced pre-impeachment proceedings, but never a vote on articles of impeachment.)
This is a breaking news story and will be updated as further information becomes available.
This post and its title have been updated to include the historical, comparative context noted by Professor Kruse and Mr. Katz, and to clarify the scope of this evening’s announcement.