Speaker Nancy Pelosi Announces Formal Impeachment Inquiry Into President Trump

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This message comes from NPR sponsor. IBM SMART is open open is smart. IBM is combining their industry expertise with with the open source leadership of Red Hat. Let's unlock the world's potential. Let's put smart to work learn more at IBM dot. com slash red hat ed hey there. It's the NPR politics podcast. I'm Tim McKee cover the White House. I'm Frank Donas and I also cover the White House. I'm Susan Davis. I cover Congress and Dominica Montenero senior political editor and correspondent and it is six fifty. PM on Tuesday September twenty-fourth and we are here because not long ago House Speaker Nancy Pelosi walked out of a meeting with House Democrats and announced that she now supports an impeachment inquiry into president trump this week the president has admitted to asking the president of Ukraine to take actions which would benefit him politically the action of the actions of the trump presidency revealed dishonorable fact of the president's betrayal. Oh of his oath of office betrayal of our national security and betrayal the integrity of our elections therefore today. I'm announcing the House of Representatives moving forward with an official impeachment inquiry. That seems big. This is a big deal right. I mean the fact the matter is Nancy. Bluesy has gone for so long being so cautious trying to hold back the gates of Progressive Democrats who've been bubbling over trying to force forced his hand to do this and finally that dam broke today and she got on board with this and so you are up on the hill and it was like a wear flats day. It seems like it was lutely yeah a lot of running in the hallways today I grew to go. It's a major moment it's a defining moment in the course of what's been happening in this. Congress and the question of impeachment for the main reason that you can't bring articles of impeachment to the floor without the support of the speaker up until today they did not have it policy made clear impeachment was a non starter on her watch. It is now a starter. I do think it's important to note that not much has really substantively changed. She didn't call for a new select committee. She didn't call for a formal vote on the House floor. She is essentially just saying that thing that Jerry Nadler. The chairman of the judiciary has been calling an impeachment inquiry all along. I now agree with him so that does not sound like the beginning of impeachment in the way that she we made it sound like I mean it is certainly the start of a new chapter appear in that once. This effort has the backing of the speaker. They're cooking with gas and the chairman that we spoke to you coming out of this meeting said they also made clear that the speaker and all of them aligned one move with haste. Nadler told a Democrats inside that room that he wanted to move fast and have a decision on this There's a lot of things happening in real time this week and we might get some answers really soon to this question of will they move forward with impeachment. I mean look the factor. The once you say the words impeachment that's a totally different environment on Capitol Hill and in Washington I mean it's a political earthquake in DC once you you start rolling that ball down the hill. The fact is there's only been three presidents before this who have faced impeachment proceedings and one of those presidents resigned so he wouldn't be impeached. Ultimately this puts everything else under the cloud of impeachment right and Richard Nixon resigned before a vote but certainly not before hearings hearings and proceedings in inquiry so I think that before we get much further down this road. We need to talk about how we got here so yesterday. We did a podcast. I talked about how all this started but let me take a deep breath and try to summarize so there is a whistleblower complaint that the trump administration is refusing the handover to Congress and that is reportedly about a call between president trump and the president of Ukraine back in July. Now we know that shortly before that call president trump blocked military aid from being delivered to Ukraine and on the call trump has said that he discussed corruption and vice president didn't Joe Biden trump has made no secret of his desire to have Ukraine investigate Biden and his son though there's no evidence of wrongdoing by the Biden's and it's not clear whether on the call trump made it explicit trump says he didn't that that the funding for Ukraine would be hide Hyde somehow to investigations into the Biden's alright Franko. You're in New York with the president. He has talked about this a lot today. He has talked about it so much he has answered so many questions and he's also continued to push this line trying to deflect the responsibility from himself over to the Biden's it's been fascinating to watch because he also has been kind of changing his story just just yesterday when I was with the president at the UN he was talking about the reasons for this investigation had to do with his concerns about corruption in in Ukraine but today it's completely different. It's about foreign aid and other countries not providing enough. I was actually talking talking with ambassador. today's well about that. WHO said it just doesn't add up because Europe actually provides a lot of foreign aid to Ukraine and Europe Europe also through NATO provides a lot of defense spending as well so what we're saying here is president trump held this funding for a long time for something like ten weeks from going to Ukraine this money was needed by Ukraine as part of its defense against Russian aggression and president trump at I I was like no. I didn't give them the money because of corruption and then today he said No. I didn't give them the money because I wanted other countries to give him the money money that's right. He continues to change his tune and you know look. It's not that surprising. We've seen these type of kind of evolving statements from the President several times before when he's kind of in a situation under scrutiny for things that he is done or said I'm and like some of those earlier instances such as the Russian investigation he's also kind of falling on you know tried and true narratives and statements. We heard today for for example. He's using the term witch hunt and presidential harassment. I've heard those words before about Russia and so like here's a question Domenico. What what is different there were months of a Muller Investigation. There was a muller report. There was muller testimony and Nancy Pelosi. Never said I support an impeachment inquiry. I mean this controversy has been a controversy for less than a week and now she's saying I support him. He's been draws add up before they break a camel's back back. This is the straw that broke the camel's back in the fact. The matter is this is different. She even noted today that the