The speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, has instructed the legislative chamber’s Judiciary Committee chairman to draft articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump for his alleged pressuring of Ukraine to investigate a political rival.
The move, announced on December 5, effectively assures a formal impeachment process against the 45th president, who given the Democrats' majority in the house is likely to become just the third president to be impeached.
"Sadly, but with confidence and humility, with allegiance to our founders and a heart full of love for America, today I am asking our chairman to proceed with articles of impeachment," Pelosi said.
"The president abused his power for his own personal political benefit at the expense of our national security.... In America, no one is above the law," Pelosi added.
Earlier this week, the Judiciary Committee received a 300-page report from the fact-finding component of the proceedings, which were led by Democrats in the House Intelligence Committee. That report lays out the evidence Democrats say demonstrates Trump abused his office for political gain.
The U.S. House of Representatives has the sole responsibility to impeach a president. If impeachment is voted upon by the full chamber, a trial would be held in the Senate, which is controlled by Republicans, meaning conviction is highly unlikely.
White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham responded moments after the statement on Twitter, saying Trump "has done nothing but lead our country...We look forward to a fair trial in the Senate."
The Democrat-led House of Representatives has for two months probed whether the president committed impeachable offenses that constitute “high crimes and misdemeanors,” a vaguely defined term in the U.S. Constitution.
At the center of the investigation is a July 25 phone call Trump had with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy during which Kyiv was prodded to open investigations into Trump's political rivals.
The White House had frozen $391 million of military aid to Ukraine leading up to the phone call, but eventually released it in September.