difference here is that this is easy to understand. I mean everybody gets making a phone. Call someone saying hey you know. I wish you could investigate this person. Who is happens to be a political rival. You know this is the president asking for foreign intervention from another country into American elections if that's what the allegations proved to actually be as has been reported by the Wall Street Journal and others you know if that's the case that is different and is very understandable. It's easily explainable. It's why so many many people said that the impeachment inquiry against Bill Clinton was easy to understand because he was lying right and he was on tape and then he lied. It's so true I mean this is a bite size size kind of morsel that people can really latch onto well and in the last twenty four hours president trump has seemed to put a lot of emphasis offices on this idea of no quid pro quo and one tweet he said no quid pro quo exclamation point and and he is saying that he's going going to release tomorrow a transcript of his call with the president of Ukraine and he says in that call you will see no quid pro quo so in a way it was like the president was trying to get out ahead of this announcement from Pelosi and and sort of lay the groundwork this or that the public look in theory would be disappointed or let down like like people were with the Muller report in terms of how it ultimately was sort of spun out. Democrats are taking a political risk here right because so much of this call for impeachment is based on information we still don't have. We don't know what's in that transcript. We don't know what's in that whistle. Blower complaint ain't and neither do they. If the information in those documents doesn't reveal itself to back up this point. Does it risk looking like they are. In fact just rushing for impeachment are looking for any reason to impeach that said these allegations against the president in what he may have done. We're so serious that it also did for so many Democrats in the last twenty four hours to just get off the sidelines and get in and say this is this is a this is too far even even now as we have to come forward and I would point to people like a lot of Gollner Democrats in freshman allow these vulnerable freshman in swing districts who have wanted to stay far away from this issue and they really triggered to their to their credit. I mean I think they will be seen as sort of the action forcing event here and it started with a group of Seven House Democrats in an OP ED in the Washington Post including some interviewed on NPR today coming forward and saying if the president did this that would meet their own personal threshold for impeachment and these are freshmen were involved in the national security apparatus former C. I. Ain't analysts former military veterans that I think gave other members of the caucus and I think including the speaker sort of a tipping point moment to say if they're willing to take this coll- risk we are too and they politically speaking. They are the majority makers. Many of them are from districts that President Trump won in two thousand sixteen sixteen. These are the most vulnerable Democrats come twenty twenty when they're up for reelection and in some ways like Pelosi had been trying to give them cover and then they came out and said we don't need your stinking thinking they rip the they ripped cover off and the fact is if she's trying to protect them. They're out there saying. We don't need the protection action. I mean one of the things that is so important about this that Democrats are going to have to make this messaging campaign and when it comes to quid pro quo there were three Democratic House Chairman Chairman who put out this letter saying that that Ukraine is dependent on US aid and is under continued threat from Russia and they said because of that exploiting meeting that vulnerability to advance the president's personal political interests whether or not the president expressly tied his request to a quid pro. Quo Is the real problem now. They'RE GONNA have to sell that message to a whole lot of people who may not have been paying attention to all of this over the last few days yeah I mean this happened so so fast that there are probably a lot of Americans who are hearing about this Ukraine thing for the first time because Nancy Pelosi says it is her tipping point. It is her reason for for pursuing an impeachment inquiry or for supporting an impeachment inquiry. Okay we are going to talk about what comes next after a quick break support support for this podcast and the following message come from the Annie E. Casey Foundation developing solutions to support strong families and communities to help ensure a brighter future future for America's children more information is available at ADC F. Dot Org. Hey It's Cairo's here from how I built this on. NPR and on our latest episode would we tell the story of how Andy Pettitte comb and rich Pearson turned Andy's experience as a Buddhist monk into a guided meditation APP. It's called head space and it's now used by uh-huh millions of people around the world. New episodes come out every Monday. Listen and subscribe right now and we're back and I just want to get a little technical here. Pursue the beginning of the PODCAST. You were saying that technically. Nothing is really changed here so I guess what comes next are these committees that were investigating gating going to investigate more or differently or what changes investigate harder. I mean that's the question here right is what substantively changes and I think that's why you saw a couple of things as one House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy came out pretty swiftly after Pelosi made her comments and sort of made the point that nothing new is actually happening here. She cannot unilaterally decide impeachment inquiry what she said. Today made no difference of what's been going on. It's no different than what Nadler's Adler has been trying to do and he has a point. I talked to another chairman Richard Neal. He's Louisa Means Chairman. He's one of the six chairman that Pelosi says is part of this umbrella impeachment inquiry and he essentially said nothing fundamentally is that different that the judiciary committee under Nadler still is the tip of the spear and as you have heard Jerry Nadler's say on many occasions he does believe he is already actively in an impeachment inquiry well the Judiciary Committee will continue so we don't want to misinterpret what they've been doing right along but I think that this gives added impetus based upon this speaker formally requesting an inquiry the substantive difference that I've heard a couple Democrats. Let's say people like Alexandria Cortez the Democrat from New York who's been a strong advocate for impeachment and leaders of the Progressive Caucus like Formula J. Paul who's a Democrat from Washington. Then came out of the meeting saying the real substantive change is that Democrats are all on the same page. Now you know prior to today the story had been Democrats divided over whether to go forward impeachment the fact that you now have the mall saying it's a good idea and we need to investigate it certainly gives new energy and new half a new meaning to what's what's already been taking place so dimicco politically we. NPR and others have done a number of polls about public support for impeachment meant and there's not a huge amount of support for impeachment in the broader public so you know Democrats may agree with themselves in the house but is that enough yeah I mean look we forty odd percent of people saying either continue investigations or go ahead and impeach the president. I think that's basically your impeachment in cluster right there when you think about that question but we have to remember that impeachment has always been unpopular. We've talked about this in the podcast before or but when the impeachment proceedings I began when it came to Richard Nixon it was something like nineteen percent in the Gallup poll said they supported impeachment and the only time I got above fifty percent for majority was in the week that Nixon wound up resigning and still it was only at fifty seven percent in that week so that's not all that high. You're always going to have people who are uncomfortable with this. Americans are traditionalist and kind of want to see elections determine things rather rather than you know the house having to go through with an impeachment proceeding but that doesn't mean that they haven't done the before because they've always been unpopular and well speaker group. Pelosi was making her statement president trump we know was in executive time watching it on TV back at trump tower and he was tweeting about it. His campaign also put out a statement. They are certainly Franko putting the the most positive possible spin on this development. No of course I mean they are using this and they're trying to turn this to their advantage. I mean I was speaking with a senior administration official today who basically said that this is going to animate the base and that's what Brad Rat Park Scalp trump's campaign manager said in a statement that Democrats can't beat president trump on his policies or his record so that they're going to try try this impeachment strategy and what it will do is only energized president trump's supporters and look. There's some there is some you know that's a potential. This is something something they've been planning for early on They have used this in the past saying like look. If you go this route we're going to be able to accuse Democrats of simply simply trying to attack the president while the president tries to lead and tries to do policies kind of look at look at them as I try to do work. This is the narrative although I mean here's the thing I think the president's base is always fired up rightly learn this time geared up and ready nothing. That's going to happen to turn the president's. Base I think this this is the question of this very narrow part of the electorate the sort of independent or undecided voter how they absorb what's happening here and whether it tilt the needle towards the president because they see him as a victim of of sort of a political campaign to get him out of office or do they substantively side with a inquiry that may or may not prove that the president has used the power of the office to is solicit a foreign government to engage in an election and I think that's a really risky bet that you're going to think that that undecided swing voter are presented with that information. Should it be proven to be true is going to side with the president. I mean impeachment at the very end of the day is still a bad thing to happen to a president so sue. Fraser talked about impeachment blocking the Sun What does this mean this this rhetorical shift and this acceleration. What does this mean for all the other things. Congress was maybe GONNA do like gun legislation or the US Mexico. Oh candidate trade agreement or prescription drug prices well. I think you'd have to have some level of confidence that those things were going to happen to begin with prescription drug legislation. You could put on that list. There's sort of the very short list of things that had glimmers of hope of getting done there hasn't really been substantive process to that end to try and get those passed before or Pelosi came up for impeachment and certainly not going to help that. She is now out for impeachment. I think to the points that Franco Dominica made that this will consume the White House as much as it consumes Capitol Hill I think it is possible in theory for Congress to still cut deals with the president has happened in the past under confrontational times between presidents and divided Congress's. I'm very skeptical that it could happen under this specific divided Washington and we should know that the White House put out a statement tonight from Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham saying in part House Democrats have quote destroyed any chances of legislative progress for the people of this country by continuing to focus their energy and partisan political attacks so there you have it so there you have it. The White House is declared all legislation dead okay so we are going to be podcasting a lot this week. We were already planning to be what is on our list. There's a lot of there's a lot of news happening. The immediate what we're watching comes tomorrow where president trump has said he will release a transcript gripped the conversation in question with the Ukrainian President We are looking at house. Intelligence chairman. Adam Schiff said that his committee is in contact with the lawyer for the whistle blower. We're and he has said today that the committee could hear from the whistle blower as soon as this week over in the Senate they voted unanimously on a resolution calling for the whistle blower complaint lean to be turned over to the Senate Intelligence Committee so they could review it and the intelligence community is also going to hear from the acting director of National Intelligence on Thursday. Okay so the next seventy two hours could be pretty wild and one other thing to note president. Trump is having a press conference tomorrow so we will be back in your podcast feeds. Just as soon as there's news you need to know about which there's GonNa be a lot of news you need to know about. I'm Tamer Keith. I cover the White House. I'm Frank Gordonia as I also cover the White House Davis. I cover congress. I'M DOMINICA MONTENERO senior political editor and correspondent and thank you for listening to the impure politics podcast this message comes from NPR sponsor. Comcast Business Gig fueled network solutions that help businesses go beyond the expected to do the extraordinary nary comcast business beyond fast learn more at comcast business dot com.

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